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Responsible Citizenship Series
by George Parker, author of "How To Win An Impossible Election"

.RE: Citizen’s Election Year Reminders --- Responsible Citizenship Series.

Every election year, as a public service, could be a time to remind citizens of their duty as Responsible Citizens!

Responsible citizenship is fundamental to a democratic government. To function as a democratic society requires political leaders (office holders) and active citizens.

A Responsible Citizenship Series of four writings is enclosed. For use in 2008 as citizen reminders The titles are:
1. Individual Power–How Citizens Control the U.S.
2. Propaganda – for Responsible Citizens.
3. Deciding How To Vote.
4. Responsible Citizen -- Political Quiz/IQ. Could be printed as a wrap-up or final item of the Series. Or, if desired, the line below would be placed on the bottom of the 3rd in the Series.: The reader’s response would come to the newspaper or media, which printed the reminders:


Individual Power - How Citizens Control the U.S.

by George Parker, author of "How To Win An Impossible Election"
(1st of Series of four on Responsible Citizenship, election year 2008; Next--Propaganda).

The consent of the governed is a pillar of democratic government. By your voice and vote you share an equal responsibility with other citizens to guide this nation. How do citizens exercise control?

First, via freedom of speech and press. A citizen is free, for example, to send letters to the editor or to place ads in the news media to counter half-truths or lies or to support one’s own views. Any citizen may "petition the government for a redress of grievances." (1st Amendment, Bill of Rights). This becomes more powerful when the petition is signed by many other citizens, and passed to the media. Perhaps the greatest power, beyond voting, is freedom of speech. Proof of this is the success of individuals exercising their freedom of speech by speaking publicly.

Consider the medicine salesmen, speaking from their horse drawn wagon, to the speaker today who calls in on talk shows or sells something on television making millions of dollars. The evidence is clear, public speaking is powerful! Speaking and writing are not only power tools of leaders, but valuable assets citizens may use to maintain democratic government.

Second, via freedom of assembly. Citizens have the right,.."peaceably to assemble.." (1st Amend; Hague v. CIO 307U.S.496-1939) to support causes, organize political clubs or whatever. When some zoning measure would place a garbage dump near your property, you are usually notified by mail. You have the opportunity to organize your friends. If you fail to gather support and the other side shows up with fifty people, you may be on the losing side. The person who says he is not interested in politics will suddenly be interested when he sees the local news story about a garbage dump near his property. Citizen’s protection: Previous notice, Open hearings, Appeals.

Problems and solutions are aired through meetings. "Oratory must precede action in a free society." This requires citizens who will speak out and act.

Third, via the secret ballot. Many citizens will not speak out at a public hearing. When speaking out may jeopardize one’s livelihood, the ballot can be the citizen’s secret weapon. Voting is the citizen’s power to control. Since large percentages of citizens fail to vote, does this mean they do not understand their power? Failing to vote could allow a minority to win when it should have lost!

Citizens In Control. Some may claim to be "above politics" or believe they are without power to control their own destiny. But citizens empowered with freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the secret ballot have the power, to a great degree, to shape the destiny of their city, county, state and nation. For example, in a non-partisan city government, who is responsible to obtain candidates? From the masses, who will take action? Who will take the lead to obtain a needed swimming pool or be a candidate for public office? Who will be the "spark plug"?. Waiting for "them" to fulfill a need can be fruitless.

Volunteers need to arise in a democratic society on many occasions where no one is responsible to act or no leader is present.

Former Congressman Timothy Penny in the book "Common Sense", with Major Garrett, said: "There has never been an idea more radical than a government that derives its powers from the consent of the people….If you are unhappy with your government, you must do something about it…If you want better government, you must first become a better citizen."


Propaganda – For Responsible Citizens

By George Parker, author of How To Win An Impossible Election
Editor’s Note: This is the 2nd in a four part series; Next: Deciding How to Vote, 2008

In an election year, reminders about propaganda may help voters in their decision making.

Webster’s dictionary re propaganda: : "...any systematic, widespread dissemination or promotion of particular ideas, doctrines, further one’s own cause or to damage an opposing one. often used disparagingly to connote deception or distortion."

Good or evil ideas may be spread by propaganda. This makes it important, in human relations in general, and especially in political campaigns. To maintain a democratic system, according to Thomas Jefferson, requires virtuous and enlightened citizens. That is, honest and educated.

It is common for propaganda to be projected so as to take advantage of people’s emotions and deep seated beliefs. For example, how many television or newspaper ads have you seen designed to sell a product having little to no relation to females, but posed by the product is a lovely female? The speaker who can cause an audience to cry or laugh may understand people’s deep seated beliefs and emotions better than they understand themselves.

LeBon’s Discovery
A French psychologist pointed out that an affirmation, that is, a slogan or a simple statement, can be powerful in persuading public opinion. He was Gustave LeBon (1841-1931).

LeBon said, "Affirmation, pure and simple, kept free from all reasoning and proof, is one of the surest ways of making an idea enter the minds of the crowd. The more concise the affirmation is, the more destitute of every appearance of proof, the more weight it carries. Affirmation, however, has no significance unless it is constantly repeated..." One test any citizen can make of the use of LeBon’s ideas is to hear or read the news on Friday and Saturday, then tune in to Meet the Press and Face the Nation on Sunday TV. You may recognize some concise messages repeated by the speaker or surrogates.

Slogans can be effective.. Some historical examples are: Tippacanoe and Tyler, Too; The missile gap overseas, and He’s trigger happy on the A-Bomb The oldest and most common political campaign slogan has been, "Its time for a change."

Perception can be just as powerful as truth.
Will Propaganda Overcome Us

Any citizen who follows the news, is being subjected to propaganda daily.

One word left out of a newscast unintentionally, might change the meaning entirely. Some parents have advised, " Believe nothing of what you hear and about half of what you see.

Individuals faced with making decisions as to what to believe might consider body language, intuition and their general knowledge. These reminders might help one to be less gullible; perhaps more skeptical.

A historic reflection: An editorial of July 28, 1958, in the Montgomery, Alabama Advertiser entitled Propaganda, Foreign and Domestic, said, ..."In 1937, when Nazi propaganda (bad propaganda, that is) was reaching its most effective peak, a New England philanthropist established an Institute for Propaganda Analysis to analyze non-rational propaganda. Several tests were prepared for use in instructing high school and college students, to teach then how to break down propagandized doctrines and claims for themselves. .... The Institute was abandoned in 1941 because it didn’t seem quite cricket for Americans to be taught how to see through the canards, half-truths and exaggerations being spread by this country, Britain, France, etc."

Is propaganda an advertising tool, a tool for business, educational, religious and political leaders or a tool for all of these? Responsible citizens are faced with judging propaganda. Their successes may carry our nation toward fulfillment of the national goal of "liberty and justice for all."


Deciding How To Vote?

By George Parker, author of How To Win An Impossible Election.
Editor’s note: This is the third of a four part series; Next-- Political Quiz, 2008

A friend recently asked, "What do you consider the highest priority issue in the next election?"
The Most Important Issue

My reply: Survival is the most important issue in the upcoming election and in this period of history. Why? Because the current form of warfare called Terrorism is barbaric involving the murdering of innocent people on buses and the like. Terrorism has been used in the past, but never to such a sophisticated level, including the possible use of weapons of mass destruction.

Why the bipartisan decision to attack Iraq. Our leaders, including the Democrats and Republicans on the Congressional committees of Intelligence and Foreign Relations, for the most part, came to an agreement to authorize a preemptive strike on Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction were cited as one reason, but I suspect the most compelling reason was barbaric terrorism as a form of warfare. Our leaders must have believed the gravity of this situation called for decisive action. There was no assurance that such terrorism could be stopped or that some terrible weapon that could not be detected at airport screening, might be discovered next month.

Not finding WMD did not change the fact that such weapons had been used by Iraq in the war with Iran. Also, Saddam had the potential to aid and abet terrorists. He had been giving $25,000. prizes for suicide bomber’s relatives. Leaders know that politics can produce "strange bedfellows.." It would not have been unreasonable, for example, to surmise that al Qaida and Saddam could pursue a common enemy.

The vivid demonstration of our high tech weapons was comparable to battleship diplomacy of years ago. It must have had a chilling effect upon other nations, especially the tyrants of the world. It probably also surprised some of our friends who saw what tremendous power we possess. It follows, and can be expected, that the top fellow will be a target of jealousy, even from some friends.

Reminders for Voting Citizens

American political parties are adversaries.. One writer said, "Each one is trying to find faults with the other and they both usually succeed.". Will voters recognize the difference between candidates being "politically correct" out of respect for the audience vs those who use "political correctness" to exaggerate or pander leaving the voter wondering what the candidate’s real stand is on an issue? Actions by party activists may include: Making mountains out of mole hills; raising the eyebrows at appropriate times to disdain the opponent’s words; and exaggerations. Will Roger’s said, "A radical is a feller on the other side. To weed the wheat from the chaff may take patience and some reading between the lines. Citizens who do not take time to listen to the news reports or read the newspapers may depend upon some trusted friend to help them decide how to vote The record:

- If 50% vote for President – that is about tops.
- If 26% vote to elect local officials – that is about average.
- If 17% vote on a bond issue to build a new hospital – that is about average.

Vote: help prove that the majority can rule wisely.


Responsible Citizen – Political Quiz

By George Parker, author of How To Win An Impossible Election
Editor’s Note: Fourth of four part series on Responsible Citizenship Series, 2008.

Every citizen with an equal vote is a politician, to some degree.

The people are the masters of this nation, but many act as though they have little to no power.

Individuals with freedom have power, such as the right to petition government (Amendment One, Bill of Rights), writing letters to editors, placing ads in news media with their own money, speaking to influence others on issues, serve as a candidate, and more. Consider who has won U.S. elections for over a century – primarily only the Democrat or Republican Party. This should remind us that significant power lies in using freedom of assembly – organizing voters to obtain a majority vote. This power can be tremendous with a leader who possesses public speaking and organizational abilities. History shows that one free citizen may be responsible for a major reform movement in a democratic society.

Individuals can make a difference by participating in party organizations. When citizens organize and obtain 50% +1, they win control. Bad ideas may be stopped early if a cross section of citizen volunteers participate in developing solutions on government boards and commissions.

When citizens fail to participate this could permit a minority to win. One example, a recent local election, involved whether to reduce the penalty for a drug conviction. This issue had been on the ballot a few months before, and was defeated by a good margin. There were competing media ads and vocal leaders active on both sides of the issue.

However, at the next election this issue was placed on the ballot in a slightly changed arrangement. This time, there was no visible opposition organization, and the issue carried with a good margin.

This appeared to be a situation where citizens who defeated the measure previously, sat on the sidelines – perhaps thinking it would not pass again. Or, perhaps an example showing that the will of a silent majority can be defeated by a determined minority?

"We get the government we deserve not the one we wish for," is still pertinent today. Regardless of ones field of work, each voter has an equal responsibility for this government. "The degree that free government is good depends upon the degree that good citizens participate in it.". No citizen is "above politics!."


Responsible Citizen’s Political Quiz

Consider your own Political IQ – check the answers and add your score below:

Have you ever ... Yes or No

1. Written a Letter to the Editor? ___ ___
2 Contributed money to a Party or a candidate: ___ ___
3. Served as a Party volunteer in an election year? ___ ___
4. Hosted a coffee for a candidate? ___ ___
5. Spoken at a meeting on behalf or a candidate? ___ ___
6. Started a candidate support group or a club? ___ ___
7. Served as a poll worker? ___ ___
8. Attended a Party Caucus meeting? ___ ___
9. Attended a State or National Party Convention? ___ ___
10. Been a candidate for an elective public office? ___ ___

Note: If you answer Yes to one question, you are above average ___ ___
A Yes to two or more is a Politically Responsible Citizen ___ ___

David S. Broder, columnist for the Washington Post, said, "To be strong and responsible, our parties must be representative and they can be no more representative than our participation allows. Millions more of us need to get into partisan political activity."

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