Norma Sherry: What Are We To Do?
What Are We To Do?
By Norma Sherry
(FLORIDA) - We need to stop singing to the choir. We've already got it. We know all too well what's wrong and what needs fixing. Now we need to reach the other side. We need to put aside our frustration, our anger, and start doing something productive.
We already know that we need to take back our country. Most of us would agree we'd vote for almost anyone or anything as long as it isn't a Bush.
We're already aware of the carefully woven threats to our liberty secreted in and encompassed within, the US Patriot Acts, The Victory Act, Homeland Security Act, The Anti-Terrorism Bill, The Faith-Based Initiative Act, Free Trade Act, NAFTA, Fast Track, TIPS, Citizen Service Act, the USA Freedom Corps, Project Bioshield, Terrorist Threat Integration Center, The No Child Left Behind Act, Jobs for the 21st Century Initiative, The Defense of Marriage Act, and the U.S-Middle East Free Trade Area proposal.
We already know we've been lied to, misled, and deceived. We already know that our pre-emptive war against Iraq violated U.S. domestic law and international law; that it was a war of aggression that conflicts with our Constitution. For many of us, we'd agree that this alone is an Impeachable offense.
We already know that this administration is guilty of war crimes according to the laws of the Geneva Convention. We know, too, that the sanctions against the innocent men, women, and children of Iraq were crimes against humanity and should be punished as such under the Nuremberg Charter, Sec.#2.
We already know that the victors of post-war Iraq and Afghanistan are the 70 American companies and individuals that donated most significantly to the campaign of George W. Bush and the Republican Party. When Franklin Roosevelt feared corporate profiteering under his watch, he proclaimed, "I don't want to see a single war millionaire created in the United States as a result of this world disaster"? This is especially compelling since American companies have won up to $8 billion in contracts, with the number one spot going to a Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown and Root, with a bounteous contract worth $2.3 billion.
Harry S. Truman would call this war profiteering by the merchants of misery, treason, as he did in WW11. Where is Harry Truman when we need him? We already know we need a leader and representatives who will re-instate the Excess Profit Tax, a tax that will prohibit excess war profiteering. We know for sure that this president will never enact such a law. Nor will he stop the corporate take-over and privatization of Iraq. We know we need a president that will.
We already know that our media is owned by a handful of conglomerates and that our news is nothing more than a watered-down, paltry resemblance to the 'people's right to know'. We know that these same media moguls have met behind closed doors with the FCC more than 70 times to advance their plan to relax laws regulating media ownership. At this rate, our viewing choices will be neighbor pitted against neighbor in one folly followed by another on reality TV-dom, and one voice telling us what they want us to know and how they want us to know it. That will be called: The News.
We also know about the $715 million lobbyists spent on wining, dining, and otherwise influencing our elected officials to relax or obliterate gun laws, and the proposed first global treaty to regulate tobacco sponsored by the World Health Organization. We also already know that British American Tobacco, the $40 billion company, is conspiring behind the scenes to prevent the treaty, while they smugly simultaneously pretend they are the face of social responsibility.
We know all this - and much more - already, it's the other side that doesn't. There's probably little hope in getting them to open their minds and take off their blinders. But there is a whole lota folk out there that know none of this and have lost faith completely in the democratic system.
So, what are we to do? That's the big question we hear a lot these days. Well, it just so happens I have a few suggestions.
Okay, we know we need to turn the tide, change the direction, and move our country toward a more socially, humanistic, conscientious entity. The question is how? If we're serious about bringing about change we need to get to work educating, enlightening, stimulating, and encouraging, our fellow citizens to the travesties of this administration and we need to motivate the non-voters that it's time to actively participate in their citizenship.
Number One: Election Day
Let's make it easier for the citizenry to vote. We should work to have Election Day made a National Holiday. No one works, every one votes!
Every voting citizen can be given a slip of paper when they sign the voter's registry. That piece of paper can be turned in to their employer as proof that they used the day to vote. It would also earn them a paid holiday - without the proof, no pay.
This would eliminate the difficulties many citizens have in getting to their voting offices and the paid day would encourage every citizen to vote.
Number Two: We must register all unregistered voters.
There is an estimated three million plus workers unemployed. Nine million altogether if you count those who aren't being counted anymore. These are the disenfranchised, the forlorn, the outsourced unemployed and unemployable.
They're bright, thirty to fifty-ish, disheartened, disillusioned, disgusted, and in many cases depressed. Their situations are dramatic and tragic.
Their unemployment has run out; they were discharged without a severance package or so much as a 'thank you'. They're losing their homes, their insurance, their savings, and they can't afford to feed their children, or pay for medical care. In too many cases, they've given up.
We need to reach these individuals. We can begin by standing outside every unemployment office in every state. We need their vote. We need to convince them of the importance of their vote if they want any hope of changing their situation. These citizens are among those with the most to lose if Bush remains in office.
Younger voters aren't exercising their right of citizenship either. They are also the most disenchanted of our voters. We need to help them understand the dire consequences to their freedoms, their liberties, and their way of life, if they do not participate in changing our direction. We need to talk to them about the issues that concern them. We need their vote.
We have hundred's of thousand's of non-voting citizens in the poorest sections of towns and cities all across America. In too many cases, these individuals are embittered, disinterested, world-weary, indifferent, and distrusting. We must reach these voters by talking about issues that they can relate to and are concerned about. We need to go to their homes, their community centers, their houses of worship, and wherever they congregate. We need their vote.
Number Three: The under-used, very important, Absentee Ballot
We live in a time when life often becomes just too much to handle. Some citizens have the best intentions. They really want to vote, but they're just too tired after a long day at work, or traffic was so heavy, or they don't want to wait in line after a miserable day. There are a multitude of reasons why some citizens seem not able to make it to their polling place.
Seniors are serious about voting, but this age group has problems that may prevent them from making it to the polling booth. The weather may be inclement, they may not be feeling well, or they might even be in the hospital. We need to teach them and help them get an Absentee Ballot.
We need to go into the Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Centers, Senior Centers, Rehabilitative Hospitals, and anywhere that citizens may be temporarily or long-term and we need to help them get their Absentee Ballot. We can even let them fill them out, seal them, stamp them, and then offer to mail them for them.
Some younger voters don't want to be caught dead voting. They think it's not cool. Whether we can turn that mindset around or not is questionable, but we can get them registered and we can get them an Absentee Ballot.
Absentee Ballot long used by concerned citizens who may be out of the country, is an underused, yet excellent tool to invoke your citizenship without exerting an iota of extra energy.
We need to create commercials emphasizing the Absentee Ballot. We also need to sign up every new voter with this option. We also need to have volunteers call every person who has requested an Absentee Ballot to remind them to fill it out and mail it.
Where billboards are still permitted, we need Absentee Ballot ads. Every volunteer group across this wide country of ours needs to register voters and assign an Absentee Ballot.
But this is the most important reason for an Absentee Ballot - particularly in this election, it is the very real concern that our ballots may not be counted as we intended. Many of us are already aware of the Diebold Conspiracy wherein there is mounting proof that our election system can tamper with our votes.
Absentee Ballots are counted by hand. We need to begin a fast and furious campaign to get every voting citizen an Absentee Ballot. This is the only certainty for a paper trail. Each and every one of us can make a copy for our own records. If we fear our election was manipulated or votes falsely counted, we will be able to stand up in mass and show our proof.
Number Four: We need to reach the senior voters.
This is a huge voting block and they are the most susceptible group to being misled. This year AARP, the largest organization created for the 50 plus citizen as their advocacy group, insurance carrier, and information magazine, sold out, lied, and misled their members.
AARP recommended to its constituency that they need to support the president's drug program - but they neglected to tell their members, who depended upon AARP to advise them for their common good, that this new program is designed to disallow competition of the drug companies.
Furthermore, no longer will seniors be allowed to save money by getting their medications from Canada. They advertised on television, in their newsletters, and in their magazine, encouraging their members to support the president on this program without divulging the full truth.
AARP bamboozled all but the 49,000 members that dropped their membership due to this recommendation. This constituency needs our help and our guidance and we need their vote.
Many seniors cannot comprehend the complexities of what is happening in our country. They lived, participated, and worked, in a far simpler day. Today they rely on their children, their religious leader, their neighbor, and regrettably, their favorite television personality, a/k/a newscaster, to explain the issues. Considering their advisor could be misguided, misinformed, or a champion of this president, they can easily be led astray.
We cannot let this happen. We need their vote.
These are our parents, our grandparents, our aunts and uncles, we need to talk to them, and we need to talk to their friends. We need to mobilize them to work for the common good. Many of the elders in this age group have an abundance of time and they have a yearning, burning, desire for something of worth to do. Let's put them to work. Who knows, they may be the very group that can reach our next group, our largest block.
Number Five: The largest voting block is the 18 - 30-year old.
This group identified as the largest voting block may be the most difficult to reach. Cynicism is rampid in this age group. In our last presidential election, a dismal one-quarter of all eligible voters exercised their right to vote. In the 18 - 24 age group, only one-third utilizes their right to vote. It would appear we have a big job ahead of us.
After President Bush took office, CNN asked teens how they would rate his success during his presidency. They said, "he will be judged on whether he lived up to his campaign promises of being 'a uniter', not 'a divider'." Additionally they offered, "My generation is going to be entering the work force. If the economy doesn't continue to be prosperous, if it falls into decline, it could be catastrophic to our generation."
Clearly, he has failed miserably on both accounts.
Civil liberties, education, political infighting, and profiteering, were their other concerns.
Considering his deplorable job on all these important issues, we have a good basis for a beginning dialogue.
Imperative to the success in reaching this voting block is the need to reach them on their own turf. Knowledge is the key to succeeding in this realm. We need to listen, as well as, energizing and educating them. We need to have young people talking to their peers about the loss of our civil liberties, the frightening future for American workers, and the horrific battering our economic picture has taken under the watchful eye of President Bush.
They need to know that their life is going to change even more drastically if this president remains in office.
We need to demonstrate the importance of exercising their citizenship. We need to use whatever tact we can. The Internet, rock groups, rappers, performers, comics -- whoever they may listen to and wherever they may go to talk - we need to use all our available resources to make an impact. We need to talk about the issues that concern them. Only after they understand the reality and hear the facts, will they become motivated to participate in their citizenship. Then we need to activate each and every one of these young people to get out and pass the word to their friends.
We need to go where they are: the college campuses; the technical schools; their clubs; their houses of worship; their coffee house; and wherever they gather. We need to produce commercials geared to speak just to them and they need to be aired on their favorite programs.
We need to let them know the consequences if we stay our present path. They need to know if they thought they could make a livelihood as an IT specialist, a computer programmer, or any of the hundred's of jobs that have left our shores and been outsourced to workers in third world countries, that they better go back to school and learn a different skill because those jobs are gone.
They need to know that unless they're a plumber, electrician, mechanic, television broadcaster, or musician, that there is little else they can count on if we stay this course. We need to let them know that right now, if our president doesn't add one more penny to our already trillions of dollars of debt, that no matter what they earn, their taxes will eat up their take-home money.
We need to instill in each of these younger voters that if we continue in Iraq, and this president will, that they can count on the draft being re-instated. We need to let them know that if a young woman in this age group has an un-wanted pregnancy, if this president remains in office, her choice over her body, will not be her choice after all.
We need this voting block. They can make a difference.
Number Six: We need to reach the citizens "Compassionate Conservatives" Leave Behind.
Our president has made it very clear that he is a Christian. He invokes the Lord in every speech. The problem is if he is elected a second term and has his way, he'll rewrite the Constitution and throw away our Bill of Rights.
He shuns the revered Constitutional Amendment that defines the Separation of Church and State as our framers so carefully instilled. The very dangerous course that this president is embarking upon is the very same destination that our forefathers feared most.
American's United for Separation of Church and State, Executive Director, Rev. Barry W. Lynn, said, "He clearly has no understanding of the separation of church and state. The government has no business funding salvation and religious conversion. That's the job of our houses of worship."
Many clerics have expressed concern on many aspects of the president's Faith-Based Initiative: Discriminatory hiring practices; inappropriate religious queries to judicial positions; faith-based correction facilities; voucher subsidies for religious schools; the disallowing of selective faiths from funding; forcing states to support religious education, and the list goes on.
This is a huge voting block that needs to know we embrace them. We need their vote and we should make certain they know we will support them. We need to go to their churches, synagogues, mosques, pastoral halls, and wherever they may congregate and invite them to join us to take back our country.
In this same pre-eminence of religious superiority, this president stated in his State of the Union address that his belief is that marriage is between a man and a woman. He called for a defense of the 'sanctity of marriage' against activist judges who are attempting to redefine marriage by court order. He further asked the people to help him and their elected representatives save the 'sanctity of marriage'.
This president has no place defining the 'sanctity of marriage'. That is the domain of individuals and their personal religious beliefs; it is a direct assault to our Constitution and the separation of church and state.
This condemnation is directed to a large sector of alternative lifestyle partners. These couples are no less loving, no less devoted to one another than the 'sanctified' couple's President Bush referenced. Without the legal union these impugned couples cannot avail themselves to a single one of the 1,049 laws and benefits automatically entitled by marriage in the Federal system.
A Gay couple can live together for 25 years and yet they cannot assume their spouse's pension, they're not entitled to bereavement leave, child custody, automatic inheritance, domestic violence protection, immunity against testifying against their spouse, joint bankruptcy, sick leave to care for their partner, visitation of their partner in the hospital or prison, wrongful death benefits, or loss of consort benefits - and this is just the tip of this iceberg.
Our president should not determine who is a couple and who is not. We need to embrace every citizen and fight for their individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This should include living a loving life as a couple no matter the defining of that couple. Determining who should comprise that couple in matrimony is not the realm of the Federal Government or individual states.
Alternative Lifestyle Couples need to know that we will support their right to the rights of marriage. We need to visit their groups, organizations, clubs, and churches and welcome them to help us take back our country.
Our president wants to prevent 'frivolous' medical lawsuits. 'Frivilous', in this case, refers to limiting the amount of money an injured patient or the family of an injured or deceased patient can sue for medical malpractice.
This does not belong in the office of the president. This is a state issue and should be decided accordingly. Citizens can then elect the representative that supports their personal position. We need to seek these voters and make sure they understand that this president intends to limit their recompense for a doctor's incompetence.
This president wants to 'use (school) drug testing as a tool to save children's lives'. Giving schools this ability has the capability of great abuse and it should never become law. Nor should drug testing in the workplace.
We are in a fight for our liberty. A fight to be protected from an over-zealous police force, to be protected in our home, in our business, and our person; we are in a fight for our basic human rights, our civil liberties, and our personal sovereignty. We are in a fight for the right to work, to keep our social security and Medicare programs secure, to reduce our largest deficient in the history of our country; we are in a fight to have a president that honors and lives by truth, who won't put us or our children or our loved ones in harm's way unnecessarily, or based on a lie.
We are in the fight of our lives.
We need to turn our fear into action. We are indeed in the fight for our very existence; our freedom is at stake. It is time for every citizen to embark on the road to recover our beloved principles, and to once again feel pride in the honor that was once, not so long ago, ours.
We need to reach out to our unreachable, undecided, and unwilling citizens. We need to stir their hearts, open their eyes, and show them the way. It is imperative that we engage our fellow citizens in the importance of voting. We must make this election count. We dare not let numbers on election night be open to interpretation. We need a slam dunk!
Each of us needs to do our share if we truly want to take back our country. It is up to us, each and every one of us. If not, the alternative is very bleak indeed.
© Norma Sherry 2004
Bio: Norma Sherry is co-founder of TogetherForeverChanging.org, an organization devoted to educating, stimulating, and igniting personal responsibility particularly with regards to our diminishing civil liberties. She is also an award-winning writer/producer and host of upcoming television program, The Norma Sherry Show on WQXT St. Augustine/Jacksonville, Fl. Email Norma: firstname.lastname@example.org