Dennis: How long have you been writing?
Tony: All my life, really. I took it up seriously during college when I had a tough instructor who told me my ideas and presentation of a paper were good, but down-graded me for poor mechanics. I took several writing classes afterward, so that in my first job out of college, I became the staff expert in writing and editing reports. 6 months later I was freelance, I have never looked back.
Dennis: You are involved with the movement to have a free and fair elections amendment to the Constitution. What is involved with this important movement and how can other individuals help?
Tony: The Free and Fair Elections Amendment is an attempt to create a set of national standards about what makes a good election, and to place it in our constitution as one of the bedrock pieces of democracy. The people need to make a statement here. It's been a hole in the Constitution since its inception, really.
At this point, we need commentary, ideas, and input. The wording is important, and we are trying to create one that meets the basic assumptions and needs of almost all the people. There is a robust discussion going on at www.calltoliberty.net/forum, and I am inviting as many people to participate as possible. We were surprised to discover that some of the inititial wording had already been defined in ways that are antagonistic to our ideas by courts. More people participating will help us avoid that problem in the future.
Soon, there will be organizational work, but for now we need participation and spreading the word. Send people to the website. We hope to launch a legislative campaign soon, but we want to get this right.
Dennis: You belong to a networking site called www.bookmarket.ning.com. Are there any others that you belong to which may be of interest to other writers.
Tony: I have been learning a lot in this area, as it is not one I am naturally drawn to. My daughter has been a tremendous help here. LiveJournal.com seems to have some great things for authors, and I have actually made some great contacts through MySpace. I think authors just need to get out there in every possible way.
Dennis: You have a book titled Call to Liberty. Please give an overview of the book and how people can purchase it.
You know, I think of this book as a crucible of thought meant to re-activate liberal American principles in the hearts and minds of the people. It mixes ideas across disciplines to create a tonic for the healing of the body politic. It starts by recalling the principles of liberal democracy, where they came from, and their comprehensive impact on society. Then, it addresses how those same principles are being challenged or eroded. There are internal political challenges, external enemies, and corporate economic structures which challenge and erode those principles, and which must be answered. Finally, I point a direction toward a notion of the citizen that we can all use, shape, and engage to help improve the political culture of the country.
To me, this is the one book everyone should read before the upcoming elections. It's not about candidates or even issues. It is about the state of our democracy, and I think we should all contemplate that before voting next time around.
Dennis: Tell us about the Center for Thoughtful Democracy which you founded?
Tony: The Center for Thoughtful Democracy is pretty much the silent organization behind the Free and Fair Elections Amendment at this point. It was initially designed to create public spaces for safe political discourse and debate. The Free and Fair Elections Amendment is a great place to begin its work.
Dennis: You have a newsletter. Please give an overview of the purpose of the newsletter and how others can subscribe to it.
Tony: The main purpose of the newsletter is changing as we speak. It was initially a traditional newsletter. But going forward, it will be a compendium of articles I have written and published in the last month with links to the full article, which will appear on the website. Subscription is super-easy--just sing up on the website at www.calltoliberty.org.
Tony: Our site at www.calltoliberty.org is the primary site for people to get involved. That is where we are hosting the discussions, even about the Free and Fair Elections Amendment at this point.
Dennis: How is the movement for getting a free and fair elections amendment to the Constitution proceeding?
Tony: There are two major steps needed in the Free and Fair Elections Amendment process. First, we need to nail down language that cannot be easily thwarted by courts, but which also satisfies our need to define the criteria for sound elections which address the concerns of people across the spectrum. That is going on in our forums online, and may occur in separate meetings and discussions. Concerned individuals should participate in the discussion to gain a sound understanding of the issues in development.
Second, we need to put together leadership teams. A point person and probably separate boards in each state will be required. Legislators and prominent citizens are beginning to see a real opportunity to make a difference and leave a legacy in this movement. The opportunity needs to be presented to hundreds of such people around the country, and in the Congress. We'd like to identify at least one point person in each state and list them on the website as the contact person in that state. To get listed, contact me at email@example.com.
Dennis: You have great articles on your site www.calltoliberty.org. Is it easy to comment on any of the articles and topics and how can people submit articles to the site?
Tony: We are really working to expand the articles on the site, but we want to maintain a high quality--thank you for commenting on that. Our idea is to present high quality, thoughtful, insightful work that challenges the various assumptions we all carry. Those assumptions are often at the center of political disputes, and too often, they trump facts and our common purpose as a nation. We also like pieces that expand the perspective on things; we don't want to be policy wonks, but to help citizens understand their own concern, consternation, and contemplation of the issues we face.
Articles can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, there is a need for a couple of volunteer editors. For that, contact me at email@example.com.
Dennis: Is there anything more you would like to add to this interview?
Tony: If you are interested in finding ways to heal the political divide in our nation, you should read my book, Call to Liberty. We have commonly held principles, like private property, individual sovereignty, and Rule of Law, which can be the basis of renewed and respectful dialog. Getting everyone to agree on everything is not the point; but a democracy needs a functioning cultural dialog in order to work. Ours is broken.
The first part of the book talks about the principles, the second about how those principles have been betrayed by the current administration, challenged by Osama bin Laden, and undermined while corporate structures gained power incrementally, ever since the Revolution. The last part offers some changes and fixes for the problems. The reason we say everyone should read this book before the next election is that the state of our democracy should be one concern voters take to the polls. There's more at stake than your issues or your favorite candidate.
Thanks for the opportunity to be a part of your series and work.