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May 22, 2007

Review of “Liberty Tree,” the Journal of the Democratic Revolution, now in its second year.  Building real democracy entails more than just voting issues, as this journal articulates.  The real measure of revolution will be when citizens gain control of elections, removing corporations and government from what is, after all, our democracy. 

Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community recently sponsored the “Great Gathering” in ColumbusOhio. All those who signed up were treated to a complimentary copy of the quarterly journal, Liberty Tree, now in its second year.  I couldn’t wait to read something calling itself the “Journal of the Democratic Revolution.”  

Based in MadisonWisconsin, editor Ben Manski advised that the non-profit, Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution grew out of an Autumn 2004 organization calling itself No Stolen Elections.  Its programs and projects include democratizing education and elections, the law of democracy, and the publication of this journal. 

Contributors to the Spring 07 issue include David Cobb, Rob Richie, as well as VoteTrustUSA leaders, Joan Krawitz and Warren Stewart.  The latter two wrote an article on e-voting, saying: 

“It has become obvious that in too many

instances electronic voting machines have failed both our voters and our democracy.  The range and severity of problems that occurred in the 2006 elections serve as a warning that action must be taken to achieve meaningful reform before the next federal election cycle.” 

In an article called “Forward Thinking,” Adrienne Maree Brown and Patrick Barrett contrast the lackluster results in the Midterm Elections with approval ratings as low as 16% for Congress. They point out that 94% of incumbents were reelected despite this low approval.  That certainly supports no basis for confidence in reported results.  They write:  

“Far from fulfilling the promise of an empowered electorate, our current electoral system serves to concentrate power in the hands of the entrenched and unaccountable social and economic elites.”

While the VoteTrustUSA writers do question the use of software to record votes, no article raises hand-counted paper ballots, run by citizens, as a legitimate alternative to corporate control of our elections.  None of the articles consider the necessity of a trustworthy “first count,” given that recounts, audits and litigation fail to result in a reversal of election results.  Even criminal convictions for Cuyahoga’s (OH) rigged recount did not remove Bush from office. 

First counts matter – the courts are not on the side of voters. Citizen control of elections using an independent model of electoral management can be raised in future issues. Manski agreed to consider outside submissions for publication. 

A fascinating interview of Frances Fox Piven, author of “Why Americans Still Don’t Vote and Why Politicians Want It That Way,” provides historical perspective on voting reform movements in this country.  She calls for non-partisan election officials, describing former Secretaries of State Kenneth Blackwell (Ohio) and Katherine Harris (Florida) as “the more circus-like examples of what is actually outright corruption.”   

Strategies are offered throughout the magazine, but more importantly, upcoming events are advertised.  The first-ever U.S. Social Forum – modeled on the World Social Forum – will be held in AtlantaGeorgia June 27 thru July 1. Organizers anticipate 15,000 people will attend.  Contact www.ussf2007.org or 505.247.8832 for more information.   

Liberty Tree promises to unite activists across many fronts in the movement for U.S.democracy.  Annual subscription prices start at $35.  More information can be found atwww.LibertyTreeFDR.org.