By Jeffrey M. Freeman
In her first political commentary, The End of America: Letters to a Young Patriot, (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2007) Naomi Wolf described ten steps to creating a fascist state. She then cited example after example from the George W. Bush administrations supporting her argument that the United States has moved, hopefully not irreversibly, towards fascism. She built her case by examining only public sources, without access to classified material. Before writing her book, like any prudent author in this age of the Patriot Act, she asked experts to comb her own records for anything that could be used by the state to discredit her, or worse. While her pronouncements were dire, her attitude was optimistic. She called upon all citizens of this noble country to “stand our ground and fight for our nation, and take up the banner our Founders asked us to carry.” A documentary DVD of The End of America was recently released.
In her latest book, Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries, (Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2008) Ms. Wolf asks and answers how can an individual or small group affect the political process in America. The answer she arrives at is that it is not easy or simple, that many walls have been erected to deter unsettling the status quo. She argues, however, that the Declaration of Independence requires all citizens to continually rebel against any government that seeks to infringe on “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
She contends that rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution, specifically freedom of speech and freedom to peacefully assemble, have been eroded by local laws and regulations. She cites as one example the case of two groups of demonstrators trying to protest at the Chinese consulate in New York City. One group was advocating for Korean refugees, the other for a free Tibet. The groups were forced to share a permit, limited to four hours during which they had to equally share a bullhorn, were separated from each other, and cordoned off by steel barriers and police far from the consulate. In essence, bureaucracy diluted their protests to the point of insignificance.
As a neophyte to the Independent political movement, I found “Part III: America: The User’s Guide,” particularly interesting. It contains practical guidelines for pulling American politics back into the hands of average citizens. Using actual experiences, she details processes for eliciting change. Some of those guidelines address:
· how to successfully petition local, state, and federal governments
· how to write a press release
· how to drive a boycott
· how to stage a protest, and what to do and not do if you are arrested
· how to start your own political movement
· how to fund raise.
Ms. Wolf’s most radical suggestion is that we amend the Constitution to permit referendums on a national level, just as is done in many communities, states, and other nations. As she points out, democracies are a messy business because everyone is supposed to be able to voice his or her own opinions, not just echo the refrains of one political party or another. She asserts that amending our prime law to allow referendums would give power to the people nearly equal to that of the lobbyists and campaign donors.
She concludes the book with a twelve-step proposal to save our democracy and an eleven-item wish list of additional proposed changes.
Readers should find Give Me Liberty, an interesting intellectual discourse as well as a practical handbook for influencing our democracy.
Jeff Freeman is a retired Army colonel, registered Independent, and regular contributor to "The Hankster."