Friday, December 31, 2010

Beyond Elections Part 13

As we end the year it is great to look at what we call "Democracy" and go beyond what we have in the US. Getting more turnout is one part.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Two Rhode Island Legislators Want December Run-Offs When No One gets 50% in November

Two Rhode Island legislators say they will introduce a proposed state constitutional amendment in 2011, providing that when no one in a November election for federal or state office gets as much as 50% of the total vote, the state will hold a run-off in December. See this story.

One wonders if the two legislators are aware of alternate election systems that would solve the problem they perceive, without adding to the expense and probable poor voter turnout in their proposed December run-offs.

The article mentions that the Attorney General’s race last month is an example of a race in which no one got 50% in November. In that race, the vote was: Democartic 43.1%; Republican 29.0%; Moderate Party 14.4%; two independent candidates, one of whom polled 9.6% and the other 4.0%.

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It is possible that Instant Runoff Voting could be a cheaper answer!

Beyond Elections Part 12

If you appreciate the irony of anti-democratic individuals and institutions attacking democratic practices then this is a good section to watch...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Beyond Elections Part 10

One of the most important components if we are to have real democracy - Social Movements!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

College, Jobs and Inequality NYT

Education is important and vital, but not sufficient. We need to promote education AND promote policies which support our way of life where people have fair opportunities, and fair opportunities for participation. Just like there is more to democracy than elections, there is more to economic opportunities than a degree.

From the NYT article College, Jobs and Inequality

College is still the path to higher-paying professions. But without a concerted effort to develop new industries, the weakened economy will be hard pressed to create enough better-paid positions to absorb all graduates.

And to combat inequality, the drive for more college and more jobs must coincide with efforts to preserve and improve the policies, programs and institutions that have fostered shared prosperity and broad opportunity — Social Security, Medicare, public schools, progressive taxation, unions, affirmative action, regulation of financial markets and enforcement of labor laws.

Beyond Elections Part 6

This section starts by talking about reducing hierarchy and increasing participation. We often wonder why there is such low voter turnout in the US, it seems obvious that our "winner-take-all" electoral system along with the representative nature of politics does not inspire people to participate. People want more power and control over their lives. Decades of using the term "democracy" has raised expectations. And rightfully so!

The discussion about the difference between an elected representative and a spokesperson is a stretch for many of us, but something to consider deeply. The discussion about taking and internalizing and doing the work for democracy is important as well. We have become so accustomed to voting and waiting for the next election that all of this seems odd. But real democracy will be really challenging work.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Beyond Elections Part 5

This section goes into the communal councils created in Venezuela. While there was some organic development of this process, it really took off with an official change in electoral power. This is another example of where elections and grassroots can work together to create real community power.

In the sections on communal councils there is some discussion of the improvement over their old neighborhood association structure. This may be of value for people doing work on this level in the US. Neighborhood associations are important but often not inclusive or engaging. There is definitely work to be done on that front.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Georgia Prisoners Continue Strike for Second Day

Georgia prisoners continue their strike. The strike is for basic rights in a state that does not pay for prison labor. It is important to note that prisoners of various backgrounds are working in solidarity within a system that uses racism to keep people divided.

And ironically the Georgia prison system chose to respond to a work stoppage by locking down the prison. When the imprisoned do not work they need to stay in their cells anyway. This seems like a cheap tactic for the benefit of the corporate media.

The prison system is showing its true colors by cutting out hot water and turning off the heat, even though the temperatures are in their 30s. According to Common Dreams, "Prisoners are demanding, in their own words, decent living conditions, adequate medical care and nutrition, educational and self-improvement opportunities, just parole decisions, just parole decisions, an end to cruel and unusual punishments, and better access to their families."

The Georgia Green Party is urging negotiations in order to resolve the situation. More solidarity is necessary to put pressure on the Georgia incarceration system.

Overview of State Legislative Elections from BAN

From Ballot Access News:

Tim Storey has this comprehensive summary of the results of state legislative elections, including a map that shows which major party controls each state’s legislature. Unfortunately, the article does not mention that independents or minor party members were elected to state legislatures in ten states this year.


This article like many avoid dealing with the anti-democratic nature of the "winner take all" electoral system which limits choices for voters which is a huge part of the low voter turnout. And given that more and more people are feeling that the two parties are serving the rich at the cost of the working people of the United States, more are proposing a progressive split from the Dems.

It will be tough for any changes in power without structural changes in the electoral system. The question is how do we achieve those types of changes. We need either a major uprising of the population or truly pro-democratic, and inclusive elected officials to be a large enough group to make the changes. Until then we need to find cracks in the systems we interact with to practice real democracy that includes the excluded.

Beyond Elections Part 4

Friday, December 10, 2010

Beyond Elections Part 3

This video is inspiring. What is most amazing is that some of the most "progressive" voices in the US do not ever discuss opening up democracy. Instead they usually talk about multiple parties acting as "spoilers." If they were truly progressive and truly democratic they would work toward widening and deepening our democratic foundations.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Georgia Prisoners on Strike

Georgia prisoners are on strike. In an incredibly historic action, black, brown and white prisoners in the dreadful prison system of the state of Georgia have gone on a one day strike.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Breaking Ground

A group worked to create urban gardening guidelines for the International District in Burque.

Beyond Elections Part 2

It is amazing that they share this!

If only the supposedly "progressive politicians" would get us to this type of democracy. It is obvious that electoral representation only is not enough!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Stop Tax Giveaways!

Those elected to represent the people are choosing to represent the rich. Extending the tax giveaways to the millionaires and billionaires while hundreds of thousands of families are losing their unemployment benefits during the winter is nothing short than criminal. Unfortunately it seems that the 98% of working people really don't matter.

Hopefully unemployment benefits will be raised for at least as long as the tax giveaways are!

The fact that "middle-class" is already being defined as $60,000 a year and above should let most of us know what we do not talk about most of the time. Many of us are working-class. Working people, working families, working-class. It is time that everyone has a fair chance to support their families. One way to make that happen is to stop redistributing wealth from working people to the rich!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Albuquerque Youth Health Summit 12/4/10

The Albuquerque Youth Building Health Communities project held their Youth Health Summit today. Representatives of La Raza Unida, Young Women United, SWOP and other groups were there to discuss health from a youth perspective and also talk about solutions.

The group will continue to process the information and look for a project to follow through on. It was very exciting to discuss health from a social justice perspective. These youth may truly be the future!