Democracy – Is it still possible to rebuild America’s democratic promise for the greater good of all? Over 100 progressive organizations are merging April 2nd in Philadelphia, and some marching the 140 miles to Washington D.C. with high hopes of accomplishment.
Democracy Spring will be “Louder than words,” says In These Times writer, Jessica Kozik, of the ten-day hike to demand an end to the influence of big money in politics. Democracy Spring and its sister group, Democracy Awakening, are calling on Congress to ensure the 2016 elections aren’t sold to the highest bidder. “The Koch brothers’ dark money network alone is expected to dole out $900 million, more than double what it spent during the last presidential election cycle,” she tells us.
Democracy Spring marchers will occupy the Capitol and congressional office, and deliver an ultimatum:
“Pass meaningful reform, or we won’t leave. The campaign is backing currently stalled bills that would combat voter suppression, implement public financing for elections and intruduce a constitutional amendent to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. More than 1,500 people – including actor Mark Ruffalo and Harvard professor, Lawrence Lessig – have pledged to turn up the heat by risking arrest in the sit-in. Organizers hope that if thousands join, Congress might yet act to save democracy for millions,” says Kozik.
Jim Hightower, rabble-rouser, writer/publisher of The Hightower Lowdown and twice or more keynote speaker at Petaluma’s Progressive Festival (once invited by me so I could TALK with him more!) is calling for actual democracy in our democratic union – and will join the march on Washington to move us off the dime and towards what we claim to believe in – democracy – government by the people, of the people, for the people. Nothing in there about extra rights for millionaires, banks, political PACS. Not a nod to powerbrokers; the nod is to US citizens and even those who working toward citizenship. Democracy doesn’t work without people who work for it; sorry to say.
“Let’s shift from complaining about plutocratic corruption of our country’s elections to stopping it,” Hightower says. “The jig is up, and my time has come. I’m about to be arrested. They’ll be hauling me away mid-April.”
Five “strong groups – 99Rise, Avaaz, Democracy Matters, Energy Action Coalition and the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union – form a steering committee for this action.
“Among those who’ve pledged to put their butts on the line” are Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry’s, actor, Mark Ruffalo, author, Frances Moore Lappe’, Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks, Winnie Wong of Occupy Wallstreet and many more will be standing up for democracy by sitting in.” Wow!!! I’m ALMOST ready to buy a plane ticket, though spring on our Oasis Farm is a compelling reason to stay home. Where would I stay? I’ll do some research.
The Democracy Spring crowd has come up with an Equal Voice for All Pledge to test the committment of politicians who are supposed to work for us:
“I pledge to fight to ensure that our government is free from the corrupting influence of big money in politics and solely dependent upon the People as equal citizens, by supporting pro-democracy reforms including voting rights protections, anti-corruption measures, citizen-funded elections, and a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.”
A reform bill and amendments to implement this pledge are before Congress including Government by the People Act, Fair Elections Now Act, Voting Rights Advancement Act, Fair Elections Now Act, and the Democracy for All amendment. Hightower points out in this month’s Lowdown issue “Each one has substanital numbers of co-sponsors, so the eruption of a grassroots democracy rebellion could shove such reforms into law.” Wow.
For me, this is old home week. Having marched on Washington with Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in protest of the Vietnam War, I recallbeing confronted by a band of American Nazi’s who screamed “We’ll GAS you peace freaks!” Wow; the memories are vivid, wonderful and unsettling. The Vietnam War was for us the slow picking off of many fine young men to the draft, living with the dred of loved ones being sent to kill people we had no argument with. That’s war and we’re always somewhere in it.
Had the pleasure recently of talking with Frances Moore Lappe’ at Healdsburg Shed, that talk about her newest, World Hunger: 10 Myths. Lappe’, famed for her Diet for a Small Planet contention that we aren’t short of food, we don’t share! Still terribly true – and now she’s devoted herself to rebuilding democracy – Living Democracy, the state of being where everyone is involved in decisions that affect our lives. Hey! Same line as SDS – Tom Hayden, Todd Gittlan, et al “participatory democracy” the overall goal of SDS. Democracy at its core, created and maintained by – US!
So what’s changed? Very little and a great deal. We’re still extraordinarily selfish as a culture – or a species. Do we have that great primordial fear that if we don’t catch all the fish for ourselves there won’t be enough? I do think that’s a lot of it – but more tragically, we seem to believe we have no further responsibility than to feed our families and share an occasional laugh with friends.
I cannot agree. I recall during the ‘60’s being deeply affected by the writing of Bertold Brecht and the core idea of “the Good German” without whose cooperation Nazi Germany could not have existed. We’re far too close to the ideology that it’s US vs. THEM and we better get OURS before they get US. Democracy is the opposite: we get all the good stuff because we’re all part of the government.
Seems we’ve just about messed up our earth beyond repair, but as of this writing, there is No Planet B. I know Elon Musk (Tesla) and Richard Branson (VirginAmerica) are working on Life on Mars – but go see The Martian film and you just know you aren’t ready for those storms! Our only real option is to learn to live with one another.
Daily Acts? Yes, and mass marches, too.
For further info., read up on Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening coalitions at www.equalvoiceforallpledge.org/pledge and lend your voice to the conversation. Or follow Jessica Kozik at In These Times, advice and visit www.democracyspring.org. Thanks!