It was a time of stalemate, gridlock, divisiveness, and polarization. The nation plunged into greater crisis and dysfunction as the list of things which weren’t getting done grew longer. The survival of democracy and America itself were increasingly in doubt.
In this political drama, a bright, young, idealistic, Green Party candidate, in his bid for the congressional seat of a very conservative district in Ohio, teams with a beautiful, fiery African-American intern to combat the slick deceptions and ruthless tactics of a sweet-talking right wing incumbent.
This is the inspiring story of a small committed group of activists who either never knew or forgot the meaning of the word ‘impossible’.
Additionally, “An Unlikely Truth” offers a powerful alternative to politics-as-usual in the form of a take-no-prisoners electoral strategy.
Targeted Age Group:: 16 – 100
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have been long frustrated with the lack of proper representation by our elected officials and the marginalization of minor party candidates. The prevailing message by main stream media is that this is how things are and it’s not going to change. I strongly believe democracy can be saved but it requires outside-the-box thinking, focused political activism, and a fresh narrative, so that people can see what it possible. I decided to write a novel which presented this potential for change as the anchor for an engaging David vs. Goliath drama.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The title, a play on words, created Martin Truth, the main character. I modeled him after a number of progressive idealists I’ve met over the course of my life. His incumbent opponent is a composite of many established politicians, all successful, persuasive, full of hopeful if empty promises, mostly owned and controlled by rich campaign donors. They’re not very hard to find. Congress is full of them. Jamila, the African-American graduate student from Rutgers who saves Martin’s campaign, is a composite of Angela Davis, a young Cynthia McKinney, and pop star Rihanna. Passion, commitment, genius and a lot of sex appeal. If I weren’t married, I’d love to date someone like her.
They were just beginning the flight testing of a new domestic surveillance drone. It wasn’t a big craft but was very agile and carried twelve gallons of aviation fuel. It had been in the air only ten minutes.
Now panic filled the control room.
Drone Pilot: “Shit. We’ve lost it.”
Flight Safety Commander: “What’s going on here?”
Software Systems Engineer: “We’ve lost control of the craft, sir.”
Project Manager: “Have we got a comm link?”
Communications Engineer: “We’ve got a clean pingback. It’s not the link.”
Flight Safety Commander: “Are we getting nav data?”
Software Systems Engineer: “Not a byte. Nothing’s getting in or out.”
Project Manager: “It looks like the onboard processor locked up. We got no data. No control. But we’re tracking it on radar.”
Flight Safety Commander: “I say we shoot the fucker down.”
Project Manager: “That’s pretty risky. Besides, can we scramble that fast?”
Software Systems Engineer: “What happened to the backup processor? It should have automatically kicked over. It has a basic command set embedded in the firmware. At least we could have landed the bird.”
Communications Engineer: “No way to know. It’s not telling us anything.”
Flight Safety Commander: “Where is this flying turd right now?”
Drone Pilot: “Radar has it heading due north. It’s out in farm country right now. But it’s got enough fuel to keep going for another eleven hours.”
Project Manager: “It’s barns and cows all the way to the Michigan border.”
Two minutes later, it became apparent the drone was not going to Michigan. As if it had a mind of its own, it banked into a slow turn and reversed its direction by almost exactly 180º.
Just after re-entering the edge of Dayton’s northernmost suburbs, the pilotless aircraft began acting very strangely. It dipped, then climbed, banked left, then right, then left again. Abruptly it accelerated, then slowed to near stall speed. Suddenly it picked up speed again and was now in the airspace of Dayton International Airport. Air Traffic Control had been alerted and all flights were temporarily suspended. It continued flying erratically as it headed toward the northern suburb of Vandalia.
Vandalia was a rather non-descript, middle-class community of a little over 12,000 people. It boasted three elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school.
Murlin Heights Elementary School sat in the midst of grassy lawns just north of beautiful Dayton Memorial Park. West of the school’s courtyard was a recreation area with swings, two slides, a teeter-totter, monkey bars, plus a large paved zone for kickball, tag, and general frolicking.
Lunch recess had just finished when the drone crashed into the school grounds. All of the children were back in the school building on their way to their homeroom classes.
Jessica Meyers had left her backpack at the foot of the monkey bars and had rushed back outside to retrieve it.
She never heard it or saw it coming. The drone had less than a minute before gone nose up into a steep climb, stalled, started to tumble back to earth, then inexplicably cut its engine, and dove nose first. By the time it hit the ground, it was doing over 250 mph.
The drone exploded when it impacted the ground only ten feet from little Jessica. She was immediately enveloped in the fireball that resulted from gallons of aviation fuel being set ablaze. The entire surface of her body was burned and she died only hours after being rushed to the hospital.
The death of eight-year-old Jessica Meyers instantly became the main story across the entire nation. Every television channel, internet news site, radio talk show, print and digital news source was filled 24/7 with interviews, commentary, video clips, and sound bites which captured the grief all of America was feeling.
The President went on TV and made a short but powerful address to the nation. He looked close to tears as he talked about his own children and how when he heard about Jessica, he felt like he had lost one of his own daughters. But then he closed his address with a gross misrepresentation and a puerile pandering to patriotism.
“While it in no way mitigates the enormous grief we are now feeling as a people, nor justifies the loss of an innocent life, let us understand that this is the price we too often pay in the ongoing War on Terror — a deplorable, heartbreaking price in this case — in order to defeat savage fanatics who have no hesitation taking precious innocent lives, like those of Jessica. We must all of us devote ourselves to vanquishing this enemy, redoubling our every effort to fight the bloodthirsty extremists in the world who are determined to destroy the American Way of Life. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to little Jessica Meyers.”
Not that he expected anyone to notice, Martin immediately issued a statement.
“On The Tragic Death of Jessica Meyers”
This transmission is from the Campaign Headquarters
of Martin Truth for Congress – Ohio 3rd Congressional
District, and is for immediate publication.
Our sorrow, our lamentations, our prayers go out to the family of Jessica Meyers, whose short life ended in a horrifying tragedy which defies all comprehension and denies any justification.
It is painful beyond words to consider the loss of this innocent, young girl. Jessica Meyers died in an incident so random, yet so predictable, given what dangerous times we live in.
That’s all we can manage to say right now. That’s all any of us in our shared grief can say right now.
Three days later, however, Martin did have more to say — a lot more.
Posted on martintruthforcongress.com, issued as a press release, videotaped and posted on You Tube, forwarded to every media outlet, news corporation, press site, public blog, letters to the editor, public opinion forum, and even printed the old fashioned way on hundreds of fliers, it was an incendiary editorial essay expressing his total outrage over the tragedy and the spin that had been put on it:
Little Jessica Meyers Did Not Have To Die
by Martin Truth, Candidate for U.S. Congress,
State of Ohio – 3rd Congressional District
I need to take issue with what the President said the other night on national TV.
This is not to politicize this painful tragedy. The President has already done this. I only write this because my conscience demands that the truth be brought to light.
The President claimed that Jessica was a victim of the War on Terror. This is a boldface lie. She was a victim of the war on us. Yes, us. You and I.
It was glossed over by the major media reports of the incident. But the pilotless drone being tested at Wright-Patterson AFB was not a drone for use on the battlefield, or in any of the theaters of operation where we have established a military presence — Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Syria, anywhere in the Middle East, or our bases in Europe, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan. This drone was a domestic reconnaissance plane. Let me repeat that: a domestic reconnaissance aircraft, to be flown over America.
In straight talk, a domestic reconnaissance aircraft is for spying on Americans. Let me be clear: This drone is being developed for spying on you and I.
The militarization of this country is out of control. The military in conjunction with and as directed by the Commander-In-Chief of our armed services — meaning the President of the United States — is running amok! That’s what little Jessica Meyers is a casualty of.
Ask yourself this: With reconnaissance drones like the one that killed this poor little girl, designed not for battlefields or for fighting terrorists in the War on Terror (as the President disingenuously claimed), but for spying on U.S. citizens right here on U.S. soil, who are they protecting us from?
And who will protect us from them?
When our government decides it must listen to our phone calls, read our email, and keep track of our every movement with Big Brother domestic surveillance drones, all of which is currently being done in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’, this is not an America I recognize anymore.
I am sad and insulted that the President would use the horrible and tragic events surrounding the death of little Jessica Meyers to promote a lie to the American people. We deserve better.
Jessica Meyers did not have to die. The development, testing and deployment of military equipment for the sole purpose of spying on American citizens is both against the time-honored traditions and values of our country, and in direct conflict with the clear intent and language of our Constitution. Such a drone is illegal and should have never been built, much less flown on that fateful day.
Jessica Meyers did not have to die.
Jessica Meyers should not have died.
That drone was not for the War on Terror.
That drone was for a war on American citizens.
Little Jessica Meyers was killed by military madness.
We deserve better. We want an America we can recognize.
Let’s truly honor the memory of Jessica, and all of the soldiers who have died in the struggle to defend our country. Let’s work together to restore democracy and rule of law to our great nation.
Let’s start now before we all end up like little Jessica Meyers.
Let’s reclaim in her name the free and democratic America little Jessica Meyers should have grown up in.
May her precious and innocent soul rest in peace.
When Martin read it to the campaign staff, there was unanimous agreement on two things: First, this editorial essay could turn out to be political suicide. And second, it had to go out. Campaigning and winning elections be damned. It said what had to be said.
“Martin, this is both brilliant and courageous.”
“The gloves are off. Gardner’s either going to shit his pants or have you assassinated.”
“I hear Guantanamo is lovely this time of year.”
Everyone dug in and for the next 24 hours they sent it everywhere it could be sent.
Then they waited.
They didn’t have to wait long.
Among those media outlets which were part of their blitz were OpEdNews, Truthout, Buzzflash, The Nation, Truthdig, Counterpunch, and a host of other progressive publications. These not only published it but made it a featured article. As a result, news aggregators picked up on it. Huffington Post gave it a prominent spot on its main page. So did Aljazeera English Edition. Soon it was everywhere: CNN, Great Britain’s The Guardian, BBC.com, even the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times.
Within only 48 hours, they had their answer. It was obvious they had done the right thing. With the predictable exception of the extreme right wing wackjobs like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, the response was overwhelmingly positive.
Suddenly, the phone at Martin Truth For Congress was again ringing off the hook. The two incoming land lines were proving inadequate by a factor of ten. Local news stations sent crews to their office for on-the-scene coverage of the man who had all America talking. Even NPR wanted Martin to participate in a national “audio roundtable”, bringing in experts from think tanks, universities, and of course, the R&D sector of the Air Force who oversaw drone design and development.
Martin couldn’t keep up with all of the requests for interviews and additional comment. Rather than spread himself too thin and risk muddying his message, he stuck closely to a brief but hard-hitting prepared statement:
“The facts speak for themselves. While the security of this nation is paramount, the authority to protect American citizens is being turned against them. We need to ask some vital questions about what is going on with our democracy — why our cherished freedoms are under assault. Ask the tough questions of your elected representatives. Demand some real answers, not politically correct mumbo-jumbo. Then reply by voting responsibly in the upcoming election. What have we learned from this heartbreaking incident? It’s simple. We don’t need more eavesdropping, wiretaps, cameras, operatives, drones. What we need is to stop wasting money of all of this onerous and illegal junk, and start putting people back to work. We need to stop constantly talking about war and start talking about how we can create a more peaceful world. Most of all, we need to prevent horrible tragedies like the death of little Jessica Meyers and restore an America where it’s safe to be in a school playground.”
Even taking Martin out of the equation, it was blatantly obvious that Gardner’s chest-thumping reference to drone development at Wright-Patterson had backfired in a big way. He saved what face he could with a carefully crafted public statement.
PRESS RELEASE: From the Office of Matt Gardner
U.S. Congressman – State of Ohio 3rd Congressional District
While I am profoundly saddened by the death of eight-year-old Jessica Meyers, our shared grief also demands decisive action. As a sitting member of the House of Representatives Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, I will recommend that Congress initiate a full investigation into what happened in this fateful incident. We will determine if safety procedures were properly in place and faithfully executed. We will leave no stone unturned and accept no excuses. If the individuals conducting the test flight of the aircraft were responsible for its failure, they will be held accountable. Moreover, to prevent such a tragic event from ever occurring in the future, we will determine if sufficient and appropriate safeguards are properly configured and fully operative. As your congressman, it is my duty to do everything in my power to make this district a comfortable and safe community for you and your family.
Vis-à-vis the media coup that resulted from Martin’s audacious and assertive condemnation of domestic drone development, Gardner’s investigative initiative seemed paltry and apologetic. It was received with wary reserve.
At least for the present, Martin had struck a serious blow to Matt Gardner and put him on the defensive.
But the harsh reality was that this close to an election, advantage can be gained and lost in just a matter of hours. Overall, it was impossible to say where things really stood. The public had a frustratingly short attention span and sometimes seemed to suffer from total amnesia. Martin had without question benefited from a lot of publicity the last two months. It had been a mixed bag, some things a reflection of his competence and doggedness as a campaigner, others purely serendipitous.
He obviously had worked hard to do well in the televised debate. Whatever good came out of his victory was deserved. Subsequently, Martin had drawn tasteless and ill-conceived criticism from Gardner for his Retooling America For Peace, which in the end translated into more legitimately earned recognition.
But the attempt to assassinate him and the crash of a malfunctioning drone were unforeseen and unwelcome events which had ultimately also strengthened his hand. Martin felt guilty that the death of Jessica Meyers ended up playing to his advantage. It was a cruel and fateful twist in the already serpentine road of his campaign. At the same time, he did say what needed to be said. He exposed exactly what that drone was designed to do, how it equated to the wanton and illegal assault on the constitutional rights of Americans, and how in a tragic way the loss of a young girl’s life was symbolic of the loss of much of what had made America a great country. Martin brought to light the frivolous and dangerous direction the militarization of the country was taking us. Regardless of how he did in the election, perhaps some good would come of it. Certainly he could hope. It was not hyperbole anymore to suggest lives were at stake. Or that democracy itself was on the line.
Even so, politics for too long to remember had become but another entertainment sport in the three-ring circus of main stream media. The pundit clowns and smarmy bubble heads were as remorseless as they were heavy-handed at reducing the most profound contest of ideas into churlish cat fights, at pandering to the public’s ravenous appetite for scandal and innuendo, at demoting both the message and the messenger to the ranks of reality show narratives and laugh-track enhanced sitcoms, at turning every contest for public office into either petty soap opera or bloodlust cage fighting.
This was the reality within which the electoral process now took place.
As the month of September closed, the ringing of the phone lines at campaign headquarters returned to a more normal level, a desultory pace which offered not much encouragement.
Entering the crucial final weeks, the Martin Truth For Congress campaign was flying blind. Operating in a total vacuum. Polls, particularly at a local level, were notoriously inaccurate. Besides, Martin’s campaign couldn’t afford the time or money to do polling right now anyway. Any questions about his popularity, his perceived viability as a candidate, even his name recognition, would have to wait. They had a strategy mapped out. As far as they could tell, it was a sound strategy. Even that was a moot point. At this late stage, it was their only strategy. Their only shot.
This was it.
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