Madison County Opinion...

October 3, 2001


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
October 3, 2001

Frankly Speaking

Let's return power to the people
Over the past several weeks I have described the way Georgia's ruling politicians have taken away our right to control state government. Even in the face of national calls for political unity, King Roy and his vassals have continued to design a political system designed to expand their political power. Their actions totally disregard the rights of Georgia's citizens for self-government.
We the people have two choices. We can do nothing and allow King Roy to rule without opposition, or we can stage a new revolution. I have a plan that would, if enough of our citizens are willing to take part, force the state's ruling oligarchy to return political power to the people.
Any time you face an enemy, the best way to defeat him is to use his own weapons against him. Here in Georgia, the weapon those in power use to keep their power is ballot restrictions. They make it impossible for anyone not part of the political system to get on the ballot. They do this by requiring any third party or independent candidate to obtain nearly impossibly high numbers of petition signatures. Once petitions are collected, election officials must verify that a sufficient number of the signatures are by eligible voters. For state legislative races, this work is performed by the Georgia Secretary of State's office.
What would happen if hundreds of candidates were to flood the state with petitions at the same time? With each candidate required to collect thousands of signatures, the state's election machinery would be swamped.
The office would be forced to hire large numbers of untrained workers to check the signatures. Those who are refused ballot access would have grounds for numerous legal actions against the office.
This effort need not be centrally organized, although coorperation among the minor parties would help. For example, each voter has the right to sign as many petitions as they wish. Signing a petition is not a vote for the candidate. It simply indicates that the voter agrees that the candidate has a right to be on the ballot. Several minor party and independent candidates could join together for a petition drive urging citizens to sign each of their petitions.
Petition collectors need not be concerned if the signers are registered voters. If the petitions contain ineligible signatures, that increases the workload for the Secretary of State's office. The idea is to qualify as many candidates as possible, but even those who fail to qualify will have contributed to the cause by swamping the system.
By turning their weapon against them, we can force King Roy and the legislature to abandon their current abusive election system and return power to the people.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His email address is frankg@mcga.net.

 

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Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
October 3, 2001

From the Editor's Desk

The ant versus the ant hill
While we pride ourselves on our self-sufficiency and insist that government stay off our backs, we recognize that we are helpless alone versus global threats.
We look to our leaders and feel proud when they show strength as they have in recent weeks. This brings a measure of comfort and safety.
But our leaders warn that we should be prepared for a long battle. It will come in overt forms, such as the attacks we saw.
There is a more subtle conflict at work too, which we will ultimately fight in our own minds.
The Islamic fundamentalists make it clear they want to destroy the West, not only by killing people, but by eliminating Western ideals.
They want an East versus West war of the world.
It makes sense then to look at a traditional difference in Eastern and Western thought, the role of the individual.
Many Eastern societies have shown little regard for the individual. For example, look at Soviet communism. We heard of "defectors." Those who left Russia, those went against the state. The individual was not to make such choices, was not to turn his back on the larger social order.
Look at the Indian caste system. Under this social structure, a person born as a toilet washer is accorded that position because of his behavior in a past life. To seek advancement from this position goes against a pre-determined destiny.
Other Eastern cultures have shared this value system, not necessarily in a religious sense, but in the idea that the ant matters most as a member of the ant hill, that the individual should be a cog in a well-functioning machine, the larger social order.
In this system the individual shows nobility in resigning himself to a higher cause which is determined for him.
The West, and America in particular, say the individual truly matters. Our forefathers established a Bill of Rights to ensure the protection of individuals. We've welcomed millions from abroad who want a better life. America is truly beautiful in this way. We have higher purposes, but we have unprecedented freedom to choose them.
Still, the view of many in the world is that this freedom of ours has created a self-righteous, rich and indifferent culture, one concerned only with our well being. Sure, there's some truth in this. Many do seem this way. But to judge us as such is surely unfair.
And those who hate us resent our financial prowess, which extends to most of the globe. They hate that we push for basic rights for individuals, perhaps feeling that we are immoral and unworthy of setting a moral mandate.
Of course, the fundamentalists are quite blind to their own hypocrisy, their own moral black hole.
If the goal of extremists is to wipe out the West, then they will surely try to destroy our basic ideals - the importance of the individual, the right to privacy, the right to pursue happiness as you please.
There's anti-terrorism legislation now being considered. It may be necessary in light of what happened. But don't dismiss those who voice concern about possible civil liberties infringements as mere whiners and worrywarts.
We should make no mistake. Any changes which lessen individual rights will be a victory for our enemies. It's their aim. Their tool is fear and it's a powerful force. They know a fearful culture is malleable.
Ultimately, our victory will come not only in defeating terrorists, but in standing strong by our American principles even as we feel afraid.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.

 


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