Address to the Democratic Party

I went to a Democratic party fund-raiser last night, the TRUE BLUE AMERICAN RALLY. I stood by the door most of the night and handed out fliers about tomorrow’s meeting to reclaim the media. I knew all of the politicians who spoke, I knew the evening’s organizers, somehow it didn’t occur to me until that evening to ask to make an announcement for the Monday meeting. Here are my notes:

Hello, my name is Eric Verlo. You may recognize me from my involvement with Camp Casey, the persistent little peace camp on North Nevada Avenue. Hello.

This organisation was gracious enough to let me come up here and talk to you tonight. I’m speaking on behalf of another organization, the Pikes Peak Media Alliance. We’re a little group, started three years ago, which has been trying to raise awareness about media literacy. A number of my fellow members are here tonight. We recognize that the media landscape is, and has been, slanted against the little guy, the average American actually, and we’ve undertaken the challenge to change that imbalance.

I’m here tonight to tell you of our latest effort, I’ll try to be brief. We’ve been fighting to try to bring more of a community voice to the local public radio station, you love it, we love it, our own KRCC. The effort is going to culminate -thus far- into a town-hall public forum which we’ve scheduled for Monday night at All Souls Unitarian Church. We’re hoping to see as big a turn-out as possible of course. This will be a chance for Joe and Jane Public to express something of the direction they hope to see from KRCC, to express it directly to its regents, its owners, Colorado College.

This effort to seek community input into KRCC programming arose from a more specific attempt to lobby KRCC to air the news program Democracy Now. If you haven’t heard of it, ask the person beside you, it’s an award winning news program whose popularity is growing station by station all over this country, it’s on 400 radio stations nation wide, including more than a dozen communities in Colorado, all the big ones, except Colorado Springs and Pueblo, because it’s not on KRCC.

You may have heard of our efforts. For three years we’ve been trying to petition Colorado College to overrule KRCC’s decision not to carry Democracy Now. For years before that, individuals had been calling KRCC to request it, only to be turned down flat. That went on so long, we decided we had to go over the station manager’s head.

You may have signed one of our petitions. Did you hear anything back? No one did. Well a friend of mine submitted his letter directly. He did receive an answer to his request for Democracy Now: a hand written note saying “Thank you for your thoughts on democracy.”

We tried it several times and this year we made a concerted effort and gathered over 250 petition letters, individual letters signed and personalized by members of our community. A number of times people told us, “I signed one of those a couple years ago. What, they still haven’t given us Democracy Now?” That statement reflects not just their incredulousness, but it reflects a disconnect about what’s happening on KRCC. A lot of the community -on our side of the issues- is no longer listening to KRCC.

This year we delivered those 250 petition letters, along with another 200 Colorado College student signatures to Colorado College on our knees. On our knees! Yes it was a dumb idea, we got the idea because we were starting from Camp Casey and it was only a short distance to the college president’s office. Well on your knees that distance becomes quite a bit more than a little! We did it for the publicity of course, but ideologically we did it to represent the desperate urgency we felt for the people of the world who are not represented by or in the media, the suffering majority whose voices go unheard, whose plight goes unabated in large part because the media ignores their fate, a media who is on the side of their oppressors, who is owned after all by their oppressors.

And so we made this impassioned public plea, Dave was there with me on his bare knees, Gary was there, we handed over our petitions, and heard nothing. Not a thing. No one who signed any of those letter received a reply. We heard through the grapevine that Colorado College was basically standing in support of the KRCC station manager’s decision. Only just a week ago or so, we all saw in the Independent, the article about KRCC and some confusion about its funding, where on the issue of Democracy Now, the college declared that it considered the request to have come from only a “small faction.”

So the meeting tomorrow night, excuse me, Monday night is going to be the showdown between the community represented by its small faction, and Colorado College. We’ve dropped the explicit request for Democracy Now in hope that the meeting will represent more voices from the community about what its concerns may be about KRCC. The issue isn’t so much about Democracy Now, it’s about how does a community express itself to one of its representatives, in this case a station manager who insists that Colorado Springs is populated by nothing but conservatives and easily-offended Luddites.

One of the ideas which could come up at Monday’s meeting will be the popular local news show Western Skies. Some thought by the recent funding disinformation circulated by KRCC, that Western Skies is on the chopping block. Nothing could be further from the truth, as attested by Colorado College president Dick Celeste’s letters to both the Gazette and the Independent. Western Skies puts together a half-hour news show twice a week. It’s very popular. Let’s hear how many of you like Western Skies! Well why not have that show on every day? Can you imagine the kind of coverage we could get for local happenings, local non-profit efforts, partisan efforts, even locally owned businesses, if we had local news on a daily basis? Let’s hear how many of you would favor that idea!

Okay, so I’m here tonight to ask you to bring that voice to the meeting on Monday. Colorado College is looking to see how serious we are about speaking as a community. We’ve got to show them on Monday night.

Let me just say that I believe that the political battle begins with the media. We’ve got to reclaim the media if we are to achieve even a portion of our political goals this year, or ever. And by political goals, I’m talking about saving our country of course, about an agenda to tackle social inequality, to provide a safety net, to save our civil rights, to rescue really is what I mean, to rescue our right to elect a government which represents us. All those things. We are not going to win on those issues if we cannot take our case to the American people. It doesn’t matter how much money we raise to pay the media to carry our message, if the media wants to spin our message in the favor of its owners, of the upper business corporate class, there’s nothing of our message that is going to get through to the people.

A friend of mine was telling me tonight, she’s not very political. She doesn’t see much point to political parties. They’re divisive she says. She would prefer that politicians would brush aside political affiliations and sit down together to work out solutions for the American people.

Now you being fairly active, or activated, political Democrats probably see the naivety of her argument. Let me explain why I think she’s being idealistic and I’d like to see if you agree with me.

If politicians were civil servants indeed sitting down to work out solutions, that would be one thing. But we know that’s not the case. With the division of Republicans and Democrats are two groups sitting down, one of whom has their hands at the levers, making the trouble, and the other side, our side, is trying to undo it. Am I right on this point? The Republican, let’s call them the corporate cheap-labor, landowner party is trying to get away with whatever it can, and the Democratic party is left to try to to fight for the diminishing power of the rest of the world’s population. Is that right? Do I have that right?

Now accusations can be made that a number of the Democrats are fighting on the side of the landowners. And frankly I believe it. I know just enough about how politics does not work, to ask the silly question, can’t we get rid of those Democrats? Can’t we just expel them? Let ’em be Republicans if they want to so badly. We don’t need to be putting our grassroots efforts into backing their turncoat behavior. Anyway, that’s my opinion. I feel that way about torture, about the war, about health care, about the environment, about civil rights, about judicial review and the balance of power keeping the executive branch from acting like a dictatorship.

Now I will assert that we need a media which will reflect this battle for what it is. If we want to preserve this democracy, we have to have a democracy. We have to reach the American public, and we need to reach them with a level, balanced message.

I’ve spoken passionately, but you know that I haven’t spoken out of line, I haven’t exaggerated the situation, have I? Have I? I believe I’ve represented an objective concern for where this country is going. We need a media which will do that.

We have to reclaim this media, and we can start with the only place we have even a toehold and that’s public radio. Please come on Monday night to speak out for the reform we need. The airwaves belong to us. They’re like the public libraries, like the public lands set aside to preserve -in England they’re called the Public Trust. The public airwaves belong to us, and they need to speak for us. Please come!

Thank you!

Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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1 Response to Address to the Democratic Party

  1. Avatar Diann says:

    Devisive? Heck, no. They are all getting what they want, more or less. An interview with Peter Camejo, who was the vice presidential candidate running with Ralph Nader in the last election stated this most clearly……”Money controls both parties. The Republicans set the platform and the Democrats figure out how to get the people to accept it. And they can only get them to accept it by appearing to be worried about their concerns and their interests.

    The Democrats play a role of demanding changes to the platform in order to get us voters to accept it. They play the role of cooption, demobilization and dispersion of protest movements and social forces that are independent of the corporate world. The Democratic Party is the key to the two party system working. In a way, what we live under is a dictatorship of money over the people–through a two-party system that gives the appearance that the people are making the decisions, when, in fact, the decisions are made through the power of money and corporate control.”

    My own personal thoughts are, that the so-called progressive Democrats (and don’t forget the relatively new “Moderates and Conservative” Democrats, whatever their disquise) have proved that many are willing to vote FOR war and AGAINST civil liberties and are unable to provide a true backbone for progressive politics. Time for a new “Left”, in my book. Unfortunately, it will probably take an economic crisis of extreme proportions to propel those on the fence to take action and protect us from ourselves.

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