The Civilist Papers

Reform Congress Now!

The Civilist Papers is the joint project of Mike Shanahan and me, Doug Hughes. We endorse an approach targeting the 2016 election with the objective of a bi-partisan majority in the US House of Representatives who have endorsed reform without evasion – reform defined by the greater movement – not the candidates.

Because only a third of the Senate is up for election every two years, we can’t establish a majority in the Senate in 2016, but a strong showing in Senate races plus a majority of reformists in the House is the biblical ‘handwriting on the wall’. “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.” (Google it, dude.) To survive, the old guard of the Senate must support reform.

Civilism is Mike’s idea, but we distilled a broad concept down to four specific principles built around the goal of energizing democracy. We came to our conclusions BEFORE we heard about Rootstrikers and the greater movement. Without getting into details, which are on the site, those principles of The Civilist Papers are:

1) Free and Fair Elections (without fraud)
2) Shutting down the control of Special Interests and Lobbyists
3) End profiteering by Congress while in office
4) Campaign Finance Reform

Our strategy is to bird-dog 435 House races and 34 Senate races. Yes, we’re talking about a 50-state strategy and less than 2 years to do it. If the incumbent won’t fully endorse reform, we’re going to recruit someone who can win and WILL fully endorse. In a lot of cases, this will mean a candidate of the same party as the incumbent and an upset in the primary election. This is NOT a partisan Trojan horse conspiracy to undermine either party.

In my opinion, there are plenty of potential candidates for Congress, democrats and republicans who wouldn’t touch national politics with a ten-foot pole. These are candidates with education and proven management skills who know how dirty politics in Washington is. They would enter the cesspool of congress if they saw any way they could remedy the institutional corruption – but there’s no way just one one honest man or woman can change the way things are done. Again, this is opinion, but I think a strong electoral movement, meaning LOTS of voters demanding honesty now, can create a climate where these proven leaders will volunteer to real public service in a historic moment.

“All politics is local.” – Tip O’Neil. Candidates, no matter how well tied they are to the party machine, campaign fund sources, and big-name endorsements have to convince the voter at HOME – that he or she is the best candidate. I think there’s an alliance between the national media and supporters of the corrupt status quo. That’s the political parties and the ad money they command and the election industry which runs 365 days per year. The NATIONAL media is sold out.

Local media, particularly newspapers, are struggling to survive. ‘Local’ and ‘newspaper’ are used together so often, they’re almost synonymous – and remember- ‘All politics is local’. US House of Representatives are elected by voters from small districts. Newspapers and local TV haven’t been cut into the big bucks and they have enormous clout in elections to Congress. If the local print media is to survive, they can (potentially) get a huge shot in circulation and ad revenue by becoming more relevant on issues the national media won’t and can’t cover.

Out of fairness, I used the phrase ‘can’t cover’ when I said national news ‘can’t cover’ local scandals. National media can’t devote any detail to the implicit corruption of 435 US House races when almost every member will support corruption while pretending opposition. A local paper can do a detailed story about the recent retired members of Congress cashing in – the national media can’t justify even a minute of national exposure to an obscure retired congressman.

Fact – Nearly half of the retired members of Congress are employed as lobbyists at multi-million dollar salaries. How did they vote in Congress and who are the clients who now reward them so lavishly. With HUNDREDS of retired congressmen participating in legalized, institutionalized bribery, it will take the LOCAL, especially newspaper media, to expose each case and discuss the reforms to address it.

Eventually, Congress has to go home and pound the pavement locally before the next election. No candidate who stonewalls the local media should be allowed to be elected on ads funded by anonymous sources. Make candidates do interviews and ask the question on corruption and don’t let them give a weasel-worded endorsement of generic ‘reform’ without a commitment to REAL reform – as defined by the general movement. The national media has captured the money, but the local press still has the power.

I believe that a coordinated non-partisan effort can overcome the Party Machine Candidate. There are more independent voters than there are either democrats or republicans. That statistic means even a well-funded incumbent is vulnerable if he won’t endorse real reform and his opponent will. An Independent voter has announced that he has rejected the Party Machine by checking the ‘Independent’ box. My opinion is – that HUGE chunk of Independent voters leans heavily for reform and has for many elections – they’ve never had the option to exercise their power.

We carved out a unique niche when we invented The Civilist Papers. The approach of Wolf PAC includes a 50-state strategy to persuade 34 state legislatures to call for an Article V Convention to pass a Constitutional Amendment. But they aren’t promoting an electoral strategy. RepresentUS has a legislative solution, but no plan to build a 50-state organization to recruit and elect a majority in Congress.

Both groups are correct in what they are doing, and we at The Civilst Papers won’t hamper their efforts at all. This isn’t by design. :) We came up with our ideas before we knew of theirs. I’ve studied both groups and I’m convinced we all three have to pursue our separate strategies concurrently for any of us to succeed. I’m not suggesting we can’t or shouldn’t coordinate when circumstances warrant it but most of the time, let each group do their own thing.

I see this as my life’s work. Assuming the flight doesn’t kill me, and I don’t get a lengthy prison term. I’m 61 now, but the median age of members of the Senate is 70. Over the next decade or so, I want to be a part of reform, first at the national level, and hopefully later in state campaigns to replicate enforceable standards that require elected officials have no option except to represent the people to the best of their ability. Close the opportunities for politicians to sell us out – legally – for their own personal gain.

That won’t make for neat, clean politics. We still won’t agree on a LOT of issues. Democracy is loud, messy, contentious and imperfect. Democracy is founded on the idea that nobody will always get everything they want. I can live with that if what I get is the best effort of representatives of the people doing their level-best to work for the benefit of the people.

14 Responses to The Civilist Papers

  1. Cindy Mueller says:

    Dear Doug,
    Thank you for your brave act. You are an inspiration to me. Thank you, also for this site. I will share it. I commit to doing more to take back our democracy. Please provide updates about you and our common goals.

  2. Joe Haley says:

    Thank you Mr. Hughes for your civil disobedience.
    I agree with you 100% in your view that our representatives
    do not have our ( citizens ) best interest at heart!

  3. kevin says:

    ever read what henry ford wrote 100 years ago about the international jew – the world’s foremost problem?
    & what Benjamin Freedman said at the willard hotel in washington in 1961?
    or watch the you-tube video: Rich man’s tricks, from kennedy to 9/11?
    it might peak your interest…

  4. Gregory Dugay says:

    Mr. Postman,
    I read the letter that you addressed to the congress and I have to say that I was unexpectedly impressed. Not only is your heart in the right place, and not only do you clearly have a grasp of the relevant issues, but you managed to avoid partisan babble that separates. Touche my friend. You are currently the most important postman in the country. I look forward to working with you toward our voters’ revolution. We don’t live in the dark ages any more so we should NOT tolerate the kind of lies and deceptions that are perpetrated against us on a daily basis.
    Thank you for your courage and sacrifice.

  5. Bart says:

    Mr. Hughes, I attempted to register at the civilist papers’ website (civilist blog) but did not received a confirmation email so I am assuming that the site is either moribund or superseded by this one.
    If it is not moribund I have several comments I would like to pass along on the content, much of it pettifogging but some of it substantial.
    Allow me to say, at this point, it is unfortunate, but predictable, that the main stream media (MSM) has chosen, again, to focus on the flash of light and not the site of the lightening strike. Concerns seem to be the “clown car” delivery system (a friend’s characterization, not mine) and the “threat” to a bunch of people for whom, I dare to speculate, most of us would give a tinker’s damn for the security of. The dear old gang of 535.
    For years now, I have been sounding a dull gong for the reality of corruption in our banana republic and I maintain that it is the essential first step that we eliminate corruption from our governance. Without the elimination of corruption, nothing else is of any consequence as none of the desires and concerns, right or left, can be addressed with a bunch of paid ponces dancing to the likes of Koch and Adelson. Corruption is the number one problem in the US, nothing else by a far margin. We need to concentrate our attention and our will to eliminating this plague but I see no means other than that which you advocate but a concentrated effort by a moderate coalition is, it appears, a fantasy of little potential.
    One problem I discern is that you address your appeal to “moderate voters” which is limiting. I am a social democrat after a decade of exposure to European social democracy so I am considerably to the left of some of my tea colleagues. Perhaps we could come together on this one issue, it is alluded to on your pages, to the exclusion of all others for the time being. If and when we are able to eliminate (okay, severely restrict) the corruption in the congress my colleagues of the right and I can undertake to debate the issues with some chance that things might be resolved at least to the point where we are neither fully pleased nor fully repulsed.
    Glad you got ROR and I hope you are in the position to find legal representation or, baring the financial resources, that they ACLU steps in. It’s a good day when you don’t get shot out of the sky…

  6. Etta Redinsfier says:

    I’m a great-grandma with serious health issues however, I admire what you did that I would like to send a cash donation. Where should it be sent?

    • Tampadoug47 says:

      There is a ‘tin cup’ on the right sidebar. It’s for people who can spare it. Take care of yourself and your family first. I wish you good health for now and thank you for the offer.

  7. Susan D'Alessandro says:

    The thing that bothers me is that so many politicians just lie! They figure out what people want and then they say what people want to hear and then just continue serving their rich masters. How is it possible to overcome that?

  8. Robin Miller says:

    Are you familiar with Lawrence Lessig? Harvard law prof, has started something called Mayday PAC –

    I emailed Larry about you – I’m just a working-class schmuck in a Bradenton trailer park, but some of that work has been inventing citizen journalism and generally helping to change news from a monologue to a dialog. So I’m semi-famous in some circles; have written 3 books, thousands of articles, etc.

    Anyway, you’re my kind of guy. Tomorrow I have a check coming, and as soon as I get it I’ll toss a few bucks into your tip cup.

    Also, if you’re into the Linux/FOSS culture, you’ve probably heard of Slashdot. Even in retirement, I’m the site’s video editor. Want to do an interview aimed at techies? Can be remote via Google hangout or I can come to your place.

    Get you some more fans, sand promote the indiegogo thing someone is sure to start for you if they haven’t already.


    - Rob

  9. John Martin says:

    You have shown great courage exercising your constitutional right to petition our elected representatives in Congress. As a former community and union activist I can see how far our politicians have taken us down the road to becoming a corporate police state. GOOD LUCK and thank you.

  10. Mike Atkin says:

    Doug and Mike- Amazing. Please see my street theater in the link. From a kindred spirit out here in the wilderness, very best regards. -Mike

  11. charrob says:

    -saw your interview with Democracy Now this week. You are truly an inspiration. Thank you!

    I would only add an additional rule: legally end the rotating door. Anyone working in government regulating an industry is not allowed to work for that industry say, for, 10 years following government service. Anyone working in government in any fashion who works with industry is not allowed to work for that industry for 10 years following government service.

    So, someone working at the Pentagon cannot rotate back and forth between the Pentagon and Defense Contractors. Someone working for the SEC cannot rotate back and forth between the SEC and Banks. Someone working for BOEM cannot rotate back and forth between BOEM and the oil companies (which is one (of many) reasons why the BP Horizon blew up in the Gulf — oil company cronies worked in and corrupted that government agency).

    So rather than just address members of the Legislative Branch to make laws, also make laws that affect the agencies in the Executive branch that are totally infested with cronyism.

    Many thanks for what you have done.
    My best of wishes to you.


  12. I have posted your information on facebook and G+

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