Saturday, June 24, 2006


Demanding Democracy

Below is a letter written to the mayors of Champaign and Urbana, Illinoise. Both of these officials have decided that efforts of the Socialist Equality Party to get candidate Joe Parnarauskis on the ballot, through the collection of signitures on a petition, can be restricted by Champaign Public Library administrators who maintain this activity cannot occur on a public sidewalk in front of the library. Nevermind that the gathering of signitures is required by law for anyone seeking to be placed on the ballot in elections in that state and that such activity is constitutionally protected as free speech. It is quite ironic, as I also note in the letter, that while U. S. soldiers are fighting and dying abroad to bring democracy to the Middle East, here at home it is democracy that is fighting to live.

Dear Mayors Schweighart and Prussing,

For the past few weeks I have been monitoring the situation in your respective cities concerning the signature gathering process by the Socialist Equality Party in its efforts to be placed on the ballot. As a person of color it pains me very much to see that 50 years after the Civil Rights Movement, we are still seeing citizens right to choose restricted or even denied. As you surely realize, more than just fighting for the rights of people of color, one of the fundamental points of the Civil Rights Movement was the demand that all citizens be accorded the same rights. By unconstitutionally hindering the efforts of the SEP to collect the required signatures its candidate, Joe Parnarauskis, needs to be placed on the ballot, you are denying Mr. Parnarauskis’s right under the banner of the SEP to present himself as a candidate and the people’s right to vote for him, or, not to vote for him.

I find it quite curious that the leadership of this country continuously trumpets its commitment to democracy and even goes so far as launching wars in an effort to spread it yet, in the recent past there has arisen, to put it mildly, questionable circumstances surrounding elections in this country. The Florida recount fiasco in 2000 and the murky situation in Ohio in 2004 immediately come to mind here. The elections in your cities cannot be allowed to become another example of faulty democracy here at home. Because of the rationale, based supposedly on spreading “freedom and democracy,” now used to justify our country’s wars abroad, the whole world is watching to see if rhetoric matches reality.

Finally, if hypothetically speaking, assuming Mr. Parnarauskis gets on the ballot and he were to win the election, this would mean that had he not been allowed to run because of fundamentally illegal or unconstitutional actions by authorities such as yourselves, a sizeable portion of your respective counties citizens, who would have voted for him, would be denied representation. This would thus amount to taxation without representation and we all know what happened last time there was taxation without representation in this country.

As a concerned citizen, I therefore demand that both of you as elected representatives allow the democratic process to play itself out. It is not only constitutional, legal or rational to do so, but it is the right thing to do.


Johnnie Quezada

Brooklyn, New York

June 24, 2006

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