AUDIO FILE: Gaining Political Power in Oregon
Harry Lonsdale, speaking before a meeting of Money Is Not Democracy, a group seeking signatures for the Campaign Finance Reform Initiative, Ballot Measure 53.
Harry Lonsdale, speaking before a meeting of Money Is Not Democracy, a group seeking signatures for the Campaign Finance Reform Initiative, Ballot Measure 53.|
Lonsdale, among others, has been working on this issue for years now, having passsed one in 1994, which was subsequently struck down by the courts. Another campaign gathered signatures in 2002, but failed to gather enoguh LEGAL signatures to have it put upon the ballot. For every invalid signature, 400 signatures were deleted from the total, leaving them just short of the required number of signatures.
Lonsdale, who, in 1992 ran as a Democrat for the Senate from Oregon three times unsuccessfully, began by stating, "I am angy, almost beyond words at George Bush and his administration for this immoral war, for which there seems to be no evidence..........I'm angry at my fellow Democrats for not calling him on it and not standing up to him. Four out of the five leading presidental candidates are for the war....but most of all I'm angry at the press, I'm angry at the media for not calling this guy for this immoral war."
What can we do, he asks? "We can use the initiative process as a way of fighting back.....I think it's a potential way at least to gain political power in Oregon." He believes that it is possible to use Measure 53 as a launching pad for further initiatives to gain political power. He cites the example of Bill Sizemore who, using other people's money, passed several Initiatives, and even gained a high enough profile to mount a formidable campaign for governor.
While admitting that this is a dream, and that it will take a number of years to realize, Lonsdale is confident that this is possible. He says that all we need are a couple hundred people, dedicated people, who can get out and gather the signatures. "Oregon was the second state to have the initiative and the first to use it, just about 100 years ago right now." He then uses the struggle for women to get the right to vote as an example of how perseverant we must be, and quotes statistics extensively from a book by Gail Collins, America's Women
The drive for women's sufferage went on for at least 100 years, full of failures, set backs and hostility. During the 52 years of pauseless campaigns, "they were forced to conduct 56 campaigns of referenda to male voters, 480 campaigns to get legislatures to submit suffrage amendments to voters, 47 campaigns to get state constitutional conventions to write women's suffrage in the state constitutions, 277 to get state party conventions to include women's suffrage planks, 30 campaigns to get presidential party campaigns to include women's suffrage in party platforms, and 19 campaigns with 19 successive congresses."
Here in Oregon the struggle for women's suffrage went on from 1906 through 1912, when women were finally successful in getting the right to vote. Eventually, the federal government followed the lead of the various states, with the 19th amendment to the Constitution in 1920. And, both the 40 hour work week and the 8 hour work day were first passed in the states before being made the law of the entire country.
"Only six states have no limits on campaign contributions. Oregon is one of those six. Pathetic. This so called clean government state can't even get big money out of politics. We will do it!"
Nothing great comes easy; yet all things, great and small, are the sum of many smaller components. Perhaps one of the underlying reasons for the apathy of the American people is the enormity of the task ahead, the magnitude of what it takes to struggle against the power of big money and the force of insider momentum. But, that is the power of Democracy, the power of the people, now scattered into thousands of scattered slow streams and meandering rivers, lost on their way to the sea. So many of us want to do something. Perhaps Lonsdale is pointing the way to the ocean, a way we can attend to the dreams we have of a better world, where money doesn't rule the roost and every one can have a voice, a voice that counts for something besides it's purchasing power.
We can each do something, and this is something we can do. It's no secret that as long as money controls the elections it controls the people. Each signature gathered is another drop of water in the wave that will reinstate the people as the rightful navigator of the ship of state. Those brave souls who fought so hard and for so long to gain women's suffrage are the perfect model for this struggle. They fought and uphill batle against an entrenched establishment. No different than the present situation.
This audio file is about 22 minutes in length.
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