On October 22, 2010, Peter Ackerman received an award at a gala fundraiser in New York City for Breakthrough TV, a human rights media non-profit. These were the ticket prices:
$50,000.00 Visionary Table
$25,000.00 Luminary Table
$15,000.00 Icon Table
$1,500.00 Individual Ticket – Priority Seating
$1,000.00 Individual Ticket – Preferred Seating
$500.00 Individual Ticket
Ackerman gave an acceptance speech connecting his academic work on nonviolent insurrections with his political work as Chairman, President and sole funder of Americans Elect, a 501c4 corporation with the goal of nominating and electing its own President and Vice President of the United States of America in 2012. A complete transcript of this speech is below:
The thought’s that through empathy, energy and determination you can deal with dysfunctional political, social and economic systems from the inside out to reduce depredation on human rights around the world. My experience is a little bit different. When I do this work on civil resistance, which is what people do when they’re living under oppression but have no military option, so they use strikes, boycotts and mass protests, what you see is the need, particularly in authoritarian systems, to have some kind of external power to change a system that’s dysfunctional.
So, for example, to illustrate, if you were living in an authoritarian system 35-40 years ago, you had two choices. You were either quiescent or you were part of a violent insurrection. Now, we’ve done this study, there’s been over 200 violent insurrections since 1900. The success rate on those insurrections has been 23%. But in almost every case, when there’s been a victory the people who undertook the insurrection said, “Well, gee, we took all the risks so we’ll take all the power,” and it virtually never ends up in a democratic result. And when they fail, which is the overwhelming majority of the time, the people who suffer are the civilian population, like Chechnya in 1995-2000.
So there developed over time the idea in the last three and a half decades that if people come together and use tactics that are extremely aggressive but are not designed to kill their opponents — strikes, boycotts and mass protests — they can attack a layer of loyalty right below the very senior authoritarian rulers that basically undermines the pillars that support the regime needs to stay in power. And since 35-36 years ago there’s now been over 50 countries in the world that have transitioned from authoritarian rule to democracy through tactics of civil resistance.
Now, recently I’ve been involved with another system that I think most here would agree is dysfunctional: our own political system. And there are many reasons for it, and I won’t go into that in the short time I have, but what I am undertaking as the Chairman of the Americans Elect initiative is an effort to create an online virtual primary and convention to nominate a Presidential – Vice President ticket that will bridge the center of American public opinion and that will be on the ballot in all 50 states in 2012. What I think will happen again, just like in civil resistance, we’ll have a new force that will come to play in a system that is struggling and that is giving so little satisfaction to the American people.
Now in closing, what I’ve left for you to take is we have a little video on civil resistance, it’s a 12 minute video that I think you’ll find is quite informative. It’s been seen in 80 countries and in 14 languages, and some material on Americans Elect. I want to thank you again for the award. I’m really quite honored to receive it and I appreciate the work that Breakthrough does. Thank you very much.
The speech tells us a few things:
* Although Americans Elect representatives are not speaking publicly about their efforts, they are speaking about it privately.
* Although Americans Elect has published no more than one perfunctory web page to publicly describe its efforts, Americans Elect is distributing literature in select, exclusive environments.
* The Chairman, President, and sole funder of Americans Elect sees the effort as an extension of his work in nonviolent insurrection.
* Americans Elect is described as an avowedly political project, in conflict with the conditions of its no-disclosure 501c4 status.
* Americans Elect is described both as a democratic process and a centrist political effort. This is a tension between two not entirely compatible goals that has surfaced elsewhere in Americans Elect documentation.
If the audience at this exclusive gala has access to Americans Elect literature, so should the American people. I’ll send a certified letter tomorrow, asking Americans Elect to share with the public what they’ve been distributing privately.