Citizens for Legitimate Government, a multi-partisan activist group established to expose the Bush Coup d'Etat and oppose the Bush occupation in all of its manifestations.

The Ballot, The Bullet, and the Grand Refusal

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by Michael Rectenwald, CLG Founder and Chair

"Counterterrorism officials" are talking of "postponing" the upcoming elections. Postponing the November elections, they say, might be necessary if there is a terrorist attack at election time. The option is being denied by Rice and other Bush administration officials, but Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge warned last week that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network may attack within the USA to try to disrupt the elections.

Regardless, Homeland Security, and DeForest B. Soaries Jr., chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, have already disrupted the elections. Soaries, who was hired to help localities improve their voting systems, may be doing more to drive voters from the polls. Low voter turnout happens to be the formula for a Republican "victory." And, such terrorism warnings make us think more about terrorism than regime change. But let the adminstration take heed: we fear nothing more than this regime itself!

And we are really afraid that the potential loss by Bush may occasion an attack. We are not saying how the attack and the polls might be connected; we are not pointing fingers. But, as Republican strategists debate the possibility like something they themselves are considering for their party's success, we cannot help but wonder: just who, if anyone, is considering/planning/promoting this 'attack?'

Regardless, a postponed election, or the playing the fear factor for low voter turnout, are acts of terrorism in themselves. We are already being attacked. This warning is yet another in a series of attacks on our rights, on our democratic system, on our freedom, and on our self-determination.

A postponed election, or what is far more likely, one conducted under the surveillance of military and police posted at polling places and along routes to polling places, will amount to intimidation and the abrogation of voting rights, at the very least, and the complete loss of any semblance of democracy, at the worst.

Our Response?

In 1964, Malcolm X posed the question to the government: 'The Ballot or the Bullet."' Without representation, Malcolm roared, rather than "I have a dream," the racist, antidemocratic government might expect to hear instead, "I have a rifle!" Today, we might make the same clarion call to arms.

Yet, while purely passive resistance will be utterly ineffectual, the condition of red or orange 'alert' will allow resistance to be classified as 'terrorism,' with militants facing imprisonment without charges, or worse. Today, perhaps like yesterday, the call to arms would be sheer suicide.

Under such circumstances, should officials attempt to cancel or inject fear into the elections, the only possible solution is the Grand Refusal. The Grand Refusal was Herbert Marcuse's term for the complete rejection of the techno-military government and the whole gambit of repressive state and ideological apparatuses. Unlike other Frankfurt School theorists, Marcuse had a pragmatic side, and suggested, under inspiration from the sixties revolts, the notion of a complete refusal of the system.

The refusal would begin on the planned election day, and last for as long as necessary. On election day, this would mean showing up at polling places ready to vote, and demanding access to the ballot. It would be demanding the vote with our feet, until the vote with the ballot is granted. It would mean, for many voters, intimidation, but a refusal to succumb to fear.

Thus, the Grand Refusal will be first and foremost a refusal of the election postponement or curtailment, and a demand to vote. This will be a decentralized refusal and demonstration by hundreds of millions of registered voters: Democrats, Greens, Independents, and Republicans alike. All are asked to refuse the fear tactics, and all are welcomed in the refusal. The election is not a partisan issue. It's the democratic process itself. Thus, all true patriots must thus take part in the voter turnout demonstration, and continue to refuse until the election is undertaken. This process will be a massive refusal, but also, it will be a great lesson in democracy and freedom.

The refusal will mean more than this if voters turn out for an election that does not take place. The Grand Refusal would then mean, among other things: massive walkouts, demonstrations, the refusal to participate in the system at large. It would mean the continual voting with our feet by refusing to participate in a politico-economic system that does not deem us worthy of representation, regardless of its appeals to our so-called 'safety.' The only way to affect the system will be a continuing refusal to work, to be 'entertained,' and to consume at 'normal' levels. We would live by our wits, have courage, and shut the system down that refuses us. In any case, the claims to protect us will be proven false by their police brutality against us, when we refuse to acknowledge a danger that has no known source, other than the government.

To you who listen to the fearmongers, and prefer your work and your "safety" to your freedom and democracy, I give you the words of Samuel Adams, who wrote in 1776:

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

But in any case, the claims to protect us will be betrayed by their brutality against us, and the wealth is all theirs in the end. We refuse to hear them and heed the call to abjure our rights. All who have courage will stand up, walk out, and refuse to listen to them, refuse their media, refuse their consolation prizes, refuse their guilt, refuse their lies, refuse their tyranny, and refuse their fake government!

So which will it be, oh "Homeland Security," police, election commissioner, Bush, Cheney, media mouthpieces, liars, one and all? Will it be the ballot, or the Grand Refusal (and the bullet)? All the bullets will be your own, not ours, although we paid for them. You may shoot us with the dollars you robbed from us, just as you have the Iraqis. You may kill us with our lost wages and services. But we will not be betrayed by a government supposedly intent on "protecting" us, and your slaughter of us will prove you to be complete liars. But even this lie we refuse.

The Ballot, The Bullet, and the Grand Refusal,
Part 2: "The Revolution Will Be Webcast!"

Michael Rectenwald
July 13, 2004

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