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Earlier this week, Mayor Bloomberg offered, among other inducements, a ten percent discount at participating New York City Applebee's to all RNC protesters who picked up and presented a powder-blue NYC "Peaceful Political Activist" button.

The location of these Applebee's are some of the few points of interest to protesters not chronicled in The People's Guide, a free compendium of events, directions, legal resources, restaurant recommendations, hospital locations, and other valuable RNC-related material. "Intended to standardize communication among event-planners, protesters, media, tourists, wanderers, monitors, hangers-on, and friends," the recently published guide offers a tremendous amount of info on the anticipated protests, panels, presentations, performances and parties that are expected to greet the GOP delegates when they hit New York City.

Click here to check out The People's Guide, click here for a daily calendar of RNC-related events and click here for a list of suggested ways you can help the anti-RNC efforts. We'll continue to highlight various events, protests and campaigns as the RNC draws closer, so watch this space for details and let us know about any activities you think we should be featuring by clicking here.

If you're a recovering Deaniac who believes that Howard Dean's presidential run inspired legions of young people to get involved in politics, leveraged the internet's power to break the grip of big money on politics, and gave the Democratic Party a much-needed spine transplant, you probably already know about the "Dean Dozens" and the newly-formed political action committee, Democracy for America. But, if you don't, here's the early report.

Since May, Dean's DFA, has endorsed more than 60 candidates running in local, state and national races--from school board member in Huntsville, Alabama, to mayor of Salt Lake County, Utah.

For years, progressives have talked about taking a page from the Right's playbook. That means many things--from building think-tanks and media outlets to pioneering new web-based communications. But if our whole is going to equal the sum of our parts, progressives need to recruit, train and support hundreds of candidates at all levels.

In his speeches off the convention floor in Boston, Dean seemed keenly aware of the Right's success in defining our politics over the past generation by building independent institutions and operational capacities. At several points, he even invoked Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition (CC) as an example of how one group had succeeded in changing the GOP by taking over the party's key operations and structures.

At "The Take Back America" conference in Boston during DNC week, a feisty Dean urged supporters to run for local office--even if just the local library board. The centerpiece of his message to progressives: Let's put aside our small differences and take back our party. Or, as Dean said---picking up on what the late Senator Paul Wellstone told us: It's time to strengthen the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party."

Toward that goal, Dean and "Democracy for America"--working with savvy progressive groups such as Progressive Majority (PM), and 21st Century Democrats--are committed to giving back power to citizens, and finding and supporting the next generation of grassroots leaders.

DFA supports candidates who are "socially progressive" but also "fiscally responsible." Some of its more than 60 candidates across the country include Suzanne Williams, running for a seat in the Colorado State Senate, Eddgra Fallin, running for the Huntsville, Alabama, school board, and Mary Jo Kilroy running for reelection as Franklin County, Ohio Commissioner. "They probably won't all win," says a key supporter of Democracy for America, "But the point is that they are almost all new to the political process and they will win eventually."

In fact, several Dean Dozen candidates have already scored victories:

* In Georgia, Judge Gail Tusan fought back a conservative onslaught and won re-election in July.

* Following her support of equal rights for gay and lesbian couples, State Representative Alisha Thomas Morgan was challenged in a primary, and won with 87 percent of the vote.

* In North Carolina, Debra Sasser won her place on the Wake Country District Court general election ballot and State Senate candidate Julia Boseman won the Democratic primary for the 9th District.

* In Missouri, http://www.maria2004.com/index.html "> Maria Chappelle-Nadal won her closely fought primary to become the Democratic nominee for the 72nd State House District.

The latest Dean Dozen list includes three candidates for state representative in Hawaii--"running to unseat ultra-conservative Republican incumbents;" a candidate for the Colorado state senate and one running for the state house in Connecticut.

If you're an interested candidate, go to the DFA website for information. A " candidate questionnaire" can be filled out on the site. (Among the questions: "What role will grassroots organizing play in your campaign?") Some candidates receive DFA's endorsement because they are courageous enough to challenge conservative incumbents; others get the nod because of their deep community support, internet savvy, labor ties or links to grassroots organizations.

As Gloria Totten, veteran political organizer and Progressive Majority's director, put it, "The time is right for all the new organizing that is happening. George W. Bush and his wrong-headed policies have galvanized us." But, more importantly, she says, "There is an emerging leadership among progressives that is not willing to continue to be right on the issues and lose elections."

One of the best ways to give muscle to the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, empower citizens, and build a politics of passion and principle--in November and beyond--is by recruiting progressives to take back power--from school boards to Capitol Hill. Howard Dean's "Democracy for America" is one of the key groups doing just that. Click here to learn more about DFA's efforts.

How Jim McGreevey perfected the art of swimming in the mainstream.

As virtually all Nation readers know, there are literally hundreds of events being planned to greet the Republican delegates when the GOP arrives in New York City to convene at the end of August. Kicking off the anticipated protests, panels, presentations and parties is this Friday's Beyond Bush: A Night of Visionary Resistance, taking place at Hunter College in Manhattan.

The keynote event of the Life After Capitalism Festival, this evening features talks by some of the most inspiring dissident voices of the time, including Nation columnist and award-winning author Naomi Klein, Robin Kelley, Vijay Prashad and Michael Albert. The session will also include a special extended preview of the acclaimed documentary, The Fourth World War.

This all takes place at Hunter College's Assembly Hall this Friday, August 20, at 7:00pm. Click here or call 212-817-8215 for tickets, which are being sold on a sliding scale, and click here for directions to Hunter.

Taking place this coming weekend, the LAC Festival aims to provide space for activists to gather and reflect on the importance of long-term vision and strategy through a series of workshops, breakout sessions and informal networking. Panel discussions over the course of the weekend featureAdolph Reed, Michael Hardt, Lisa Fithian, Jason West, Lynne Stewart and Starhawk, among many others. Click here for more info.

The first-ever Imagine Festival of Arts, Issues and Ideas is another of the many creative responses to the RNC convention and the threat posed by a Bush victory in November. A gala of more than 125 events mixing artistic and educational activities through a series of concerts, performances, screenings, forums, town meetings and performance art, the Imagine Festival takes place all over New York City from August 28 to September 2. Click here for more details, event listings and ticket info.

And check out the CounterConvention website for information about the full range of planned protest, cultural and educational activities while the Republican Party meets in New York City. You can also find useful resources at RNCNotWelcome.Org, including info on housing and transportation, downloadable flyers and graphics to help get out the word, and a list of suggested ways you can help the anti-RNC efforts.

We'll continue to highlight various events, protests and campaigns as the RNC draws nearer, so watch this space for details and let us know about any activities you think we should be featuring by clicking here.

With the stakes so high, this election may well bring a massive surge in voter registration. Sadly, the potential for widespread voter disenfranchisement due to incompetence, fraud and outright intimidation is as high as it was in 2000.

Lessons were learned in the debacle of "Selection 2000," but government has done little to reform the process. In addition to the problems associated with butterfly ballots and "hanging chads," as many as three million Americans were disenfranchised by so-called voter registration "glitches." Applicants never got onto voting rolls; Voters were sent to the wrong polling places; some were given faulty information about ID requirements.

And, although these problems still haven't been corrected three months before the presidential election, there's hope because of the America's Families United Voter Protection Project (AFUVPP), one of several good organizations fighting effectively to avert another 2000 fiasco.

AFUVPP says that monumental roadblocks to voter registration and a clean election remain, including the failures of government agencies to process voter registration forms properly; purges of voters from the rolls; voters appearing at the wrong polling place by mistake; improper and confusing ID requirements; intimidation of voters, and problems with ballots and voting systems. Concrete examples abound: in St. Louis, Missouri, election officials told voter registration workers that of 30,000 applications submitted, two-thirds had been rejected. No reasons were given; the Voter Protection Project is investigating the matter. (Missouri's rolls were wildly inaccurate in 2000, sowing chaos on Election Day.) In another state, watchdog organizations can't verify that "applicants have been placed on the roles" because --astonishingly--the state has a statute prohibiting the copying of registration forms that can be matched against the lists of voter applicants!

There's also the problem of voter intimidation. In Louisiana in 2002, fliers were posted in one African-American community urging people to vote on Tuesday, December 10th even though Election Day was Sunday, December 8th. In Texas, a group of African-American students were told that they weren't eligible to vote in the county where they attended college. Forty years after Freedom Summer, voter registration drives continue to face hostility from local law enforcement and private attempts. AFUVPP points out one voter registration office which "was recently visited by a local sheriff, who inquired into irrelevant matters such as the project's funders and employees." These are only a few of dozens of roadblocks AFUVPP is currently addressing.

These problems--as prevalent and sinister as Florida's infamous butterfly ballots--threaten a fair outcome in November's presidential election and serve to mock and menace the promise of a free and fair election. Under our current jerry-built system, local election boards often get overwhelmed and election workers are underpaid and poorly trained; in many cases applicants aren't placed on the rolls due to sheer human incompetence. The AFU's Voter Protection Project is absolutely essential to ensure that every eligible voter has access to the polls, and that every vote cast in 2004 gets counted.

The folks at the Voter Protection Project understand that they can't wait until Election Day to take action. Therefore, to fix the problems in our system, the Project has already launched a sophisticated campaign in as many as 100 counties (and approximately 20 states). The AFUVPP is monitoring registration efforts to ensure applicants get on the rolls. When problems are reported, the AFUVPP works with and watches local officials to correct the mistake, and it "re-register[s] applicants where necessary." The Project will act to clarify the ID rules and processes, to address their implementation and to educatevoters. And AFUVPP is working with "local monitoring and advocacy coalitions" and lawyers to protect voting rights for all Americans.

The AFUVPP, in conjunction with AFU's registration workers and non-partisan voting rights coordinators, is scrutinizing those states that "purge"ex-felons from the rolls to ensure that people's rights aren't violated. It is monitoring electronic touch-screen voting machines (which 30 percent of voters will use on Election Day) to prevent any tampering and ensure a credible result. And finally, armed with lawyers, poll monitors and other volunteers, the AFUVPP will provide training, guidance and legal support to international election observers in six states to guard the process on Election Day.

In a recent interview, Penda D. Hair, the director of the AFUVPP, underscored the need to "start way before the election with voter registration" to avert another 2000 election debacle. "What happened in communities of color went well beyond chads and butterfly ballots," she said, adding that there was "suppression and lost votes," which had a "ripple effect" that undermined people's confidence in the result. Working with state and local leaders and organizations like ACORN and US Action, the AFUVPP is pleased "to have so many allies" in this broad-based civil rights struggle, but it also understands the hard slog ahead.

The NAACP's Julian Bond and People for the American Way's Ralph Neas recently warned: "The bloody days of violence and retribution following the Civil War and Reconstruction are gone. The poll taxes, literacy tests and physical violence of the Jim Crow era have disappeared. Today, more subtle, cynical and creative tactics have taken their place."

If you want to assist the AFUVPP in the fight against voter disenfranchisement, click here and see how you can make a difference. In 2004, the true lessons of the 2000 debacle--beyond butterflies and "chads" must not be forgotten. At stake, isn't simply our choice for America's next president, but also our faith in our nation's democracy.

This editorial was originally published in the September 24, 1964 iss ue of The Nation. If you want to read everything The Nation has ever published on presidential politics, click here for information on how to acquire individual access to the Archive--an electronic database of every Nation article since 1865.

Google has been acting as a censor to any political advertising with an edge.

Dr. Marc regularly answers readers' questions on matters relating to medicine, healthcare and politics. To send a query, click here.

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