Published in the Seacoast Online, Jun 7, 2015
by Jeff McLean
What if I told you that there is a clear and simple way to transform the dysfunctional politics of Washington D.C.? And what if I told you there is an easy — and fun and productive — way to help make a difference this July 4th?
If you are anything like me, you are fed up with D.C. failing to act on important issues — or worse, passing bills that increase the size of government, handing out favors to donors and special interests, and bickering about partisan issues instead of solving the real problems that lay ahead. This is not a partisan problem and, despite what you might hear, neither party can claim the moral high ground on the issue of systemic corruption.
The main cause of the systemic corruption and dysfunction is the way candidates are forced to spend the majority of their time begging for campaign contributions.
Bribery is illegal, and yet this almost-but-not-quite bribery is completely legal. It is corruption: pure and simple corruption, and the result is the same: a broken Congress exhibiting a profound lack of progress on every issue. By corruption, we do not mean quid-pro-quo corruption. Instead, we are talking about a corruption of an entire system… one that every politician is trapped within and seems content within. It is skewing the priorities, warping incentives, and leading to dysfunction which re-enforces itself every time a member of Congress, or the President, is forced to choose between doing what is best for re-election instead of what is best for the public.
The “tragedy” is that most of us are resigned to things being this way. There is a prevailing belief that there is nothing we can do to change this system, however degrading it is to politicians, to voters, and to our country as a whole. And because we feel the system is hopeless, we give up. This is precisely what the two parties want us to do. The two-party structure and the massive industry that follows (lobbyists, pundits, talking heads, media, political “consultants,” and many others) are the only winners.
By now you may have heard of the New Hampshire Rebellion, but in case you are not familiar, here is our goal: We are going to make the issue of systemic corruption driven by the way campaigns are funded the number one, cannot-ignore-it, issue in the high-stakes 2016 New Hampshire Presidential Primary.
No matter what issue you think needs to be tackled in this country, it cannot be resolved without first solving corruption. The Left will not get environmental protection or real healthcare reform. The Right will not get a simpler tax system, reduced regulation, or a smaller, less intrusive government. And the majority of us in the pragmatic middle won’t see an end to the partisan and petty arguments of the two-party system. Whatever it is you want changed — whatever vision you have of a better America — corruption, in the way that Congress raises money, is standing directly in the way.
We do not own a cable news network or series of talk radio stations, we do not have armies of lawyers, lobbyists, and lackies to do our bidding. What we do have is YOU – the citizens who make up 96 percent of the public who agree that our current political system is corrupt and dysfunctional and must change.
Our next big push toward making the issue of corruption the deciding factor in who gets elected in 2016 is this July 4th, when we are going to walk two routes along the Seacoast. The more who walk with us, the clearer it becomes that this issue matters to NH voters. Those who can not do the walk can join the celebration at the end in Prescott Park.
We want you to join us. Two groups will leave in the morning from Hampton and Rochester, and meet up at Prescott Park in Portsmouth in the afternoon for a rally. You can sign up at walk.nhrebellion.org.
The candidates are visiting, and the 2016 NH presidential primary is right around the corner. Please join us and help show D.C., and those running for president, that in order to get your vote, they must first tell you their answer to this critical question: “What specific reforms will you advance to end the corrupting influence of money in politics?”
Our latest batch of lawn signs has arrived, but we're sure they won't last long. If you're in New Hampshire, e-mail email@example.com to request a sign for your lawn or porch or horse!
Last Thursday, we were able to have Marianne Williamson and Lawrence Lessig join us in Seattle to highlight our work. A video of the event can be found HERE.
This July 4th, we're upping the ante with two simultaneous '2016' themed walks – 20 miles from Rochester and 16 miles from Hampton – converging in downtown Portsmouth with a rousing call to make systemic corruption of money in politics the core issue of the New Hampshire Presidential Primary. You will not want to miss the finale event in Prescott Park, complete with barbecue, ice cream, and games!
In addition to July 4th, we are continuing to Walk the Talk on the streets and in our neighborhoods throughout the coming months to unite the vast majority of Granite Staters who care first and foremost about a government free of corruption.
Walk on – Ellen, Jeff, and the entire NH Rebellion team
P.S. There's still time to register for our Memorial Day weekend walk this Saturday from Lebanon to Hanover! And you can now set-up your own walk, no matter where you live, using our new Walk the Talk platform and toolkit!
We are only three days away from the exciting Upper Valley Walk for Democracy! The weather report says 67 degrees and sunny, so it'll be a great day to walk for democracy. Please do register to join us.
I also want to let you know about our sign-making party on Friday night from 5-7PM. We'll be in Collis Hall, Room 219, on Dartmouth's campus. It'll be a great opportunity to get to know some fellow walkers, and to make sure you're getting your message across in your own voice.
We wanted to let our supporters in the Seattle area know that Lawrence Lessig will be speaking in Seattle on Thursday, June 4th, at the Town Hall Seattle venue, alongside bestselling author Marianne Williamson.
If you can make it, you’ll be able to hear directly from both Lessig and Williamson at the event and afterwards at an informal reception.
Tickets are $15 for the movie and reception, and every dollar of those funds will be used to support the work of the New Hampshire Rebellion to reduce the corrupting influence of money in American politics. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $20. Please note, this event is expected to sell out so please be sure to purchase a ticket online in order to secure a seat.
Here is a direct link to the event on the Town Hall Seattle venue site, and here is the Facebook event.
This event will also feature the Seattle premiere of "Killswitch: The Battle to Control the Internet" which covers some of the current work of the New Hampshire Rebellion.
NHRebellion Supporter Conference Call with Beth Grunewald, Dan Weeks, Ellen Read, Jeff McLean, and Lawrence Lessig on May 15th, 2015
It seems like every day brings news of another presidential candidate setting up a Super PACs, raising millions of dollars, and then getting into the race. One leading contender plans to raise $2,500,000,000 – double the previous spending record – while another has decided to effectively outsource his entire campaign to keep on collecting unlimited contributions. Not a pretty picture.
In response, we have an announcement of our own. It may not involve as many zeros but we think it’s worth sharing just the same. For the past few months, our team has been hard at work on a pair of exciting innovations to help us multiply our walks and our candidate questioning during the presidential primary. Now, we're rolling them out to you below and in our first Telephone Town Hall with NHR founder Lawrence Lessig at 4pm!
Did you know that NH Rebellion supporters hail from 41 states? Or that supporters in more than half of states have either walked with us in New Hampshire or walked in solidarity from afar? Considering the breadth of our movement and the fact that our first two walks of 2015 garnered hundreds of press hits reaching millions of fellow citizens, imagine how much potential there is to grow the movement between now and Election Day 2016?
That’s where you and our new Walk the Talk Platform and Toolkit come in! The first thing you’ll notice is the slew of upcoming walks already planned in the Granite State over the next few months – including our epic 20+16 mile Independence Day walk on July 4th. We hope you’ll sign up right away and encourage your friends to the do the same!
But that’s not all: we want you to consider organizing a walk (or hike!) of your own this summer or fall, with support and materials from us. It can be as simple as gathering a few friends to make signs and walk with you in a July 4th parade, which we’ll advertise on the site. Whatever you have in mind, please drop us a line and we’ll be glad to help. We can’t build this movement without you.
2. Questionr.us - Ask the Question
Our brand-new Questionr tool makes it easy to locate presidential candidates, ask them the Question, and track their responses via video upload. By deploying volunteers to every candidate event and crowd-sourcing their solutions (or lack thereof) to systemic corruption, we will elevate the debate and help ensure the next president is committed to reform on day one. It’s grassroots organizing and publicity — with a helping hand from technology. Now all we need is you!
We'd love to hear your feedback, questions, and ideas as we road-test these new tools and work out any remaining kinks – please be in touch!
Last Saturday was Patriots’ Day, and the NH Rebellion celebrated in style - by walking the talk for democracy and asking the question at the biggest gathering of 2016 candidates yet. Nearly 100 people participated along the 15-mile route, and between the historical reenactments and the hamburgers, a good time was had by all.
A spirited group of walkers started the morning in Lowell, Massachussetts at the Pawtucket Congregational Church. Paul Revere, played by our own Ellen Read, led them north from under the church’s ringing Revere bell. We were all grateful for the hospitality of the Pawtucket congregation and their Reverend, Ruth Richards.
The walkers enjoyed sunny skies on their way to Nashua City Hall, where they were overjoyed by the crowd awaiting them. At first, King George III tried to steal the microphone and praise how thoroughly the American campaign finance system concentrates political power in the the hands of an oligarchic elite, but he was soon put in his place when Paul Revere came riding into the square to raise the cry "The fat-cats are coming!" and call on the assembled patriots to put an end to systemic corruption once and for all in 2016. Paul Revere was followed by 15 year-old walker Ella McGrail, whose stirring adaptation of Henry Longfellow’s poem inspired the assembled crowd to continue Revere's patriotic cause in our time. Jeff Clements, co-founder of Free Speech for People, also spoke about the growing national movement to stop the corrupting influence of money in politics after Citizens United.
When the group departed for the Crowne Plaza hotel, the walkers stretched for several blocks. Some carried signs, others carried flags. Many wore patriotic Paul Revere hats, and all lent their voices as we approached the presidential summit. Intrigued by the commotion, much of the local and national media attending the summit came out to hear us, and Paul Revere was able to deliver our anti-corruption message to a broad audience.
After all that hard work, the walkers deserved a celebration, and they had one just across the street from the presidential summit. We grilled burgers and hotdogs, enjoyed Ben & Jerry’s, and marvelled at the Stamp Stampede’s Amend-o-Matic Stanpmobile before packing up the flags and calling it a day. A huge thank you to all of the walkers and drivers who made this latest march for democracy a success! Check out pictures, video, and media coverage.
Get ready to march again on Memorial Day Weekend, July 4th, and beyond (details coming soon)!
One if by land and two if by sea,
And the die had been cast by the lamplight’s decree,
From the eye of the night in a cold belfry perch,
America burned from the peak of the church.
We were a line in an empire’s plan,
A pawn in the palm of Great Britain’s hand,
Yet in the most wretched and ragged of states,
We dealt England a blow and conquered our fates.
We were not impoverished, not wanting for bread,
Yet we would not settle to be sheltered and fed,
We demanded our freedom, where our spirit derives,
A dream for which thousands would lay down their lives.
And we’ve lived with that pride near three centuries in,
We showed to the world that the people could win,
We have fought to preserve through fire and brawl,
Liberty, freedom, and justice for all.
Yet here once again we have come under siege,
Though the enemy now does not lie overseas,
It is growing within us, a monster we’ve bred,
By greed and by excess it’s nurtured and fed.
The voice of the people and the power it’s owed,
Is being dismantled, dishonored, and sold,
And America’s choices, the people’s to make,
Now so grossly distorted for the wealthiest’s sake.
We look to our leaders in both of the wings,
And see nothing but puppets on the plutocrat’s strings,
The papers are lost, now made deaf to the truth,
And the high court’s decision has swept up the proof.
Bastardized now is the source of our pride,
The country split between two bitter sides,
It seems that to fight would be fruitless and yet,
The dream of this nation we must not forget.
Our most precious doctrine above any other,
Is that not one life is worth more than another,
Prestige and position don’t make one more whole,
And no wealth of no size can outweigh any soul.
They can muffle our cries but they are there still,
They can weaken our rights but they can’t touch our will,
No matter the odds, the length, or the strain,
We have conquered injustice and we’ll do it again.
We thank the brave others who fought to the last,
And remember the message that rings from the past,
The reason for fighting is stronger than fear,
For posterity’s sake and for those we hold dear.
This precious idea’s a perennial seed,
It’s only a matter of when it succeeds,
Under any condition it’s able to cope,
And the only defeat is giving up hope.
We must hold our faith and never lose sight,
That our cause is not easy but Lord is it right,
To keep us a country where freedom is sought,
And never a country where freedom is bought.
Liberty’s essence is our right to choose,
I pray we’ll not wait till we’ve nothing to lose,
For the sake of the future and the name of what’s been,
Nation, I ask you, to ride once again.
(written by Ella F.W. McGrail / April 2015 )