April 10, 2013. Little Rock. Free & Equal, the independent and third party voter advocacy group, has announced they are hosting a rally and festival in Little Rock, AR in June. The theme of the event is putting an end to the two-party stranglehold on America, our government and our election process. Confirmed speakers already include famous activists spanning all wings of the political spectrum from Ralph Nader on the left to Sheriff Mack on the right.
Readers may remember Christina Tobin and Free & Equal. They, along with co-moderator Larry King, brought us the only nationally-televised 2012 Presidential debate that invited all six candidates with a mathematical chance of winning. With Barack Obama and Mitt Romney refusing to participate, the remaining candidates debated the real issues in America, those typically blacked-out by the country’s corporate-owned media.
Free & Equal
Aside from the main Presidential debate in 2012, televised live across the country on RT America, Tobin and Free & Equal also brought us the head-to-head debate between the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein. In 2008, the group also sponsored and televised the Presidential election’s only debate that invited all the candidates. Now, Christina Tobin and her organization are holding what looks to be a gigantic rally to declare, as the program’s headline proclaims, ‘the beginning of the end of the two party system.’
“This festival will be the kick-off event for a peaceful, powerful and positive movement,” Tobin tells supporters on Free & Equal’s website, “We will ignite a true grassroots effort to break the stranglehold of the two-party system. We intend to reform the US electoral process once and for all. This festival is the beginning of the solution to the political status quo problem.”
United We Stand Festival
It’s probably fitting that the theme for the event is ‘United We Stand’. It was independent Presidential candidate Ross Perot who first launched his political activism with his self-funded group by the same name in 1992 – United We Stand America. Perot went on to challenge Bill Clinton and George HW Bush for the Presidency, shocking the establishment by actually leading in national polls at one point during the campaign.
This author remembers that era well, having been one of the first members of United We Stand America, moments after Perot’s announcement on none other than CNN’s Larry King Live. That only goes to show just how long and difficult this fight has been. That was 21 years ago. But then just as now, people like Larry King, Ralph Nader, Larry Pratt, Jim Tobin, your author, and even probably a young Christina Tobin were in the middle of the battle.
Tobin, who herself was managing petition drives and fighting off establishment legal challenges to her father Jim Tobin’s election petitions when she was still a teenager, is one person future and potential candidates would do well to listen to. Defending her father’s Libertarian candidacy, as well as his running mate’s, she won and has been an authority on independent and third party ballot access ever since.
Among the festivities scheduled for the June rally in Little Rock are musical performances, comedians and speeches by some of the most active individuals in the movement for political rights. Headlining the event is five-time Presidential candidate and famed consumer safety advocate Ralph Nader. Nader is tentatively scheduled to speak to the crowd via Skype and the arena’s video displays.
In addition to Nader, confirmed participants also include producer Michel O’Donnell, musician Jordan Page, singer-songwriter Tatiana Moroz, radio personality Josh Tolley, comedian Elizabeth Imus-Zero, television journalist Amber Lyon, PANDAA founder Dan Johnson, Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt, former Sheriff Richard Mack, and USC Provost and Syrian journalist Dr. Maytha Alhassen.
While many were probably hoping Arkansas was chosen as a way to protest Wal-Mart and their many anti-American business practices, Christina Tobin explained what the real reason was for choosing Little Rock. Echoing the unity among all opposition parties and activists that this publication so often promotes, the event organizer insists it was her own experience with such acts of unity that made her want to come back to this location.
“Arkansas was a natural choice for the location of the UWS Festival,” Christina Tobin explained, “While participating in an End the Fed rally in Little Rock last November, I met an incredible and diverse group of people from all parties; Tea Party, Occupy Arkansas, Students for Liberty, Libertarian, Green, as well as Democrat and Republican. They all were willing to set aside their differences and unite behind the need for electoral reform, to inspire others to peacefully end ballot barriers and create genuinely free elections. That is what Free & Equal and the United We Stand festival is all about.”
The United We Stand Festival is scheduled for June 22 at Verizon Arena in Little Rock, Arkansas. For more information, visit FreeAndEqual.org.