Thursday, May 30, 2013
This week one of the country’s foremost advocates for election and campaign finance reform, Christina Tobin, came to Eureka Springs to meet with supporters of the group she chairs, Free & Equal Elections (www.freeandequal.org), and provide advice and encouragement to STO in its battle to prevent SWEPCO from stringing high voltage transmission lines across scenic and environmentally sensitive areas of Northwest Arkansas.
Tobin has brought together such diverse factions as the Occupy movement and the Tea Party under one big umbrella of a camp that feels current election policies leave politicians for sale to the highest bidder.
“Republicans and Democrats feel disenfranchised from their own parties, and are now shifting and becoming more Independents,” Tobin said. “The two-party system is tied to Wall Street and the Federal Reserve, a private institution used as a tool by a few powerful elite individuals to control our government. This applies to SWEPCO in that these elites control electric companies which give large amounts of money to politicians.”
STO efforts attracted the attention of Tobin, who is in Arkansas to plan and promote a United We Stand (UWS) Festival at the Verizon Arena in Little Rock on Saturday, June 22. The festival will feature musicians and speakers such as Jesse Ventura, Jill Stein and former New Mexico Gov. and Libertarian Party presidential candidate, Gary Johnson.
Through the power of music, these musicians and speakers will appeal to young voters to wake up and demand a peaceful, powerful, positive solution-based movement, Tobin said.
“Free & Equal is here to unite and build honest media, organizations, leaders, musicians, authors, comedians and more across the spectrum to reform the electoral system,” she said. “Speakers are ready to be heard about key issues concerning government such as The Patriot Act, National Defense Authorization Act, the war on drugs, drones, foreign policies, genetically modified organisms and more. The event will be recorded and broadcast globally.”
The UWS Festival will be the kick off for similar concerts planned in a 10-stop University Bus Tour in the U.S. in 2014.
In 2008 and 2010, Tobin led Free & Equal to organize debates for presidential, vice-presidential, gubernatorial and senatorial candidates. She went on to co-moderate, with Larry King, the 2012 presidential debate for four third-party candidates. Previously, she worked coordinating petition drives that gathered more than one million signatures for the Green Party, Constitution Party, Republican Party, Democratic Party, Libertarian Party, Socialist Equality Party and independents.
“All these groups are looking for a solution,” Tobin said. “We do need campaign finance reform, but as long as the Federal Reserve has unlimited money to allow wealthy interests to purchase elections, it won’t help. One of our top priorities is to end the Federal Reserve, which is a private organization that currently controls the monetary policy of the U.S. to benefit a few, very wealthy individuals.”
Some pundits have challenged the impact of third party candidates, saying it can have the effect of siphoning off votes from leading candidates. An example would be Ralph Nader’s Green Party candidacy being credited with helping George Bush win re-election, although voter fraud in Florida may have played a bigger role. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson was suspected of taking votes that otherwise would have gone to Mitt Romney.
Tobin, who worked as Ralph Nader’s national ballot access coordinator helping collect more than 500,000 signatures to put Nader on the ballot in the District of Columbia ballot and 45 state presidential ballots, favors changing that dynamic so there are open elections instead of supporting the present two-party system that leaves third party candidates out in the cold. Tobin said political parties don’t work, and she sees individuals rising and replacing the party system shifting back to the origins of the U.S. Constitution – which doesn’t mention political parties.
“It costs millions for Ralph Nader just to get on the ballot, and that isn’t right,” Tobin said. “The USW Festival will be the kick-off event for igniting the grassroots movement to break the stranglehold of the two-party duopoly and reform the electoral process throughout the U.S. once and for all. This event will be featuring the music excitement needed to create a truly successful movement of the voter youth. The UWS Festival is the beginning of the solution to the political status quo problem.”
Tobin said the organization intends to create a National Open Elections Database to provide greater transparency about a candidate’s record, voting history and campaign donations. The intent is to provide support for young candidates who want to bring government back under the control of the people. She envisions these youthful legislators leading the charge to remove ballot access barriers, end the Federal Reserve and institute real campaign finance reform.
Tobin said the current SWEPCO proposal that has so many people up in arms over the taking of their private lands is a typical case of a wealthy corporation running roughshod over the will of the people. She has advice for local residents upset with SWEPCO’s plans to bulldoze a path through Northwest Arkansas.
“Don’t be discouraged,” Tobin said. “The system wants us to be discouraged. They want us to give up, but giving up is not an option. We will take our government back. The whole world is watching to see what the U.S. does.”
The UWS rally is being produced by Marci Foregrave, who is accompanying Tobin on her travels in Arkansas and elsewhere in the county to promote Free & Equal. In addition to the issues already mentioned, Foregrave said a major focus is towards honest media. One major problem, she said, is that most of the media in the U.S. is not telling the truth about major issues facing the country.
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