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Op-Ed: What creates a political activist? Special

By Duane Buell     May 20, 2013 in Politics
I had to know what it takes to create a political activist. Twitter is an amazing social network and it's where I ran into Diane Atkins, organizer for the Impeach Obama project, someone I suspected was a firebrand, I was right. Native New Yorker to boot!
What creates a political activist and fires them up to create a movement?
That was what I asked Diane Atkins the other day. Diane put up a Facebook page to get people involved in a march on Washington D.C to Impeach president Barack Obama because the recent scandals pushed her to the edge. It amazes me about the power of social media, even today with the internet becoming a new medium creating citizen journalists and activists who feel compelled to do something, make their voices heard in a world that drown out the smaller voices whose message is nonetheless important. I met Diane on Twitter, a social media platform where anyone can post about whatever they choose in 140 characters or less. She is one of those new citizen activists I had to contact because I had questions myself: What does it take to make a citizen activist? What is that point where ordinary people get involved because enough is enough? So I called her, I had to. Something about her told me was going to meet what you call a firebrand. We had a long talk the evening before she went on the Carl Boyd "Nothing but the truth" Radio talk show out of Nashville TN on radio 99.7 Fm News talk. Carl Boyd's program airs Sunday 3-6 PM. Diane Atkins is a definite Native New Yorker as I found out when we began our conversation, that New Yorker accent was unmistakable.
Me: Great! So Diane, if I can ask you, what was your breaking point? What was the point where you threw your hands up and said; I've had enough of this!
Diane: It was toward the end of his (Barack Obama) second term when the election cycle was going on and I felt like I wanted Ron Paul because I felt like he was such a breath of fresh air and he re-energized people and maybe some of his ideas are not quite mainstream, but he was a breath of fresh air. But Barack Obama is going on TV and on The View and never once during this time, met with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is our only real true ally in the middle east, and he refuses to meet with him, but he has time for the Muslim brotherhood members and even Ahmadinejad (leader of Iran) and it was a disgrace. Then Benghazi happened and anyone with a gut feeling for what they were trying to put out there was saying, that's not the truth. That was the breaking point. And Ron Paul or Rand Paul said at the time that we have to stop giving aid to these countries who are our sworn enemies. Why are we giving them money? It's not going to the people where women were brutalized and the people were being hurt, it was going to governments to build up their military. It's not like we have it when we're Trillions of dollars in debt and then he went to the U.N. and I thought, you know what, he's going to the General Assembly and I'm going out there and i don't belong to any Tea Party groups or anything like that and NPR reported there is one lone voice crying out to Impeach Obama. And you know why? Because that was a breaking point when you leave Americans to die, you have a big problem and now some eight months or so later when you have all these witnesses coming out to testify to what really happened and all these emails coming out, we're starting to be able to back it up. I don't believe for a minute that in any Administration the president can sit there in the White House and not know anything. He doesn't know and (Attorney General) Eric holder doesn't know and Hillary (Clinton, State Department) doesn't know, well, it's, ugh, just impossible and I just can't stomach it. These people in our military get in harms way for us and even die for us and to not even go and try to save them? It doesn't mean you can always save them, you have to try anyway.
Me: So now that I know what gets you fired up and gets you involved, how did you happen to meet Carl Boyd? Diane: Well, actually I'm amazed at Twitter, and I started going on it when the election cycle of 2012 was going on it was a great outlet to voice your opinions and for other people to voice their opinions and you can follow who you like and meet similar like minds and Mr Boyd ended up following me when people re tweet or what have you and Mr Boyd followed me and he actually approached the subject before of doing something like a march in D.C via twitter and then we spoke on the phone and agreed to get as many people as possible to attend and now months later with the whistle blowers on Benghazi, we said, that's enough. He's got his own regional talk show based out of Nashville, and he's on I heart radio. I said well, who ever you can get 'cause you have a wider audience than me and I'm only one person and I don't belong to any groups and basically that's how we got started. I called pastor James David Manning of the Atlah Worldwide church and he is very outspoken. I'll be contacting every organization we can and contacting everyone we can.
Me: So you said you used to be a Democrat. How long ago were you a Democrat and what changed your mind? Diane: I registered as a Democrat as soon as I could vote all the way up to 2008. I actually wanted Hillary Clinton to get the nomination, but when Barack Obama got it I wasn't surprised. I can understand that for the first time for a vast group of Americans that this was the first time they ever had a white skinned person run the country and that many voted for him on that alone. I can understand that. But Barack Obama didn't have any experience and many people followed his career in the senate, I didn't, but when he got the nomination, something in my stomach didn't feel right and I thought I just can't get on board with this man. What impressed me more about McCain is that he was a prisoner of war and stood up for this country. That deserved respect and Barack Obama came out of nowhere. I don't feel Obama had any real issues and put out a solid platform and I was going to vote for McCain. That's when it started for me. In the 2012 election I thought the most important thing was to vote Barack Obama out of office so I chose to cast a vote for Mitt Romney even though I would have preferred casting my vote for Ron Paul. I really wanted to vote for Ron Paul, but he didn't get the nomination. I know there was some nastiness going on at the RNC (Republican National Committee) and some people were saying well he's going to be a write in candidate anyway. But it was apparent at the end of this mans (Obama) first term that this man had so little regard for our constitution, for our rule of law, for the American way of life in general, it just seemed like he wanted to pander to our enemies and to push aside anyone who dared say this is not us, not what our country is about. I just feel in a very severe way was he is anti American and anti Christian. I'm really sorry that our first African American president wasn't someone like a Herman Cain or Allen West, someone who really stands for what is best for and about America. I feel that Obama just spits in the eye of someone like Martin Luther King and it's just disgraceful. When I see what this man has done to this country it just breaks my heart, really breaks my heart.
Me: I hear that a lot. Has your position in organizing this march on Capitol Hill to Impeach Obama affected your relationships with friends or caused you any blow back? Diane: Well my sister thinks I'm crazy, but she's cool with it. I haven't told my brother who voted Republican in 2008, but voted for Obama in 2012 and we had big arguments about it. He works in a Union and that's another big aspect of the Democratic party. When I held the impeach Obama sign at he U.N., there is this underlying tension like is it a matter of race that makes you want him impeached? It does come up and that is an undertone for some in the black community who can't get past that. There are people who can't get past it not being about his skin color and seriously looking at his policies and see what they are doing to America. But there are a lot of people beginning to see that now even though they want to be on the right side of history.
Me: Do you feel the main stream media is turning a blind eye or being willfully blind to what they see?
Diane: I really think there is a lot of that in the main stream media that they don't want to be the first to report anything wrong about the first black president in history. They're afraid it will make them look like they are on the wrong side of history if they actually report objectively and do their job. But they can no longer control the narrative because of people such as yourself who are willing to investigate and get the story and the citizen journalist and bloggers are not going in to journalism and your news media is still going into their "All hail to the chief" attitude. The main stream media just doesn't want to do it. In good conscience they really shouldn't be turning a blind eye to it, but many still are. Your not getting both sides of the story.
Me: What are you seeing in your area now that scandals like Benghazi, the IRS and the seizing of phone records that belong to the AP? That one really seemed to resonate with younger voters under 35 which would have been a Democratic issue had Democrats not been the ones seizing records of the Associated Press without due process? Diane: Lol! That's a really good thing and its a reason why this is a really good time for a march like this while issues like the AP and Benghazi and the IRS is trending because now people can see with their own eyes things that can no longer be denied. Sure there are some people who will think what's the big deal if the IRS targeted the Tea Party, but that's disturbing because it goes against everything this country was founded on. Some people don't realize just how close they are to giving up their freedom by not getting involved and if there was any time to get involved, this is it. It may not be a big deal to them that conservatives were targeted, but just the fact that it can be done is what is so dangerous and people are finally coming to realize that and with the phone records seizure of the AP, just because we have the Patriot Act doesn't mean it gave the government permission to take the phone records of all those reporters including their personal information. It's an overreach of the highest order because the freedom of the press and a violation of it is another aspect of this Administration. You can't have that because that is what a police state is. The government controls everything including the media and if they don't want you to see something you don't and you no longer have any control. That's how it creeps into a society and this Administration is spearheading it and it's got to stop. That's why people are taking to blogs and taking it to the media and it has to stop. Their fed up with it and this is a good thing. Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it, but these socialist countries have tried it and it never happened here so most people don't understand it. You can only sweep so much dirt under the rug until, the lump gets so big you trip over it.
Me: Would you like to see this cause actually get a 501c4 and become a group with some sort of political power?
Diane: Well I find myself being drawn into more political discussion and I can see the value in something like that. It's not my goal at this point, but it's not where my head is at right now and I'm just concentrating on getting people to Washington D.C. but if it evolved into that I would not be opposed to it. If it seems like enough people were genuinely interested in coming together for a common cause and not push their own agendas.
Me: How would you handle people who wanted to get into a group with the idea that they would want to grind their own agendas? Diane: No one can be all things to all people and we all have our own agendas because those are goals, but I would hope that if we get to that point that we would be a mash of people who's priority would be a common cause instead of their own agendas. Lets get enough people together to find enough common ground that we can start to make incremental changes, that would be alright with me.
ME: Do you think Libertarians are better at coming together for a common cause better than Republicans or Democrats do? Diane: Well, I say yes, and no. I think that since Libertarians not wanting to put restrictions on people's lives that it has an attraction like that. People on the far right and far left will never be completely comfortable with Libertarianism because they see themselves compromising their core beliefs.
Me: Do you think there is a big misunderstanding about Libertarianism when the main stream media wants to portray them as people who run around with no clothes on smoking pot? Diane: Well I think the main stream media wants to put them into that light because it serves a purpose for them. I think libertarianism is much closer to what the founding fathers had in mind. But I think that there is a danger if the aspect of morality gets lost and our country has to get back to a morality base.
Me: Do you see yourself more Democrat, Libertarian or Republican or Conservative? Diane: Well I've never been a Republican and maybe because I've always thought of Republicans as those right wing guys with the stiff upper lip and I don't really think that's the case, now that I see what the GOP is really all about. I say I'm more conservative with some Libertarian in me. I feel that conservatism aligns more with my needs and I'm not a strict conservative because I have some Libertarian in me.
Me: When's the last time you got together with Carl Boyd? You said he has his own regional radio show right?
Diane: Well Carl is a regional talk show host and we haven't got any real numbers of how many people will show up. I know he's trying to get a hold of some producers who can help out and I don't know if we are going to get 5 or 500 people interested in the Impeach Obama Project. It was Carl's idea to go to Capital Hill in front of Congress that it would stimulate impeachment proceedings, that would be the hope.
Me: Has this gone far enough that Carl might actually be broadcasting from the demonstration himself or filming the event? Diane: I don't think we have really gotten to that point yet because this was so organic and off the cuff were just hoping with such a short time between now and then we can get enough people involved to make a showing at June 14th and it could become a more than one time event if enough people are interested in taking part.
Me: Well thank you for talking with me today. Diane: Oh thank you. I appreciate all the help we can get to draw attention to this protest because time is so short. this just happened where Carl and I decided we had enough we didn't want to tread on Memorial day because we didn't want to compete with our veterans. This is all rather organic and I'm really interested in seeing where it goes. but thank you and good night.
Since Diane and I talked, She went on Carl Boyd's radio program: "Nothing but the truth" and I was lucky enough to be one of the first callers to help promote Diane and this project. During the radio interview with Diane, her and Carl found a lot of people who really wanted to go but couldn't because of money issues. There is talk of a fund being set up where people can contribute to help those who want to join this cause and this reporter will keep you informed once there is a place where people can donate. I get the feeling Carl Boyd is something of a firebrand himself and the time I spent listening to "Nothing but the truth" was interesting! Carl had to cut the mics from people a couple of times who didn't agree with his support of this project, but he did want their participation. Nothing but the truth is on Sundays from 3 to 6 PM out of Nashville Tennessee on 99.7 FM If you want more information about joining this cause, you can go to face book by clicking here. The phone line for Carl Boyd's "Nothing but the Truth" radio show is 615-737-9986. You can get to Carl's website by clicking here.
I have a distinct feeling we will hear and see more of Diane Atkins. And I have a better idea of what it takes to create a political activist. If there is any way I can make it, this reporter will go to Capital Hill on Flag Day June 14th, 2013 to cover the event!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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