Civil Disobedience

From TPM.

Some three dozen workers at a telemarketing call center in Indiana walked off the job rather than read an incendiary McCain campaign script attacking Barack Obama, according to two workers at the center and one of their parents.

Nina Williams, a stay-at-home mom in Lake County, Indiana, tells us that her daughter recently called her from her job at the center, upset that she had been asked to read a script attacking Obama for being “dangerously weak on crime,” “coddling criminals,” and for voting against “protecting children from danger.”

Williams’ daughter told her that up to 40 of her co-workers had refused to read the script, and had left the call center after supervisors told them that they would have to either read the call or leave, Williams says. The call center is called Americall, and it’s located in Hobart, IN.

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0 Responses to Civil Disobedience

  1. jonolan says:

    While I disagree with their beliefs, I laud their commitment to those beliefs.

  2. Roman says:

    It’s time to discuss “expectations”. In over 30+ years of following politics (on all levels), I can’t recall encountering a following like Obama’s.

    If he and the campaign aren’t careful, Obama will literally suffocate under their weight. Could this be the reason for Wed’s fireside chat?

  3. rhbee1 says:

    In a nut shell, they are the proof of Obama’s appeal.

    In another nut shell, you, jonolan, appear to be as myopic as yur brethern.

    In a third nut shell, it’s a citizen arrest of Carl Rove, it’s the many respected Republicans who have realized that Obama really is the person for the job.

    I guess it’s true. Something is really up in River City. I just watched O’Reilly interview a Florida newswoman who’s question to Biden was about the interesting link between what Obama means and what Karl Marx wrote in his analysis of society in the 1890s. (Damn that Obama is deep.)

  4. Armand Asante says:

    re:”If he and the campaign aren’t careful, Obama will literally suffocate under their weight.”

    As if Obama suffocting under the weight of his supporters is a BAD thing.

    There is one thing that Obama said at the DNC, that in my opinion, is more true then even he imagined:
    “This election has never been about me. It’s been about you”.

    We all scoffed when TIME magazine chose “you” as the man of the year, but they were probably a bit ahead of their time (no pun intended).

    This election has been about people pushing THEIR candidate up to the government, through all the layers of BS, that were up till now unbreachable.
    If up till four years ago special interests would decide an election with huge donations, the “you” campaign has shown it can trump special interests at their own game – raising even more cash.

    I think many people support Obama (amongst other reasons) BECAUSE he is black. People want to prove to themselves and the world that we can elect whomever WE want – to prove to the system that it is no longer immune.
    I’m sure some latent racism still exists in many of us. And getting a white guy (or gal) elected would definitely have been easier. But that’s not the point – this election is a show of force.

    I think Obama’s candidacy IS ahead of its time. I think America ISN’T ready for a black president middle-named Hussein. Which is all the more reason people are pushing him onwards. Because they realize in a global world America NEEDS to be ready – now!

    If Obama is a socialist/marxist (as the right claims), he is a socialist on a whole different scale. A socialism that does not preclude capitalism or a free market, but one that uses it for its own interests and benefits.
    A socialism that is bottom-up, that ironically could only thrive in a free market environment.
    And a socialism that does not want to topple capitalism either.

    This new place where Karl Marx meets Adam Smith could not have existed without today’s internet, and neither could have Obama

    It is not Obama who has an impressive campaign that harnessed the power of the internet to win. It is the campaign that recognized their candidate and offered him the path to the White House if he would only give his ears to the people.

    Also, I believe this is not only a local US election. This is the first global election. 200,000 people did not show up in Germany to support this virtual unknown on a whim, or because he looks good.
    These are the same people supporting Obama in the USA and everywhere else in the world.
    These are the people who cannot vote for the US president (tho he effects their lives and their countries’ policies), but have done their bit to support those who support Obama States-side.
    We may not be a majority in our own respective countries – but globally we are a force to be reckoned with.

    Obama has done well to define his campaign loosely at first with a simple message – change – and let the people fill in what this change needs to be.
    This campaign and campaign message was formed by the same “wisdom of crowds” that has allowed wikipedia to form and to thrive.

    So in my humble and tad idealistic opinion (I allow myself one of those every now and then), Obama would do well to keep listening to his campaign and his supporters.
    Or else he WILL drown under them – even if elected.

    In four-years time this prototypical global network campaign will have evolved and grown, and Obama’d better stay on top of it if he wants another four.

    *disclaimer: I don’t believe in some magical abilities of the internet to do all that I’ve just described.
    This only applies so long as the net’s truly free and open and neutral.
    One 9/11-ish attack on the net could well allow govts. to whip up some “emergency” bill that could crush this utopia I’ve just described.
    It’s everyone’s duty to stay on this guy’s back and constantly up the ante and make sure he does the right thing (re: Obama voting FOR the FISA bill.)
    No freebies.


  5. Fentex says:

    Deciding your employers aren’t paying you enough to compromise your integrity on one issue isn’t an act of civil disobedience – that term refers to resisting a governments edicts, not your bosses.

  6. Jon Taplin says:

    Fentex- Point well taken, but quite frankly I couldn’t come up with another word to describe the civility of the employees disobeying their boss.

  7. cmackg says:

    I’m hoping to see a little more civil disobedience on election day, after listening to this show about the methodical process of de-registering and challenging poor or black voters. I’m hoping that the first voter in Cleveland who has his right to vote challenged by a Republican party hack exercises his right to self-defense and clocks the guy.

    Maybe the police will remove the voter, but no more voters will get challenged at that polling office. These challenges are a cynical process that aims to essentially jam up a voting station enough that people choose to avoid voting rather than wait 13 hours in line to vote. Truly a sickeing effect of partisanship.

  8. Dan H says:

    BTW a similar thing happened here in West “By God” Virginia (the only state with a middle name). And it seems, in Wisconsin. Which has no middle name.,0,7974834.story

  9. Nyssa says:

    Employees disobeying their boss and walking off the job may be defined as a STRIKE.

  10. Captison says:

    Oh Dan H, you know that Wisconsin, like Madonna or Cher, needs no other name.

  11. len says:

    If you like the wisdom of crowds notion applied to games, the Institute for The Future provided one.

  12. Roman says:


    “As if Obama suffocating under the weight of his supporters is a BAD thing.”

    Suffocating implies impairment and that would be a BAD thing. What’s needed is a policy implementation strategy that somehow keeps all stakeholders satisfied (an impossible task, therefore the need to “manage expectations”).

    “There is one thing that Obama said at the DNC, that in my opinion, is more true then even he imagined: “This election has never been about me. It’s been about you”.”

    I also did a double take when Obama made that statement, but for a different reason. As I’ve noted previously, Obama is first and foremost a POLITICIAN, not the executive director of the Peace Corps on sabbatical. Successful politicians are adept at positioning themselves as their constituents’ choice, never the other way around. From Obama’s perspective, this campaign has always been about him – he found the people, not the people found him.

    “I think many people support Obama (amongst other reasons) BECAUSE he is black.”

    I wholeheartedly agree that much of Obama’s appeal is attributed to the color of his skin (actually, it’s his whole package – skin color, voice*, temperament, intelligence* etc.). It’s also the greatest campaign “expectation”. Most – regardless of ideology, hope this election marks the death knell for racism (as well as all the other “ism” cancers). However he’s complicated this expectation by running as a “race neutral” candidate. His deliberate attempt to deny race (by deflecting it to surrogates) denies him the victory lap he’s rightly earned and mutes the frontal assault needed to drive a stake into all the cancerous “isms”.

    “I think Obama’s candidacy IS ahead of its time.”

    It is – by about eight years. Eight years with HRC followed by eight years of BHO would have been more appropriate. A full term as a US Senator followed by a term or two as governor would have provided the depth he’s clearly lacking (IMO, his greatest liability). One of Obama’s more formidable challenges will be successfully implementing a “top down” versus a “bottom up” revolution. Additional time spent in the US Senate and IL governor’s office would have more fully developed an Obama leaning “grass roots” network.

    “If Obama is a socialist/marxist (as the right claims), he is a socialist on a whole different scale.”

    I would have preferred a conversation on Obama’s personal political/economic ideology (Marxism, socialism, communism, capitalism) much earlier in the campaign. At this point, it’s irrelevant because it’s too late to have any meaningful affect on the polls. After Nov 4 it’ll be fodder for right-wing talking heads and columnists. I doubt he’s seriously considering implementing policies with a socialist bent; they present too big a target for opposition to form around, and are likely contradictory to his larger goals (re-structuring the country for the next century).

    “So in my humble and tad idealistic opinion (I allow myself one of those every now and then), Obama would do well to keep listening to his campaign and his supporters.”

    Unfortunately, the next four years won’t be about the people, it’s never been about the people. It will be about Obama first – his vision, the party second – their vision (and often competing vision) and the people third – their needs. We’re not the main event, just part of the process.

  13. Dan says:

    In spite of some of the rhetoric here and elsewhere, I don’t think there’s exactly a frenzy of personality worship in this election. I’ll vote for Obama though with little enthusiasm. I’m not voting for him because I think he’ll give me a magic pony. I’m voting for him because it means that the Hillbilly Gang will finally be swept out and flushed down the drain, at least for a while.

    And replacing the Hillbilly Gang with the Clinton Gang would not be an improvement in my book.

    Roman said, “Unfortunately, the next four years won’t be about the people, it’s never been about the people. It will be about Obama first – his vision, the party second – their vision (and often competing vision) and the people third – their needs.”

    That is true…but obvious (in spite of some of the florid rhetoric here) and not terribly relevant. There are ranges and extremes, as we’ve just had demonstrated. Every administration works its will. Not every administration brags of “creating its own realities.” Not every administration brings us so near to another Great Depression. Not every administration preaches one extreme so stridenly for eight years (“free markets!”) and then at the very end goes whole-hog in the other (effectively nationalizing our financial industry). Not every administration pays lip-service to any range of issues, signs legislation, and then immediately issues “signing orders” overturning the legislation.

    Not every administration, in short, operates in such a reckless, lawless, heedless, brainless way in nearly everything it does.

    I hope that we haven’t been under the heel of Goober and Strangelove so long that we’ve come to assume that this is the best we can hope for.

  14. Not to toss out a total non sequitur, but I’m wondering what the market will do after the election. I know what we’re going through now is not ‘normal’ pre-election volatility, but what if “Obama the Socialist” (and his damn socialized water, medicine, education, etc.) wins and the market both calms down (post-election) and then rises throughout his term? Is he still a Socialist? Has Wall Street embraced Socialism? Or are we (the big smooshy, collective we) going to have to start thinking (not usually a problem in this little corner of the blogosphere) instead of slapping convenient labels on trends and stop looking through the microscope of ideology and start looking through a kaliedeoscope of powerful ideas? Just asking.

  15. Seth says:

    This example of call center workers walking out on a job that required them to lie to their fellow citizens is very encouraging. We really don’t have to put up with character assassination as a substitute for political debate.

  16. Oh, and while I’m asking stupid questions…does the Constitution establish a specifically free-market capitalist democracy? Or just a democracy (which is, in general, a capitalist friendlly form of government)?

  17. Rick Turner says:

    When you get democracy, you can see things like a Hamas victory…I don’t think that was what Bush had in mind when promoting democracy in the Middle East.

  18. Yeah, maybe that is part of the problem. If you’re truly endorsing democracy or free speech, you have to put up with the results whether you like them or not. Takes a grown up to do that, and that’s not who’s in charge here right now. Hope for change indeed.

  19. Roman says:


    On Nov 5, a long line will form outside of Obama’s door as the post-election jockeying season begins. Typically, the assembled include those aspiring to be a part of history and those wanting to advance their careers. However, for most of the electorate, Nov 5 marks a (thankful) return to life before the campaign.

    This year is different. For well over a year, millions have been permitted (encouraged) to project their expectations onto an Obama presidency. Although you may not expect a pony, many expect a color-gender-ethnic-religious blind country (world), Middle East peace, a roll back of post-9/11 laws, government investment in alternative energy, new found wealth (via redistribution), access to health insurance, an end to the war in Iraq, meaningful work, retaining their home, etc.

    Those who watch closely know it will take years to realize many of these campaign expectations. Unfortunately, we’ve grown accustomed to instant gratification in our 24/7 world and easily become cynical and agitated when asked to wait – for a pizza let alone health insurance. Managing expectations allows for the strategic implementation of policy while placating (keeping in place) as many stakeholders as possible.

  20. Dan H says:

    Amber –

    From what I know about the Constitution and the philosophies of our founding forbearers, it seems they didn’t much address what kind of economy we should have, because the rise of mass industrialization had yet to make those questions necessary. Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations at about the time of the American Revolution, but the Communist Manifesto wasn’t written until the mid-19th century. In fact I would argue that Socialism as we understand it was really a phenomenon of the late 19th and twentieth centuries; it made little sense before the advent of huge factories employing massive numbers of wage workers.

    According to what I got from Charles Beard’s seminal “An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States” the interests of the framers were primarily those of the rising mercantile class, the people who fifty or a hundred years later become the industrialists. In England the political divide of the time set those people – urban, dependent on trade – against an old order – primarily the rural landlords and aristocracy, whose power was entrenched in feudal laws and traditions. Some of the protections against government action in The U.S. Constitution and Bill Of Rights – guarantees of due process, protections against forced quartering of troops – can be read as defending the property of the middle class against the arbitrary abuses of the crown and the aristocracy.

    This context makes sense until after the civil war, but by then the economy was being transformed by industrialization. It took time for the politics to catch up. For example, Abe Lincoln was once asked if working people should have the right to form unions. He said they should, because any law against a guild or other voluntary association would be a restriction on the free trade rights of the individual. By the strikes of the 1870’s that viewpoint was largely rejected, and unions were mostly described as dangerous, subversive organizations by the people in power for another half century.

    There is an important lesson here – generals always want to fight the last war. Accusing Obama of being a socialist is not only false, it’s also dangerously beside the point. The issue of government intervention in the economy has, I think, largely been settled except for figuring out how deep the intervention should be. Pretty much everyone has a mixed economy, because it works. The rest is just battling over details.

    In the words of Richard Nixon, we’re all Keynesians now.

  21. Yeah (sigh), that’s what I thought. That was a fine lesson…especially the bit about fighting the last war. Pity the people running the elections haven’t yet (and may never) grasp it.

  22. I meant the campaigns, not the elections. Sorry, I’m still working on the intern research papers that ate my brain.

  23. Jon Taplin says:

    Roman-I actually think Armand’s vision of a bottom up campaign that is more like a social movement is the correct way to describe what’s going on with Obama.

    Your conclusion “It will be about Obama first – his vision, the party second – their vision (and often competing vision) and the people third – their needs.” is both flawed and nihilistic.

    Be open to possibility that Armand laid out.

  24. Ken Ballweg says:

    Read Klein’s article in the latest Time Mag to get a sense (that is, if you’re open to getting sense) of what the Obama presidency will be about.

    It will be different, and I think we got very lucky that he was an option. Someone willing to wrestle with reality, rather than creating alternate realities, will be refreshing

  25. Ken Ballweg says:

    PS: Amber, socialism is a trigger word in America, like Liberal. The simple meaning is the public ownership of property that is administered by the government for the good of the common weal. As it is being used by a lot of people it is used as a coded association with Stalinist Communism.

    It’s not. There have been many good uses of socialism and many bad uses. Sort of like Capitalism in that respect.

    Examples of US “socialism” include: National Parks, The Federal Reserve, National Forests, Military bases, the BPA and TVA, schools, NIMH, CDRC, US Postal Service, Amtrak, generally your water and sewage systems of your town/city, NASA and all it’s launch sites… You get the drift. Oh, oh, oh, and banks, lots of banks, and lending institutions, getting to be a lot of those….

    Anyway, it’s a silly bit of demonization when you look at the reality.

  26. Yes, I know. I was being facetious. I love my socialized water! I’m just cranky about it being turned into code for something bad…and capitalism (especially the kind this country has been ‘practicing’ [?!] lately) being code for something good. Neither is right or wrong in theory…and neither apparently works completely as theorized in practice.

  27. Ken Ballweg says:

    Yeh, it would be nice if people could think in terms of real results rather than trigger words.

    Gun control doesn’t mean taking away your gun, unless it happens to be an assault weapon with armor piercing bullets. Something most police would vote for.

    Most people don’t take the time to understand real issues, they settle for the highly abridged version. Code words have become the stock and trade of the conservative movement: activist judges, socialism, tax and spend, free market, pro life, death tax, unpatriotic, terrorists, school prayer, the institution of marriage, family values all of which can be deconstructed in a similar fashion to the reality of public ownership.

    It’s taken four generations for black and African-American to replace the casual use of “nigger” by American whites. Four generations for the outcast label to be replaced with a name a young African American can take pride in using.

    Words to have power, and sometimes the PC police were actually right.

    Maybe someday we can have a similar rehabilitation of the political trigger words the neocons have taken control of. Or better, maybe we can wind our way through the awkward path similar to the evolution of “negro”, to “people of color”, to “black”, to “African American” and find different words for socialism, abortion, and liberal. Personally I would favor Our-Businesses, Procreative-Cost-Containment, and Center-Right-Democrat in order.

  28. Roman says:


    Political campaign or a social movement? From what I’ve witnessed, Obama’s ascent can be attributed to a fairly typical political campaign, albeit with an a-typical political candidate.

    “Unfortunately, the next four years won’t be about the people, it’s never been about the people. It will be about Obama first – his vision, the party second – their vision (and often competing vision) and the people third – their needs. We’re not the main event, just part of the process.”

    Is this a “flawed” and “nihilistic” (correct word?) conclusion? No, it’s a realistic and pragmatic conclusion…unless

    Perhaps a social movement is appropriate for harnessing the campaign’s post-Nov 4 inertia. Something’s needed to focus and prompt those inside the bubble. Without it, it’s likely Ms. Marcus’ concerns (see below) will become a reality.

    Ruth Marcus’ column “‘A New Kind of Politics’? Good Luck With That.” appears in today’s Washington Post.

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