Tactics & Strategies: The PEN approach

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NOTE: The PEN is an acronym for The People’s Email Network, a resource founded in 2004 with the mission of making [the] sending [of] policy advocacy messages as easy as possible. With this goal in mind The PEN pioneered one click action pages in the political realm, now imitated by virtually all other action sites on the internet.

The premise behind the resource has always been twofold. If people are speaking out to their members of Congress in sufficient numbers one of two things MUST happen. 1) Either our representatives will heed the voices of their constituents and we will have the policy change we want, or 2) People will personally experience being ignored by their members of Congress, and then we have a base of people motivated to seek their replacement.

We publish this message in the spirit of stimulating debate on the tactical and strategic options confronting the masses.  This publication does NOT signify an unqualified endorsement by The Greanville Post of this organization’s approaches and methods.

Dear Friends and Activists:

When President Obama was challenged a couple months ago about various disappointments, he said it was not about him, it was about us. That is to say, WE were to blame for not pushing him harder. We agree.

As one prominent example, because we did not stand strong enough demanding real health care reform in the form of single payer, we ended up with a bad bill that was a part of the mood of disappointment. And candidate Romney had the gall to solicit that disappointment as a reason to vote for him instead, as if he would not have changed things for the worse.

So unless we get cracking right now, and advocate for policy change in voices that WILL NOT be ignored, in another two years we will again be faced with a choice between candidates hard to defend and even greater evils.

With all that in mind, we take note of something President Obama had to say last night in his victory speech.

“The role of citizens in our Democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government.”

Isn’t that what we’ve been saying all along, that is is not enough to vote for someone and then HOPE they bring about the progressive change we want? We must force their hands every day of our lives.

And here is the three part plan we propose from this point on:

1) Citizen Ballot Initiative Movements

The brightest spot of last night’s election was some very good law was made by citizen initiative across the country. Two states
legalized gay marriage, three legalized marijuana, etc. This is the best form of “self-government” (to quote President Obama). We need to get to work right now preparing ballot initiatives for the next election cycle, educating voters, recruiting support, for single payer, public financing of elections, you name it, whatever we really want.

We don’t have to wait for some politician to do us a big favor and actually do their job representing the interests of the people. We can go to the people (ourselves) directly and make it law in many states. And the added benefit is such measures will bring people to the polls who will also support the candidates we’d really like better in any case.

Please email us if you would like to participate in such actions and let’s get it together.

2) Citizen Drafted Legislation Seeking Sponsorship

The right wing has long had ALEC, a coordinating group dedicated to writing bills expressly drafted to favor their corporate special interests and pushing them on legislatures. We should be doing the same with our greater numbers. Let us write the bills WE want, and demand that our legislators sponsor them.

If they refuse to sponsor, let us publish that and recruit other candidates who will. And if we start that process immediately, and current legislators will not act, we can STILL put those same bills up as citizen ballot initiatives state by state, and have a head start on educating our fellow citizens that way.

Please email us if you would like to participate in these actions, especially if you have experience drafting law at the legislative

3) Enlightening Media Policy Action Projects

We need to find other creative ways to educate and advocate for policy change.

That is why we put so much energy into producing a full length feature dramatic film, “The Last War Crime,” about the lies that took to war in Iraq, false intelligence which could only be obtained by torture. And we will put in real theaters near you just as soon as enough of you are ready to get real about it. And that means we need tens of thousands of you (speaking nationwide) to request tickets, and we are still not there yet. Please check out the new closing argument clip at


If this video sample does not touch something inside you there is nothing more we can do for you.

In the meantime we are fighting back hard against the repressive forces trying to stop the word from getting out about this movie. Monday our lawsuit for political speech discrimination against right wing radio station WMAL was filed in federal district court in Washington, DC. This is a very serious action raising constitutional questions of probable first impression. Check out this link to hear the ad they rejected, and you can also read a draft of the complaint from a link on the same page.


We are especially interested in hearing from qualified parties NOW who would like to submit amicus briefs in this case. This has a chance to make real precedent in a great test case.

And we want you to know, we can’t wait to get back into production for our next movie planned, to be called “Citizens United”, in which we will confront the issue of corporate personhood. But first, we need to get this first one out there.

So those are our proposals for how to proceed going forward. Please join in now in every possible way, and we will not have to bite our nails again so hard two or four years hence. Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed
to be ours, and forward this alert as widely as possible. Contributions to The People’s Email Network are not tax-deductible
for federal income tax purposes.

If you would like to get alerts like these, you can do so at http://www.peaceteam.net/in.htm

Or if you want to cease receiving our messages, just use the function at http://www.usalone.net/out.htm


EDITOR’S NOTE: THE PEN is a liberal outfit and therefore it operates within liberal frameworks. Some of its suggestions may be good, some a complete waste of time.  We reproduce the above as a contribution to a wider debate on tactics and strategies for those who see themselves as “progressive.” The PEN privileges electoralism, which is just one of the options open to the masses to recuperate some of their usurped power. Our position is that electoralism should be used only in conjunction with other tactics, especially those of direct action. Voting within capitalist elections and doing nothing else politically is the road to oblivion and irrelevancy as citizens. By voting without putting REAL pressure on those who sit in Congress and the White House we only legitimate the rigged game of the plutocracy, which requires “citizen participation” to convince everyone that they rule in the name of the majority. —PG


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