Every opportunity to draw public attention to the CFAR — who is on board and who is not, keeping a keen eye for press coverage — should be exploited to fullest advantage and potential for mass exposure.
This is the main thrust of the CFAR strategy! It’s not a piece of legalese to be stuffed in a file folder. It’s a PR device which should be front-and-center in a campaign. The Contract For American Renewal embodies a powerful message. The candidate who signs it has integrity, transparency, is willing to put his constituents first, intends to go to Washington DC to do the job the voters elected him or her to do.
Bear in mind that the candidate who signs the contract probably will be independent or minor-party, or running on the short end of the stick against a powerhouse incumbent. Thus he or she will not have much money. The only way to get around this obstacle is generating free publicity. Free publicity is obtained by creating news-worthy events.
We believe that if the candidate contracts are wielded properly — not as some polite legal document but as a weapon of mass media engagement — it will not be all that difficult to get them and the candidate who signs them all over the news. It’s just a matter of setting the stage and getting the lighting right.
Let’s offer a couple examples. These may at first seem a bit extreme, but as far as we’re concerned, in the service of real democracy and honest representation, there’s no such thing as ‘too outrageous’. Having said that, please understand that we’re not advocating dishonesty or mean-spiritedness. There’s a lot of room for creativity here, without embracing the dark side.
Example #1 . . .
We have an incumbent that won’t sign a contract protecting Social Security. We have an independent or minor party candidate who has signed it. So we line up ten or twenty very old people in wheel chairs and block traffic on a major street. They hold signs that say: “Why won’t Congressman [ name of incumbent ] sign the CFAR? I need my Social Security to survive!” The candidate who did sign it circulates among them holding up the signed contract in one hand, and a poster in the other that says: “I’m Michael Marvellous. These elderly people deserve our support. I SIGNED THE CFAR!”
Of course, the media was given advance notice for this staged event. Even if they send second stringers, they’ll still get it all on video.
Now what’s going to happen? Are the police going to pepper spray grandma? Well, thinking about it, they might. (Sorry about that, grandma.) But this is perfect! Imagine the headlines . . .
Sweet Old Lady in Wheelchair Pepper Sprayed at Protest
Over Incumbent’s Refusal to Support Social Security
How does the expression go? . . . You can’t buy publicity like that!
As if you hadn’t surmised, we are totally for street theater, massive protests, civil disobedience, getting arrested, whatever it takes barring violence to get the public to focus on important issues. What makes no sense to us is when such displays don’t produce the potential for concrete action. Recently was a very admirable effort to make the public aware of how thoroughly our democracy has been corrupted and destroyed by big money in politics. Sadly, Democracy Spring got very limited media exposure, though its agenda and intent are truly laudable. So far their biggest claim to notoriety seems to be how many people got arrested, a new Guinness Book world record! Other than that, it offers no actionable agenda, no specific legislation, no constitutional amendment, nothing voters can rally around and vote for, other than a vague demand that America needs a new Congress which will listen to the people.
Our example here draws attention to a specific choice: Vote for a scoundrel who, notwithstanding a lot of wonderful sounding campaign rhetoric, doesn’t give one whit about retirees caught in a web of poverty, or vote for a candidate who has signed a legal contract that guarantees he or she will fight to keep Social Security viable, solvent, and sufficient to meet the needs of the elderly who depend on it for a decent life in their golden years.
Voters are given something they can act on. Vote for a black hat or a white hat.
Let’s look at another example, even more dramatic than the last, of how the candidate contract can be used to draw in the media, always hungry for news that “bleeds”.
Example #2 . . .
Major party candidate “A” refuses to sign a contract to end all the wars in the Middle East. Candidate “B”, who has signed the contract, goes to a VA hospital with a talking head from the local television station. Several patients are wearing ‘Candidate B signed the contract!’ t-shirts. One of them holds up a sign . . .
If Congress had brought the troops
back home, I’d still have my legs.
The talking head interviews some of the maimed and crippled vets. Candidate B talks about how “supporting our troops” means not fighting wars we don’t have to fight, going on to explain how most Americans want the wars to end. He declares his unequivocal support for ending the wars in the Middle East and waves the contract as proof.
Is this manipulative, exploitative? It’s not as manipulative and exploitative as our leaders lying and leading the country into conflicts it doesn’t have to fight. It’s not as manipulative as saying one thing when campaigning just to curry favor with potential voters, then going to Washington DC and doing the bidding of lobbyists and fat-cat campaign donors. And it’s certainly not as exploitative as having our soldiers in the bloom of their youth give their lives for corporate profits or in pursuit of delusional fantasies of world empire.
Sometimes we have to fight fire with fire.
And always, we have to fight lies with the truth.
Maybe it makes you uncomfortable thinking about grandma getting pepper sprayed or looking at young men with stumps where healthy legs used to be and puckering sockets where they once had eyes. But personally it makes us here really uncomfortable thinking about grandma starving to death in her apartment or dying because she couldn’t afford some prescription medication, or seeing these these young men mangled in battles which never should have been fought in countries we never should have invaded, all while inside the DC bubble congressman are having $200 lunches with lobbyists from Wall Street and CEOs for the defense contractors.
The point is simple. If we want to change the way politicians get elected, we need to make choices stark, obvious. No ambiguities. No equivocation. No obfuscation. No excuses.
Getting the truth out to the voting public on exactly where the candidates stand requires audacity, creativity, courage, some outside-the-box thinking. But it can be done. It should be done. It must be done! Voters don’t need to see protest signs. They need to see honest and clear choices at the polls. The CFAR leaves no room for error or misinterpretation.
Working hard for real representative democracy by advocating for CFAR candidates is a truly profound and meaningful contribution to your country.