Act Two: The Struggle Continues

From crisispapers.org: Is it time, asks Ernest Partridge, for the Obamaphiles to retire from politics, return to their private lives, and just let Barack be Barack?

December 2, 2008 (crisispapers.org) – Barack Obama is President-Elect, the Democrats have significantly increased their majorities in Congress, the Supreme Court drift to the right has been halted and may soon be reversed, and the Republican Party is in disgrace and disarray.

So is it time, at last, for the Obamaphiles to retire from politics, return to their private lives, and just let Barack be Barack?

If that is to be the prevailing attitude among the millions of ordinary citizens who fell into line and powered the Obama bandwagon to victory last month, then the drive to restore our Constitution and to reestablish economic justice and the rule of law will stall, and the “change we can believe in” will prove to be an empty promise.

For while the right wing oligarchy has been set back by the Obama victory, it has not been defeated. The public-relations/media/think-tank juggernaut that bedeviled and crippled the Clinton presidency is still intact and in operation. The regressive ideology has been repudiated for the moment, but the regressives still have the resources to restore it.

It has happened before. Even though Barry Goldwater was trounced by LBJ in 1964, 60/40 in the popular vote, four years later Richard Nixon reclaimed the White House for the GOP. Bill Clinton’s 1992 triumph was crippled just two years later, when Newt Gingrich engineered a Republican take-over of the Congress, followed by the unrelenting harassment and eventual impeachment of Clinton.

A regressive resurgence? It has happened before, and it will happen again, unless a broad-based and persistent progressive movement consigns regressivism to the dustbin of history.

This is a battle that must be waged on many fronts. Here are just five of them:

Election Reform

The incoming Obama administration will put an end to the massive Justice Department campaign to disenfranchise likely Democratic voters, and this welcome development will substantially enhance the prospects of future Democratic candidates.

But the larger problem of election fraud by the private electronic voting industry remains.

On its face, the continuing use of direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines is absurd and indefensible in a nation claiming to be democratic. The crux of this scandal is compellingly simple: these machines, built and programmed by politically biased private individuals, use secret software and are designed to allow no independent audit of their accuracy.  Similarly, the computers that compile (add up) the separate vote totals operate with secret software and report election returns that can not be independently verified.  Thus there is no direct means to determine whether or not the reported vote totals are the same as the votes actually cast. However, there is an abundance of indirect statistical, anecdotal and empirical evidence that DRE machines have stolen elections, most significantly the presidential election of 2004. (For references, see my “Election 2008: Who Decides? The People or the Programmers?” and follow the links.)

Despite this evidence, the corporate media and the Democratic Party have expressed virtually no concern whatever about a technology that has quite probably robbed the Democrats of several congressional and at least one presidential election.

Will the next Congress revisit the “Help America Vote Act” (HAVA) and mandate independent verification of election returns and the publication of computer source codes? Given the lack of interest in the issue to date, the prospects are not promising. And yet, if the congressional Democrats were to propose such legislation, they would have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Accurate or not (and again, who knows?) widespread doubts about “black box” DRE voting machines have eroded public confidence in election results, and with the loss of confidence comes a loss in the legitimacy of public offices and legislation.

Draft legislation to require verifiable voting methods would put the onus of doubt upon those who opposed it. How could a legislator justify opposition to verifiable elections. Expense?  But electronic voting is more costly by far than paper ballots.

Election reform, including the abolition of secret source codes and non-auditable voting machines, is a no-brainer. The public deserves nothing less.

The Media Problem

In the presidential campaign just completed, Barack Obama was treated much more fairly by the corporate media than were Al Gore (“inventing the internet”) and John Kerry (“Swift Boat Vets”). The Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers issues, though hammered repeatedly by the GOP, were not amplified by the media. Perhaps, with the major economic storm gathering, the owners and managers of the media conglomerates figured that the nation’s economy would be better managed by grown-ups, even if they were of “that other party,” than by self-confessed economic ignoramuses.

But now, with the election over, the corporate media have reverted to form. Once again, Republicans and conservatives greatly outnumber liberal Democrats on the Sunday TV gab-fests. And, once again, GOP talking points are being repeated endlessly, in particular the meme that “this is a center-right nation,” despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary from polling and the election.

Media fact-checking continues its extended leave of absence. Case-in-point: the oft-repeated viral falsehood that the average auto worker earns $70 an hour. This figure is reached by including, as part of a worker’s compensation, payments to retirees and their survivors. In fact, the average auto worker earns $28 an hour, plus health and retirement benefits, which raise that figure to about $40.

This is the same mass media which, for a long time, convinced a majority of Americans that Saddam Hussein (a) had weapons of mass destruction, (b) was in league with al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and (c) was involved in the 9/11 attacks.

I will not extend this list of transgressions by the corporate media. (But visit mediamatters.org and see my “The Wayward Media”). Suffice to say, that at long last the public is beginning to wise-up — “fool me once” and all that. So-called “mainstream media news” is losing its audience along with its credibility, as more and more of the public turns to the internet and to independent and foreign sources for news.

The GOP is well aware of the damage that it has suffered at the hands of a free internet, and thus open access to the internet might not have survived a McCain/Palin victory last month. Fortunately, that concern has been lifted. The free internet will be safe during the administration of Barack Obama, who is presumably well aware that he owes his office to the internet.

With this media resource thus secured, the liberal and progressive communities must continue to use the internet to exert constant pressure on the President to keep to his promises. He might, in fact, welcome that pressure. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s reported plea to a supporter might apply as well to Barack Obama: “I agree with you. I want to do it. Now make me do it.”

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