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Civics & Conspiracy: Can Local Efforts Influence A Nation?

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posted on Jun, 19 2007 @ 11:48 PM
Americans from all walks of life are keenly aware that we stand on the edge of a new era in U.S. politics. Policy and legislative actions taken by the curent Bush administration strongly suggest that our elected leadership is ready to take their specific and implied authorities to the next level. In bar rooms, chat rooms, and court rooms across the country, we hear the same fervent hope. "Please, let somebody run for President as an Independent. That's what we realy need."

As we consider the populist wisdom that is put forward by Ron Paul and others, we should also understand that it's not easy to be "your own man" when you're in the White House. It's good that we cherish the notion of independence, but we've also got to understand that there is no such thing when it comes to the country's highest office.

In the years to come, we may very well see politicians running for high offices with “independent” labels,” but they won’t actually be free of all the obligations that worry us today. The best we can hope for is that they will not be slavishly loyal to whatever political or corporate interests which funded their campaigns. It’s fair to say that politicians really do conspire against us when they tell us one thing and do another.

To become a President, a politician must make thousands of deals. Long before they ever reach that point where we can vote for them, they are committed to policies and courses of action which make us feel like they are bought and paid for. Even if a candidate does start out with nothing but the very best of intentions, how can they overcome these political and corporate forces? The short answer is that they can’t overcome ALL of them. With a little help from the voters, they mitigate or bypass SOME of those corruptions.

Politicians aren’t the only ones who can form and carry out conspiracies. Knowing what they are up to and how they’re going to do it gives a large and well-funded network of civic groups and individuals a shot at ‘causing’ small changes over a long period that could eventually force reforms or speed up the process of revolution. Those of you who have read my published work will already know where I’m going with this, so please be patient.

Presidents are NOT independent because they have to trade favors. Some times, thee favor take the form of laws. Others can be paid off in raw dollars or political appointments (jobs).. This truth holds up even for a candidate who runs on an Independent ticket. Because voters choose politicians who have a proven track record of successful deal making, they assume that he or she can be more effective. In many cases, greater success also means that the candidates owes more favors. For this reason, voters tend to like inexperienced candidates. Trouble is ,we don’t always vote for them.

“Clean” candidates who come up through the ranks (Local, State, Federal) could retain a portion of their independence by relying on money that comes without a lot of strings. Let’s be clear on one thing. When you send a candidate even the smallest dollar amount, you are expecting something in return. In some cases, all you may want is good conduct. Candidates of all stripes know about this form of “behavior debt.” It’s not something they can pay off unless the behavior YOU are asking for is part of their normal lifestyle.

A lot of voters do give money to candidates without official strings. Unless you can get face time with the candidate or one of their advisors, you won’t be able to tell them what you want for your money. When the average voter sees what a candidate says and does, they are left to decide for themselves if they want to empower that person with a campaign contribution. The cold hard truth of the matter isthat this kind of soft money makes up fifteen percent or less of a candidate’s cash flow.

A large and well-funded network of civic groups and individuals can channel enough “civic dollars” to local candidates which can actually make a difference in grass-roots politics. Most local politicians can get elected for $300,000 or less. Consider that this could be achieved by 60,000 people each giving $5. Or, 30,000 people each giving $10. Or, 15,000 each giving $20.

When you stop to consider that the average American small town is run by fewer than thirty elected people, it becomes possible to see how a large and well-funded network of civic groups and individuals can effect the races they are most interested in. This is the power that large and well-known political action groups harness for their own purposes. The long term issue of keeping one’s desired political personalities clean long enough for them to reach the Presidency is one that would stump the most deeply embedded group of conspirators. It’s unlikely that any large and well-funded network of civic groups and individuals could raise that kind of money.

Once we understand this for what it is, we can feel better about complaining about the politicians who lead us. That’s because our ability to influence them is limited. The simle fact of the matter is that we can’t focus our energies on the political problem by itself and expect things to get any better. This is why so many people embrace the idea of publicly financed elections. Proponents of this idea believe that by taking campaign contributions out of the mix, you will bring to power a better class of politician. Would that be true? Unlikely ,for just one reason.

Some politicians really do come in to office with nothing. A precious few men and women are elected to public office on the strength of their message. Once on the job, they have daily encounters with people who are willing to pay money or do things in exchange for favors. It’s really hard to say ‘no’ to money in exchange for a policy that you were going to implement, anyway. What’s wrong with being rewarded for something that you agree with?

It’s a well-known fact that State and Federal laws are in place which seek to limit this form of influence. Trouble is, all of these laws contain loop holes. Some of these allegedly reformist laws are written so vaguely that its hard to decipher what they actually mean. Old School influence peddlers go out of their way to make sure that such laws are “handicapped” by such bad writing.

I bring all this to your attention to underscore the fact that with very few exceptions at the local level, there is no such thing as a truly independent politician. This is particularly true of President. Even if the multi-Billionaire Michael Bloomberg were to run on an Independent ticket, he’d still have to face down the political and corporate machines that would greatly influence his chances for success or failure.

As a popular Mayor of New York City, he is positioned to cash in our voter frustration. He would garner a lot of support from the people who so very much want an Independent President. He could out-spend any other candidate two-to-one and still not break his bank. Would he win? No. Why? There aren’t enough “independent voters” and civic-minded people in high places to help him get past the deal makers. Even for a Billionaire, wealth is no freedom from influence.

Sounds bad? Sounds totally hopeless? Wrong. The concept of the independent citizen politician remains nothing more than wishful thinking until the corruption that hurts us at the top is undermined at the bottom. If you’re looking for your very own little conspiracy, this would be it. When we don’t tolerate corruption and influence peddling in our home towns, it becomes easier for us to insist on clean political activity on the State level. Some day ,if we are fortunate enough to win that battle ,we can then insist on a more efficient and honest Federal government.

Corruption and reform each have four things in common. They are voluntary, they can be done when nobody is looking, and they each take decades to unfold. Each can also be initiated by just a few people who really want those things to happen. The political conspiracy to centralized power can be fought by an informed few with limited means if they are willing to invest the time and energy to carry the burden for a very long time. Until that happens, the myth of the clean politician will be no more than the wishful thinking that it is.

posted on Jun, 20 2007 @ 02:13 AM
Justin I don't disagree with the fundamentals about what you are saying but IMO aiming elected an Independent to the Oval Office at this stage is like turning a pyramid upside down and expecting it to stand upright. Change must begin at the grass roots level which in this case is the Mayor of cities and local council members. If people who don't have ties to lobby groups can be elected at the local level things can be taken from there.

posted on Jun, 20 2007 @ 11:25 AM

Originally posted by xpert11
Justin I don't disagree with the fundamentals about what you are saying but IMO aiming elected an Independent to the Oval Office at this stage is like turning a pyramid upside down and expecting it to stand upright. Change must begin at the grass roots level which in this case is the Mayor of cities and local council members. If people who don't have ties to lobby groups can be elected at the local level things can be taken from there.

You have just summarizedthe point I ws trying to make very nicely. Because we are in a Presidential election cycle, there is a lot of attention being paid to that office just now. there's also a lot of talk about about candidates that people would rather see than those currently offered.

Reforms take time, and that not a popular fact just now. My hope isthat by walking through the process, it'll be possible to show people how they can affect the national situation by first starting at the local level.

posted on Jun, 30 2007 @ 03:26 PM
Here's what happens when good citizenship goes bad:

Flaming SUV Rams U.K. Airport; 2 Arrests

Associated Press Writer

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) -- Two men rammed a flaming Jeep Cherokee into the main terminal of Glasgow airport Saturday, crashing into the glass doors at the entrance in what appeared to be the third attempted terror attack on Britain in two days, witnesses said.

Hours later, Britain raised its security alert to "critical" - the highest level possible and an indication that terrorist attacks are imminent. U.S. airports increased safety precautions.

Both suspects were arrested at the Glasgow airport, Scotland's largest. One, his body engulfed in flames as police pulled him from the vehicle, was hospitalized.

There were no reports of injuries but the airport was evacuated and all flights suspended, a day after British police thwarted a plot to bomb central London, discovering two cars abandoned with loads of gasoline, gas canisters and nails. Hundreds fled screaming from the terminal as one of the men poured gasoline over the Jeep and tried to force it further inside the terminal, one witness said.

"One has to conclude ... these are linked," Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, former head of Britain's joint intelligence committee, told Sky News. "This is a very young government, and we may yet see further attacks."

Britain's prime minister, Gordon Brown, a Scot who took office only Wednesday, held a meeting of the government crisis committee, Downing Street said.

A British government security official said the incident was being treated as "possibly terrorist related at this stage." The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

Security officials had no direct intelligence linking the incident to the thwarted plot to bomb London but "are keeping an open mind," the official said.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the security would be raised to critical for the first time since August 2006, when authorities uncovered a plot to blow up several trans-Atlantic flights.

"This is in response to the events of the last 48 hours," Smith said in a statement.

President Bush's spokesman, Tony Snow, said some airports in the United States would tighten security in response to the events in Britain but the terror alert status would not change.

"The most you're going to see right now is some inconvenience - some increased inconvenience of airline passengers, more likely at large airports than small," Snow said.

In Glasgow, the green SUV barreled toward the building shortly after 3 p.m., hitting security barriers before crashing into the glass doors, witnesses said. Two men were in the burning vehicle, one of them engulfed in flames, they said.

"The car came speeding past at about 30 mph. It was approaching the building quickly," said Scott Leeson, who was nearby. "Then the driver swerved the car around so he could ram straight in to the door. He must have been trying to smash straight through."

Lynsey McBean, who was at the terminal, said one of the men took out a plastic gasoline canister and poured its contents under the car. "He then set light to it," said McBean, 26, from Erskine, Scotland. She said the Jeep struck the front door but got jammed.

"They were obviously trying to get it further inside the airport as the wheels were spinning and smoke was coming from them," she said.

Two men were arrested, and one of whom was taken to the hospital, Strathclyde Police spokeswoman Lisa O'Neil said in Glasgow. Police said the Royal Alexandra Hospital, in neighboring Paisley, was evacuated after the suspect arrived.

The car hit the building at an angle and poked into the terminal, directly in front of check-in desks, where dozens of passengers were lined up to check in for flights, police said.

Flames and black smoke rose from the vehicle outside the main entrance. Police said it was unclear if anyone was injured. Other passengers were stranded, with at least one airplane grounded on the runway, the BBC said.

Bush was being keep abreast of the events in London and Scotland.

"We're in contact with British authorities on the matter," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

The crash at Glasgow airport comes exactly a week before the second anniversary of the July 7 bombings that killed 52 people.

Leeson said bollards - security posts outside the entrance - stopped the driver from barreling into the bustling terminal at Glasgow's airport.

"He's trying to get through the main door frame but the bollards have stopped him from going through. If he'd got through, he'd have killed hundreds, obviously," he said.

Two men - one of them engulfed in flames - were in the SUV, witnesses said.

Helen Boaden, a BBC News executive who was at the airport at time, said police "wrestled him to the ground - the fire was burning through his clothes - and finally put him out with a fire extinguisher."

In the London attempt, one car was abandoned outside a nightclub on Haymarket, a busy street of shops, clubs, theaters and restaurants just yards from Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus.

The other had been towed after being parked illegally on a nearby street and was discovered in an impound lot about a mile away near Hyde Park.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, the Metropolitan Police anti-terrorism chief, said the two devices could have caused "significant injury or loss of life."

"London on the Edge" said the front-page headline in The Independent newspaper while the Daily Mail wondered, "Where's the Next Bomb?"

Mayor Ken Livingstone urged Londoners to remain vigilant.

"The discovery of two potential car bombs in central London, with those responsible still at large, means we face a very real threat of terrorist attack at this moment in time," he said.

The Times newspaper reported that police distributed a document to nightclubs two weeks ago warning of the threat from "vehicle-borne explosive devices" - car bombs. The document, prepared by the National Counterterrorism Security Office, took the form of general counterterrorism advice for British clubs.

Intelligence officials were examining a post to an Islamist Web site - hours before the cars were found - that suggested Britain would be attacked for awarding a knighthood to the novelist Salman Rushdie and for intervening in Muslim countries.

posted on Dec, 29 2007 @ 11:43 PM
Does good citizenship still matter? I'd like to think that it does. As we approach the 2008 Presidential primaries, we should revisit the matter of "civics." Do they still matter? I think so. Good citizenship ish ard, and it often means getting your hands dirty with issues that you'd rather let somebody else deal with.

Our vote does matter, even if we think its a waste of time to put down the remote and get off the couch. It's worth noting that 70% of us won't vote. This means that a slim 30% minority gets to decide the fate of the nation. If, for some reason, we managed a 50% voter turnout, we might stand a better chance of getting a better outcome than what we're going to experience in November.

posted on Jan, 5 2008 @ 11:49 AM
It's worth noting that the electoral upsets in Iowa demostrate that people can still vote their conscience in a Presidential race. Those who had the most "experience" didn't do so well. The showings of Huckabee and Obama demostrate that the primaries are still up for grabs, which should encourage you to get out and vote.

posted on Jan, 17 2008 @ 06:38 PM
I'd like tp oint out the fact that Democrats and Republicans alike are having a hard time reading your mind. Poll-takers are so unsure of their results tha they almost don't want to try and survey any more. Whaddya know? Your vote is harder to track and influence than they thought. Good for you, bad for them.

posted on Jan, 25 2008 @ 03:15 PM
As we prepare to witness the South Carolina primary, let's remember that people tend to vote their conscience in most primaries. It's not until the general election that they struggle with the question of electability. In most primary races, you're going to see a greater indication of what the voters really want.

Remember that Ron Paul has been a bigger spoiler for the Republicans so far than anyone predicted. He's not going to win his party's nomination, but he is in a positon to say what's on his mind, thanks for local voter turnout.

posted on Feb, 6 2008 @ 07:30 PM
We've just had our Super Tuesday run of primaries here in America. 22 States cast their ballots or held their caucuses. It's now clear that populist candidates in both parties have taken the lead. I bring this to your attention as proof that local efforts can still make difference.

John McCain has been the loose cannon in his party for quite some time. With very little money, he has come from behind to be the GOP's uncontested frontrunner.

Barack Obama continues to ride his popularity wave. He is now in serious contention for his party's nomination. Can his short resume stand up to the heat of a general election? Looks like we're going to find out.

Just remember one thing. This "situation" is more proof that YOU matter. Your vote matters, and so does how you spend your money. In the face of an over-powered corrupt government, you might be tempted to just roll over and give up.

Even if you're not getting the candidate you most wanted, you should be aware that we are seeing an upset of historical proportions in both parties.

posted on Mar, 11 2008 @ 04:49 PM
I don't get in here as much as I'd like, but...I'd like to point out that the folsk in Mississippi are having their primary today. The race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is still very tight. The votes in Mississippi matter more in this election than they did in 2004. Just more proof that your grass roots efforts are not in vein. Obama may not be "your guy," but you're still getting your chance to have your say.

posted on Mar, 28 2008 @ 01:50 PM
In terms of the topic it is worth noting that Limbaugh may have broken Ohio election laws. See this thread. I'm going to leave it up to Americans to pass judgement on this one although I must say it doesn't go down to well with me .

A part of good civics must surely be examining situations like this one.

posted on Mar, 30 2008 @ 04:37 PM

Originally posted by xpert11
In terms of the topic it is worth noting that Limbaugh may have broken Ohio election laws. See this thread. I'm going to leave it up to Americans to pass judgement on this one although I must say it doesn't go down to well with me .

I've been asked many times to comment on this. For those who don't know, nationally syndicated talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been encouraging Republicans to cross over and vote for Hillary Clinton. His goal is to kep her in the race and (I quote), "to bloody up Barack Obama because our side won't do it."

The tactic isn't new, and it was used with great frequency in America prior to World War 2. This is one reason why both political parties prefer closed primaries, where you can only vote for the candidates of your own partisan registery. Now that John McCain has all the popular votes delegates he needs to be his party's nominee, Limbaugh seems to think its fair to ask the voters in the 10 remaining primaries to indulge in what he laughingly calls "operation chaos."

Good citizenship is hard. It means doing your own homework, and making up your own mind. It can mean going out of your way to ask the hard questions. It can also mean having the nerve to hear the answers, especially when they reveal or touch on things that make you unhappy.

I don't like this kind of tactic. It's socially dishonest, and it serves the politicians more than it benefits the people. Limbaugh is encouraging his audieicne to be sheeep. He's misleading them in to believing that they are doing a good then, when they're only serving the interests of the people who sign his paycheck.

We can't make cross-over illegal. We should not make cross-over illegal. If it really does happen that people change their minds--and their candidate allegiances--we should be prepared to accept it for the honest social migration that it is...or...should be.

Morality, ethics, and the law, don't always line up. They don't always mesh. What's good for us as citizens is generally not good for the people in power. I'm fond of saying "they serve us or, we serve them." We WILL serve them, if we allow ourselves to be manipulated in this fashion.

[edit on 30-3-2008 by Justin Oldham]

posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 08:21 AM
OK I am going post my main overall concerns or worries concerning the NZ political system . I will keep it short in order to stay on topic . My main concern is that one of the smaller party's could disappear leaving a power vacuum that is filled by one of the two major party's. Put another way either Labour or National could govern alone.

I am bothered by the fact the Attorney General is a sitting MP this really does take away over sight or another way of keeping politicians in check. How to deal with these issues falls beyond the scope of this thread.

posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 05:15 PM
To stay on topic, I have a few questions.

a. What is the local opinion on this matter?

b. What local initiatives are being started to combat this problem?

c. How much local support is there to keep things the way they are?

posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 05:58 PM
No matter how wealthy you are, and no matter how many people you have in the same organization, and whatever funds you come up with

You can't win a war of dollars with people who can create them.

Bankers own the earth.

(so long as we let them)

[edit on 14-4-2008 by ianr5741]

posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 06:12 PM
For some background see this thread

Originally posted by Justin Oldham
a. What is the local opinion on this matter?

Well a survey at the last election showed that many people think there are to many party's in Parliament . This is clearly at odds with our political system .

b. What local initiatives are being started to combat this problem?

Not a whole lot at present the smaller party's rely on the publicity of election campaigns to bring them back into the spot light. This may not be enough once the figures that some of the smaller party's are build around retire.

c. How much local support is there to keep things the way they are?

Well there isnt any great movement that advocates removing MMP . The problem seems to be to few voters have a firm grip on MMP.


Sure MMP is complex even I'm not sure if I fully grasp its inner workings at times.

posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 11:01 PM
What's the government line on this? What are the departments and elected politicians saying?:

posted on Apr, 15 2008 @ 12:01 AM
There isnt really a government line of thinking on this matter well not publicly anyway. Both major party's have to be prepared to work with coalition partners but would naturally like to govern alone. No political party or leader is going to admit that once they or there leader goes that there party has a bleak future.

We may faces this issue gradually or all in one hit depending on events . I hope that we aren't hit by Jim and Winston retiring at the same election . This could happen in the next electoral cycle. If one goes before the other it will be possible to get some gauge on what will happen and how the power vacuum will be filled. Losing the Progressive party wouldn't have much effect on the political unlike if NZ First was to disappear .

When ever you deal with smaller party's you cant avoid entering the realm of tactical voting. There is the time old question do I vote for one of the two major party's or voted purely based on my beliefs .

In general it seems that for the health of our political system it could be wise to move away from the presidential style elections no disrespect intended . The framework of the voter is still geared towards the two major party's with media coverage dealing with who would form a coalition with what party .

I rate the Greens and the Maori party of having the highest survivability. Even if a couple of party's vanishing doesn't mean one of the major party's could govern alone. We could end up with a Labour - Maori Party - Greens coalition.

posted on Apr, 15 2008 @ 10:30 AM
For many reasons, we tend to forget that our vote has power. We forget that in large numbers, our vote can change the makeup of our governments. This is not something our politicians want us to remember.

posted on Apr, 15 2008 @ 06:51 PM
Justin that is very true it is up to the vote to use the degree of control that MMP gives them but I digress . Returning to the focus of the topic .

Is it fair to say that the two party state has failed in the US ?

The notion that the two party state has failed in the US is hardly out of this world . The two party state failed in New Zealand so its not like it is unheard of .

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