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Gibson writes: "Our media has conditioned us to think that our voice is heard only when we vote, and that the only significant voting is done every 4 years."

A protester at the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, pumps his fist as participants in the Wisconsin protests rally against Republican Gov. Scott Walker's bill to severely curtail the rights of state labor unions. (photo: Darren Hauck/Reuters)
A protester at the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, pumps his fist as participants in the Wisconsin protests rally against Republican Gov. Scott Walker's bill to severely curtail the rights of state labor unions. (photo: Darren Hauck/Reuters)

Your Civic Duty

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

07 November 12

Reader Supported News | Perspective

very American has a duty to their country and their democracy. And I'm not talking about voting.

Sure, voting is important. 2012 is one of the highest-turnout elections we've seen in years. People voting means people expressing their voice. But if Americans see voting as their only voice, they're willfully rendering themselves to silence the other 364 days of the year when there isn't a general election. Your vote is your voice, but so are your feet, your hands, your words, your writing, and your community.

We don't use our voices just to elect Democrats or Republicans or Greens. We use our voices to stop wars, speak out against injustice, or to condemn suppression of our rights. Right now, 35 million Americans don't know where their next meal is coming from, and 13 million of those are children. At the same time, the Federal Reserve is handing over $40 billion per month to Wall Street bankers and calling it "quantitative easing." Each day you choose not to speak out about that is another day that those who destroyed our economy with mortgage-backed securities wallow in cash, while children in your own neighborhood miss a meal. If that's okay with you, then by all means, stay silent.

Right now, PFC Bradley Manning, a 24 year-old US soldier (and Nobel Peace Prize nominee) who leaked footage of American war crimes to the public, has been in solitary confinement for two years in conditions which have been described by human rights monitors as "punitive" and "degrading," without even being given a trial. The president we just re-elected signed a bill into law on New Years' Eve that would allow the government to do the same to any of us, for any reason, at any time, and is even seeking to make whistleblowing a crime punishable by death. We just re-elected to Congress men and women who voted to make nonviolent protest, which is a fundamental First Amendment right, a felony around anyone with secret service protection. While the President of the United States speaks loftily about "taking the side of Democracy" for protesters in Tahrir Square, the police force in America's largest city responds to Americans expressing those same rights with overwhelming brutality with the consenting silence of that same president. If all of that is okay with you, then by all means, remain silent.

Our media has conditioned us to think that our voice is heard only when we vote, and that the only significant voting is done every 4 years. Our economy has conditioned us to silence our own voices out of fear of losing the only source of income that helps us keep the lights on and the kids fed. But our voices have always been heard, ever since we helped women earn the right to vote, since we instituted child labor laws, since we ended segregation and helped end the Vietnam War. Our rights granted to us by our nation's founders will only exist on paper if we stop using them. Be proud of voting and vote regularly, sure. But be even prouder of taking to the streets to fight oppression and demand justice. It's the only way we can force change without having to depend on bought politicians. Don't let those politicians take that voice away from you. That's our civic duty.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+40 # papabob 2012-11-07 17:33
Thank God - he won!! This election shows us with out a doubt that America recognizes and accepts Obama as our leader.

But please take credit for what you have done, Reader Supported News. Along with the hard job you picked for yourselves, and the articles you ran from your many contributors, you helped carry the flag.

Good for you, RSN. You done good.
+17 # doneasley 2012-11-08 00:48
Quoting papabob:
... Good for you, RSN. You done good.

Papabob, RSN certainly should be complimented on their work. Even if readers don't comment, they can read and learn from the wide variety of opinions that surface here. Kudos RSN.
-15 # Vern Radul 2012-11-08 03:24
"This election shows us with out a doubt that America recognizes and accepts Obama as our leader"?

As of 11:20 a.m. Wednesday morning, the popular vote count was 59,903,905 for Obama and 57,208,649 for Romney. ( )

That's about one fifth of Americans.
+8 # readerz 2012-11-08 08:10
Total: 117,112,554. This doesn't count provisional, and in some states absentee ballots. If you subtract citizens who are under 18, this is a good chunk of adult Americans. However, it is probably only half.

The only solution is to require adults to vote (and if they don't want to, they need a doctor's note). Some think this would force people to vote for candidates they don't like, but if there is a box "none" next to each vote line, that would solve it. Too many people think they don't really have to participate in voting, and then they do not like the results. Voter ID laws have made it harder for many people to vote, instead of encouraging people.
+3 # Doubter 2012-11-08 16:55
Voting sounds like a noble enterprise, but every time I do I imagine the politician gloating: "one more sucker to legitimize me."
+2 # Nominae 2012-11-09 02:13
@ readerz

Zowie ! You want to FORCE people to exercise their FREEDOM to VOTE ?

That doesn't even pass the cognitive *dissonance* "straight-face" test !
+5 # reiverpacific 2012-11-08 19:45
Quoting Antemedius:
"This election shows us with out a doubt that America recognizes and accepts Obama as our leader"?

As of 11:20 a.m. Wednesday morning, the popular vote count was 59,903,905 for Obama and 57,208,649 for Romney. ( )

That's about one fifth of Americans.

Well those who don't bother to vote for whatever reason -unless they are non-citizen resident taxpayers like me- have in my opinion surrendered their case for representation from whatever end of the spectrum you are from and shouldn't complain too loudly.
I wish the Hell paying taxes was a qualification for voting as I'd love to have a voice.
In Australia you are obliged by statute to vote and it's such a a hard-fought-and -died-for privilege here and elsewhere in the overall scheme of things from the time it was in the hands of an elite few males, I have nothing but contempt for those who are so complacent.
And don't forget the large amount of "purged" voters and others turned away, fortunately less than of late.
What's your point anyway -are you just another reactionary sore loser?
At least it's legal this time and I hope that everybody from Rove to SCOTUS are puking up their sleeves.
+3 # MainStreetMentor 2012-11-08 05:09
I couldn't agree more, PapaBob!
+1 # Doubter 2012-11-08 16:49
Yeah yeah.
You don't seem to have digested the content of the article above.
I WAS ready to give up on Americans had Romney been elected without setting off a revolution.
+37 # sameasiteverwas 2012-11-07 23:55
We can start now, before the lame-duck session begins. Write to your GOP senators and congresspeople, urging them to break the gridlock and have the courage to vote for the good of the country -- for jobs bills, and farm bills, and bills for jobs and aid for veterans, and infrastructure, and education, and ANYTHING besides criminalizing abortion. Tell them that you agree with the 72% of Americans who believe the wealthy should pay a little more, and mention that we KNOW that gutting revenue-neutral Social Security won't help anything, no matter how much they say it will. Tell them that, based on the 2012 election results, bowing to the will of non-elected bullies like Rush and Grover Norquist is not the best career move; and that, if they willfully obstruct those bills that will move our country forward, you will take note and remember when they come up for re-election. Start now, and send a letter every month, citing their voting records and holding them accountable. I know it sounds like homework -- but this IS our home. It's a start.
+9 # WolfTotem 2012-11-08 00:01

4 years ago, both President and people failed to heed it. After that stirring investiture, "we the people" went home and resumed passivity, while the President seemed to forget the wave of "people power" on which he'd surfed to office, withdrawing into the exalted company of the ultimate "insiders".

Egged on by its paymasters, the Tea Party then became the main voice from the street.

Now Americans have woken up and the majority have made their wishes clear.

As Robert Reich mentioned only recently, in the election of 1936, a constituent approached FDR with a list of things she wanted him to do if reelected. “Ma’am,” he said, “I’d like to do all those things. But if I’m reelected, you must make me.”

Having said this, there's still a bull elephant in the living room: the popular vote split America almost down the middle. How to find new ways for Americans at last to talk to Americans across the divide? A divide all the more difficult to surmount in that it's tribal, cultural, above all geographical. Yet this is America. Not North and South Korea!

How to revive the citizens' associations that once brought Americans of different persuasions together, while restricting the divisive activities of the special interest lobbies, cuckoos that have taken over the nest?
+9 # SMoonz 2012-11-08 00:44
Tell the GOP and Democrat Senators and Congresspeople to stop NDAA 2013 or we will be one step closer to war with Iran.

Tell GOP and Democrat lawmakers that war in Syria is wrong.

Tell GOP and Democrat lawmakers that a Carbon tax is ridiculous.

Tell GOP and Democrat lawmakers that we need to reinstate Glass- Steagall.

Tell them we need to bring a NAWAPA project so we may see millions working again and making liveable wages.
+3 # Doubter 2012-11-08 16:59
Wish I could give you at least 10 pluses!
0 # Cassandra2012 2012-11-09 12:59
'Democrat' Senators? You mean Democratic Senators, don't you?; (or are you just one those deliberately offensive, semi-literate GOP types who twists and frames the language the way Rove instructs?) The same reason T-pugs get away with calling themselves 'conservatives' when they 'conserve' nothing and are really right wing RADICAL (as in tearing things up by their ROOTS) extremists and fanatics.
Otherwise, except for your unsubstantiated remark on a Carbon Tax, I agree.
0 # FDRva 2012-11-08 01:43
I am sad--but not surprised--that Pres. Obama has adopted Dick Cheney's Unitary Executive Doctrine of absolute presidential power.

I hope he does not start a nuclear world war with his Romney-like rhetoric against Iran, China & Russia.

Please, Mr. President do not urge China and Russia to 'democratize' so soon after being 'reelected' by the no-paper-trail Diebold Touch-Screen voting machines prevalent in 2012's 'battleground states.'

The USA's 2 party-- no, 2 potty 'evil of 2 lessers' political system--has got to go.

Unless you really want the world's other nuclear powers to think a lot about the 'reelection' of a mentally unstable Barry Obama.
+13 # grouchy 2012-11-08 01:53
Aw, I just feel so sorry for Rove! Such a sweet guy, and looking so upset here. Sadness indeed. Now I hope he retires to some dismal swamp in order to slowly be fed to the mosquitoes and let them get fat--at last, a true contribution from him!
+3 # Vern Radul 2012-11-08 03:15
You can stop all of this easily now.

Just "hold his feet to the fire", and "Lean on him. Hard", and "Make it clear to him that this is not acceptable".

Threaten to not vote for him when his term is up unless he straightens up, flies right, and actually produces.

No problem. All you have to do is start 4 years ago.
-1 # SMoonz 2012-11-08 12:11

It is funny how many times I saw those same quotes here on RSN for the last few weeks from pro- Obama supporters.

Some of the people who said such things criticized you, me and any other person critical of Obama. We were told that we worked for Romney, or did Rove's dirty work and basically were paid "shills." Now those same people are gone from the RSN forums and we are still here.

Makes you wonder who was really here pushing an agenda.
+4 # RMDC 2012-11-08 05:57
It would be nice to think that what Carl is saying were true. But it is not. America has never been a democracy and is likely never to be one. Obama simply ignored the union protests in Wisconsin two years ago and he ignored the OWS. The Teaparty appeared to be a grass roots mobilization but it was not. It was a creation of the very wealthy like the Kock brothers and that is why it had any effect.

I'm a very long standing anti-war activist. I've demonstrated, been arrested, done just about everything possible to influcent government policies. There's a huge number of americans who are against all of the imperialist wars. In hindsight, we all know the wars in SE Asia were totally criminal. The wars in Latin America were totally criminal. And anyone who thinks there is a shread of legitimacy to the Middle East and South Asian wars now just has to wait a little while to see how criminal they are.

But none of this has changed government policy one inch. Obama is as much an imperialist as Bush or Romney or Dick Cheney. Democratic tend to explain imperialism in terms of "humanitarian war" or the white man's burden to civilize the savages. Republicans tend to explain it as homeland defense. In the end, there's just a huge pile of people with dark skins dead, tortured, brutalized, and bombed out.

Americans are chumps. They have no control over their military-indust rial-banking-co mplex. Obama is only the PR guy for US imperialism.
+9 # kalpal 2012-11-08 06:18
The resident of the UNITED STATES of AMNESIA are mostly ignorant of their rights and obligations as citizens of this nation and that is exactly how the schools and boards of education like it.

They may pay lip service to civics education but is inevitably done poorly and only as an afterthought.

50 years ago I came to the USA and I was amazed at how little value was attached to schools and their potential impact in creating a vigorous public anxious to build onto past accomplishments .

Every school I attended and taught in exhibited an antipathy towards the needs of the students, except those school which were well funded. At most of the schools the high achieving students had to hide their abilities or be harrassed for actually knowing what the teacher was talking about.

One time I was asked to drop a class because I would have too much effect on the grade curve since I was known to get consistently high grades. This was at a university in the 1970s.
+2 # Nominae 2012-11-09 02:30
@ kalpal

In re: "spoiling the curve", I encountered the same hate from classmates that you must have felt, but I had a Science Teacher who solved the problem in his class.

This Science Instructor had me, and three other "curve spoilers" (superior students unwilling to "dumb down" for the sake of the curve).

So this teacher graded the four of us among ourselves, and the rest of the class on the almighty curve. That stopped the bitching from the "average" students who still wanted to be graded as being "above average", and allowed the gifted group to strive for the moon. It worked splendidly !
0 # independentmind 2012-11-12 21:46
That attitude was all over the world in the '70s not just in America. "We don't need no education" was the theme song.

My concern with the schools here in the US today is that they do not teach the children how to think. That is a problem critical thinking skills are essential if we want to stop the takeover of this society by the Corporations and their minions.
+3 # KittatinyHawk 2012-11-08 13:50
Slime always comes out when asked to do something .... good at badmouthing...b unch of Foxers.

I will do my duty and continue to petition, boycott, ask others to read and take part.

Rest of you can go back under your rocks, do nothing per usual and come back 2015. Campaign begins a new. Will keep your archived remarks as I am sure they will be the same mundane words.

Go with Rush, Fox, Nit you will not be missed. Your space could be converted for people who give a s--t!
+6 # Buddha 2012-11-08 15:54
This is part of the reason I stopped hating on Obama being too timid, adopting a corporatized Obamacare plan, etc. Where were we? We voted for him, then sat back and watched the Kardashians expecting him to do it all without us at his back. Were was the million-man march demanding Single-payer Medicare-for-Al l? We gotta step up and take to the streets people. Occupy was a step in the right direction, but by being against the system as a whole, it couldn't be used to push the Dems and the system as a whole to the Left.
+4 # Nominae 2012-11-09 02:49
@ Buddha

OWS is very clear in their stand against aligning with any party, or in attempting to work within a fully corrupt and totally "loaded" system.

Their goal is to totally reinvent and re-create all systems from the ground up with an eye toward exactly what kind of a society we wish to become.

That means starting with a totally new economic and banking system, social system, political system, and expanding from there. Since this will naturally take time, people are prematurely declaring their movement "dead".

However, Occupy Sandy, using their own systems of organization, totally "spanked" the much more "experienced" International Red Cross in terms of efficiency, common sense, and sheer numbers of people reached in New York in the wake of Sandy, by providing disaster relief to Hurricane victims.

OWS provided hot food (as opposed to FEMA MREs) and practical items such as diapers and baby wipes, to thousands of people, just as an example of common sense thinking.

OWS refuses to be used as a tool in a system that is already a rotting and dying dinosaur.

Their movement, as most people are aware, is now World Wide and growing. They are creating the obvious blueprint for the future. And they are not "disappearing" or diminishing in any sense of the word.

Much more than a "step in the right direction", OWS is *THE* movement into the future.

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