Civil Disobedience As An Instrument Of Change

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 @ 5:10AM

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states the following:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

When government fails to listen to the will of the people, the people have the right, and the duty, to take action.

Throughout the history of our Nation, civil disobedience has played an important role in bringing about significant change.

This article was sent to me by a friend, who got it from a friend.

Read what happened to the women suffragists who fought for the right to vote in the 1900’s.



This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great- grandmothers, as they lived only 90 years ago.   Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.  And by the end of the night, they were barely alive.  Forty prison guards wielding clubs, and their warden’s blessing, went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of ‘obstructing sidewalk traffic.’

They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the ‘Night of Terror’ on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food–all of it colorless slop–was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won’t vote this year because–why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn’t matter? It’s raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO’s new movie ‘Iron Jawed Angels.’ It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege.  Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women’s history, saw the HBO movie, too.  When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was–with herself. ‘One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,’ she said. ‘What would those women think of the way I use–or don’t use–my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.’ The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her ‘all over again.’

HBO released the movie on video and DVD. I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn’t our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutional-ized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse.  Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave.  That didn’t make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: ‘Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.’

Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know.

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party – Remember to vote.

History is being made.


And, if all of the freedom-loving citizens in this country join forces, we will make history in 2010, 2012, and 2014.

In the 2008 election, 69,456,897 eligible American citizens cast their votes for Barack Obama.

154,198,685 other eligible Americans did not.

Conclusion: “We The People” outnumber the “Enemies of Freedom” by a 69% to 31% margin, a clear advantage in any battle.

So, with a clear numerical advantage, why would anyone adopt the position that it is impossible to stop the Democrats’ march toward Socialism?

I am struck by fact that 129,391,711 of you cast your votes for either a Democrat or a Republican in 2008, knowing full well that your vote would be wasted.  It is pretty obvious to millions of free-thinking Americans that neither major party has a plan to solve the problems facing our nation today.  And, I believe it is becoming painfully obvious to a growing number of you that neither party is interested in doing so. Their sole mission is to stay in power.

Our mission is to vote them out.

The American Citizen Party was formed to give you something to vote FOR:

Personal responsibility;

Economic freedom;

Smaller government;

States rights;

A simpler, fairer tax collection system, and;

A return to the governing principles in the U.S. Constitution.

So, keep this in mind as you contemplate your role in determining the future of our country:

A vote based in principle, and cast with conviction, is not a wasted vote.  It is the most powerful weapon on earth.


Robert A. McNeil, Chairman
American Citizen Party

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2 Comments to "Civil Disobedience As An Instrument Of Change" add comment
Ben-David Singleton
September 10, 2009 at 5:16 am

Instead of focusing on repealing the 16th Amendment which thanks to past ruling by SCOTUS would not repeal the federal income tax, it would probably be more affective to enact an amendment reading something similar to the following.

The excisting Federal tax code is hereby repealed and Congress shall henceforce be forbiden from imposing a tax upon personal or business income, but may still impose excise taxes upon good or services, imposts or duties.

September 28, 2009 at 1:30 am
Submitted on 2009/09/28 at 8:49pm

The key to restoring our freedom rests with Congress enacting my Economic Freedom Act, which fundamentally changes the way “We the People” fund the federal government. Once that happens, the next step is to repeal the Corporate Tax Act of 1909 and the Income Tax Act of 1913, which will effectively gut the federal tax code. Couple that with the repeal of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and ….. LET FREEDOM RING!

But, speaking as a long-time business consultant, I have learned that the job isn’t finished until the paperwork is done. So, I propose that we repeal the 16th Amendment to the Constitution for that reason, as well the ones listed below:

1. It would restore Congress’ authority to impose direct taxes to the authority set forth in Article 1 Section 2(3) and Article 1 Section 9(4) of the U.S. Constitution, and
2. It would be a very powerful symbol to the American people, and the world, if millions of citizens rallied the legislatures in 75% of the states to vote to repeal the 16th Amendment and restore their economic freedom.

As always, I appreciate the comments from those who choose to take the time to write them.

And, I thank you for yours.

Bob McNeil
American Citizen Party

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