Proposition One


Domestic Political Considerations

History demonstrates that the legislature has been willing to ignore the wishes of the electorate in the matter of military issues. The propaganda, behind-the-scenes dealing, and monetary advantages to their respective campaigns have consistently induced legislators to ignore their commitment to the will of their constituents. Voter dissatisfaction is growing.

While popular opinion thinks we are in a conservative long-range trend, this opinion is subject to the conservative propaganda machine and ignores the underlying pitfall of no mandate. When those in power have continually decreasing voter participation, they ultimately have no mandate and are vulnerable. It is only a matter of time until someone or something puts the '60's generation overwhelmingly in the polls. At that point, politics in America will change forever.

How to get there is the focus of this paper.

In America, low voter participation allows the majority sentiment to get lost in the shuffle at the policymaking table. Only some 50% of those eligible to vote register. Roughly 50% of those don't come out on election day. The remaining 25% of the voting eligibles are split about in half, Democrats and Republicans. One side wins and one side loses, leaving l3% or l4% of the people deciding who runs the government, often against the majority's wishes and/or interests. The key to understanding here lies in recognizing the motivations of the 75% non-voting demographic group, as well as the registered voters.

Registered Voters

When registered voters are broken down into demographic groups, the likelihood of victory in 1996 can be clearly seen. Among registered voters, three distinct groups are defined.

Group 1) Those diametrically opposed to the elimination of nuclear weapons because they believe it would be a detriment to national security.

Group 2) Those essentially opposed to nuclear weapons, but they override their moral considerations on the perceived threat from opponents who have nuclear capability.

Group 3) Those who are diametrically opposed to nuclear weapons on moral and/or scientific grounds.

Groups 1 and 3 are quite fixed in their positions. However, in order to keep the weapons, Group 1 is entirely dependent on a majority of Group 2's support. Hence a majority of Group 2 must feel that national security considerations outweigh their moral beliefs against nuclear weapons before they will justify the weapons and join with Group 1 to become the overall majority.

Ironically, Group 2 is also a natural ally of Group 3. Group 1 has control of the media, the government, and therefore, information. Group 1, utilizing control of information, has made Group 2 believe they are under threat and should override their moral beliefs. The primary threat used by Group 1: the possession of nuclear weapons by its adversaries.

The bi-national nature of Proposition One and contemporary history are whittling away at the base of Group 2's support for Group 1. To prevail in 1996, Proposition One will need to persuade only a bare majority of its natural ally, Group 2, to join Group 3. That percentage is virtually assured. Even during the height of the Cold War's "Evil Empire" rhetoric, a majority of Group 2 cast its vote in support of the Freeze Initiative, or with Group 3.


We believe there are two primary groups among the non-voting public. One of these groups is apathetic. What happens in the policy arena of the country does not interest them. It is unknown to what degree this group will get involved in the process.

The other group is part of an ongoing political struggle beginning during the Vietnam war period. The accomplishments of this group, both in and out of the polls, have only begun. What is very clear though is that this group is far from apathetic. Some of the same reasons for non-participation may be common to both groups. Only the potential for motivation on issues of broad public concern is in question.

The majority of non-voters are the '60's generation, still reacting in the drop-out mode. The political actions of this group have already made a substantial impact on society. They stopped the Vietnam war, the first time in world history that a government has been stopped, midstream, in a war by the people's demand. They won major victories in civil rights. They placed nuclear arms on the national and ultimately the international agenda. They placed their issues concerning the environment on the agenda worldwide. All these successes were accomplished on the streets -- through protest and demonstrations -- and affected the rest of the electorate to enact the political side of the progress thus far made. As yet, this generation has not entered the polls in any substantial percentage.

Most important is what is known about the breakdown of these two groups in numbers. At least 2/3 of the overall group are from the baby-boom generation. It is widely believed that what this group does in a given election will determine the outcome of that election, as the typical breakdown is near 50%-50% among conservatives and progressives.

To affect the overall alleged balance of political power it is not necessary for a tremendous and catastrophic change to come about. The secret is to register sympathetic voters. Our target is a 10% registration increase, which is entirely feasible, once registration becomes the "thing to do." Other political models show that even a 30% registration could occur if empowerment is clearly seen as a likely outcome.

Case in point: No governor had ever been recalled in American history. In l987-88 the governor of Arizona was ordered to a recall election. The conventional wisdom deemed the effort impossible because the electorate had just put him in office. The centerpiece of The Mecham Watchdog Committee's campaign was to target the unregistered voter for registration. Early on they determined that a l0% registration would overwhelmingly defeat Mecham. They turned in 480,000 signatures, l30,000 more than Mecham received as votes in the general election that put him in office. Ultimately 300,000 new voters were registered in a state with l.5 million eligibles -- a 30% registration increase.

The lesson was clear: give the non-voter a simple procedure where he/she can have an impact or make a direct change by signing a paper and pulling a handle, and he/she will take that option. In the final analysis, it was the empowerment that caused the massive registration.

Empowerment is the key word in this equation. Should the non-voters ever see a clear path toward true empowerment, or direct change at their own hands, they will react. The job of the polical leaders of the peace and justice community is to make this connection clearly. We must make it easy for them to express their agenda.

In each of the individual jurisdictions the committees in the states should act in concert with a national focus. We create a political climate through leadership and direction of focus to register, sign here, and pull the handle.

Initiatives are powerful voter registration tools. Anything that registers progressive voters serves many purposes on the progressive agenda.

The '60's Generation

The establishment wishes to write the '60's generation off as apathetic. The fact is, apathy and drop-out are very different. The former is, "I don't care." The latter is just one in a long line of demonstrations. Primarily, drop-outs believe that politicians won't enact their concerns. Thus, they believe their vote will do no good. While the initial stages of the drop-out mode (circa l970) came about due to the drop-outs' substantial minority position, some have long been aware that "drop-out" was actually a demonstration and a "bide your time."

Most carrying on the demonstration of the drop-out mode don't realize the basis and history of the drop-out decisions. Nonetheless, around l987 the drop-outs outlived the preceding generation, passing a demographic point where they became the majority. An unorganized majority, but a majority just the same.

If our analysis of the "baby-boom" non-voter is anywhere near correct, when this group sees the potential for real change, real empowerment, in their own hands, they will act swiftly.

The last time (and really the only time since Vietnam) the peace and justice community put their collective minds together and acted in unity at the ballot box, they demonstrated what could be done. During the height of the "evil empire" rhetoric the Freeze Initiative won overwhelmingly. This committee takes the position that it's time to stop acting like a minority, and accept the responsibility that is ours alone to bear.

With the 1992 election the baby-boom political tug-of-war began in earnest, when a 47-year-old Democrat took the White House from the World War II vet set. A flock of post-WWII Republicans swept into Congress in 1994 on an illogical platform, no doubt concocted by their elders, with that age-old promise to improve the economy by increasing defense spending while decreasing taxes, and somehoe balancing the multi-trillion dollar budget deficit at the same time.

The old way doesn't work, of course. Political promises are worthless if not grounded in logic and law. Shoring up the defense industries will not save the economy. Converting them might.

Proposition One is empowerment. If indeed we should wish to get rid of nuclear weapons, we submit there is only one way. Demonstrate the sovereign power of the people: a weight-of-law petition. This plan takes maximum advantage of the provisions placed in Article V of the U.S. Constitution. It gives the electorate, who may be the only ones who would get rid of these weapons, the maximum "say so."

Written by Joseph Vigorito, 1991, (Mecham Watchdog Committee)

Updated April 1995