The Continental Congress in Philadelphia debated the merits of independency versus reconciliation. Before the more conservative elements of the Congress, led by Pennsylvania's John Dickinson, would even consider independence a viable option, they demanded that the Congress extend a conciliatory overture to King George III. The result was what became known as the Olive Branch Petition. Despite the number of offenses the colonists were forced to endure, from a lack of representation in Parliament, to the Intolerable Acts and beyond, they sought a peaceful redress of their grievances in the hopes that conflict could be avoided:
Knowing, to what violent resentments and incurable animosities, civil discords are apt to exasperate and inflame the contending parties, we think ourselves required by indispensable obligations to Almighty God, to your Majesty, to our fellow subjects, and to ourselves, immediately to use all the means in our power not incompatible with our safety, for stopping the further effusion of blood, and for averting the impending calamities that threaten the British Empire.
It is reported that George III never even set eyes on the petition, dismissed it out of hand, publicly proclaimed the colonies to be in open rebellion, and demanded it be suppressed, ordering all members of the realm to seek out and turn in participants in the revolt for punishment:
Whereas many of our subjects in divers parts of our Colonies and Plantations in North America, misled by dangerous and ill designing men, and forgetting the allegiance which they owe to the power that has protected and supported them; after various disorderly acts committed in disturbance of the publick peace, to the obstruction of lawful commerce, and to the oppression of our loyal subjects carrying on the same; have at length proceeded to open and avowed rebellion, by arraying themselves in a hostile manner, to withstand the execution of the law, and traitorously preparing, ordering and levying war against us: And whereas, there is reason to apprehend that such rebellion hath been much promoted and encouraged by the traitorous correspondence, counsels and comfort of divers wicked and desperate persons within this realm: To the end therefore, that none of our subjects may neglect or violate their duty through ignorance thereof, or through any doubt of the protection which the law will afford to their loyalty and zeal, we have thought fit, by and with the advice of our Privy Council, to issue our Royal Proclamation, hereby declaring, that not only all our Officers, civil and military, are obliged to exert their utmost endeavours to suppress such rebellion, and to bring the traitors to justice, but that all our subjects of this Realm, and the dominions thereunto belonging, are bound by law to be aiding and assisting in the suppression of such rebellion, and to disclose and make known all traitorous conspiracies and attempts against us...
Now, in 2008, we find that not much has changed. From the moment that the DNC anointed their chosen candidate, immediately following the June 3rd primaries, members of the PUMA movement petitioned Democratic Party Automatic Delegates, members of the DNC, and its Chairman Howard Dean, demanding that democratic procedures be upheld, that the party adhere to its rules, and allow these machinations to play themselves out openly and freely. We literally begged.
Through it all Chairman Dean and his hench(wo)men obstinately refused to make an open, unequivocal statement regarding Senator Clinton's name being placed in nomination. It was obvious to those paying attention that the DNC was going to do everything possible to insure that their selected candidate was not going to be challenged at the Democratic National Convention. It was in this atmosphere that The Denver Group, PUMA PAC, and the rest of the Just Say No Deal Coalition were formed. Fighting through the summer, it was not until the middle of August that the Democratic Party finally acknowledged, under pressure from us, that yes, Senator Clinton's name would be placed in nomination. Then the issue immediately became; would her delegates be allowed to vote?
Again we petitioned. We made phone calls. We contacted the Automatic Delegates from our states. We wrote letters to the editor. We placed advertisements in newspapers. We marched in the streets of Denver. All to no avail. Our voices fell on deaf ears. Senator Clinton's pledged delegates were intimidated, threatened, and prevented from meeting and organizing, lest they obtain the 800 signatures required to call for a full roll call vote from the floor of the convention. The ballots were cast behind closed doors. The televised roll call was a sham, rigged to deliver an outcome that had been determined before the first Democratic Primary ballot had ever been cast. As was told to me by a Clinton pledged delegate on the street in Denver; there was no way Clinton was ever going to get the nomination, because Howard Dean and Donna Brazile did not want her to have it.
We gave the DNC and the Democratic Party every opportunity to adhere to its own charter. We gave them ample opportunity to show that they valued democracy. We were not asking for anything extraordinary. All we wanted was for the delegates to the Democratic Party's convention to be able to exercise their rights and obligations under the party's rules. All we wanted was for the delegates to vote openly and freely so that our votes, as represented by those delegates, would be counted and recorded. Is this such an outrageous request? Is it so stupendous a notion to expect that a political entity, that operates ultimately under the Constitution of the United States, allow citizens to have their votes counted? It is our most sacred right as Americans. It was denied to us, and now the time for petitions is past. The time for revolt is upon us.
The Democratic Party has not characterized us much differently than George III did the rebellious colonies whom he said were, "...forgetting their allegiance which they owe to the power that has protected and supported them." Has the Democratic Party not said we have no where else to go? But like the misguided king, the Democratic Party fails to see the obvious; when the DNC subverted its own democratic procedures, allowed the proliferation of rampant sexist attacks against one of its own candidates, attempted to suppress and isolate its homosexual members by denying them the benefit of party affirmative action rules, and refused to allow our votes to be properly represented at the Democratic National Convention, it was not protecting or supporting us in any way, shape, or form. The Democratic Party's own actions have drawn us into an open rebellion. Even as we begin to engage in this fight their candidate demands that his followers get in our faces, "truth squads", under the auspices of the DNC, are being formed to suppress the Constitutional rights of American citizens, and a complicit media creates a false reality designed to marginalize the opposition.
George III's response to the Continental Congress' petition was unequivocal. Those who returned to the side of the crown were to be embraced. Those that were unrepentant and led the movement were to be hanged. Undoubtedly it was a somber moment when the vote for independency was cast. There was no going back. If the rebellion failed the delegates to the Congress would surely have been executed for treason. There is no going back for us either. To curb and censor ourselves, to cease in this effort now would be to capitulate to the end of Democratic principle and let all that we hold dear as citizens be bastardized and twisted until it is beyond recognition. This is not a time for parsing. This is not a time for equivocating. As was written by Thomas Paine in 1776:
The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind. Many circumstances hath, and will arise, which are not local, but universal, and through which the principles of all Lovers of Mankind are affected, and in the Event of which, their Affections are interested.
We are fighting for nothing less than a universal and unalienable human right that no man made institution has the right to attempt to suppress. Though there may be millions of Americans willing to abdicate those rights; we are not among them. The Democratic Party is on notice that we will exercise those rights to their fullest extent under the law in order to see that they are preserved.
this essay is cross-posted at FDR