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The jig is up, my time has come. I’m about to be arrested. They’ll be hauling me away in mid-April.

Not for doing anything wrong but for standing up for what’s right. Or, more accurately, I’ll be sitting down for what’s right by participating in a sit-in at the U.S. Capitol.

Why? To help reclaim our People’s democratic rights from the moneyed elites who have bought our elections and deeply corrupted our government in order to impose a corporate plutocracy over you and me.

I will not be alone in the paddywagon, because thousands of mad-as-hellers are converging on Washington to launch a nationwide mass mobilization of people power to halt Big Money’s control of our political system—more than 2,000 of us have already signed up to engage in the time-honored tactic of peaceful civil disobedience by “sitting-in” for democracy.

I’m participating with two large coalitions which have organized this pro-democracy rebellion: Democracy Awakening (www.democracyawakening.org) and Democracy Spring (www.democracyspring.org). Democracy Awakening participants have coalesced around a message of creating a democracy that works for all of us. This potentially game-changing coalition of more than 100-issue based, progressive organizations represents many of the people’s interests, including labor, socially responsible businesses, environmental groups, public interest advocates, media groups, and others.

Based on intense and inclusive social media organizing and a very diverse network of community activists and “roots” groups, this vibrant coalition is organizing a march from the Liberty Bell to Capitol Hill (April 2 to 11) and is coordinating mass actions at the Capitol (April 11 to 18). They’re also enlisting folks who can’t be in Philadelphia or D.C. to do other actions. A coalition of five strong groups (99Rise, Avaaz, Democracy Matters, Energy Action Coalition, and the Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union) have organized these actions, and more than 100 organizations have endorsed this effort.

So six years after the Supreme Court’s malignant Citizens United ruling, nearly every American plainly sees that our nation’s historic “one person, one vote” political ethic of citizen equality has been buried in a roaring avalanche of corrupt corporate money. Moreover, nearly nine years after Wall Street thieves wrecked our economy, the great majority also see that the court’s turbo-charged money politics has produced a economic policies that richly reward the plutocratic robbers and coldly abandons the robbed.

The people know they have been robbed. And a powerful anti-Big Money sentiment is what has fueled 2016’s spectacular Bernie & Donnie runs, and it’s why we democracy rebels should shift now from complaining about the plutocratic corruption of our country—to stopping it. The people are ready, and this hyper-political year is the time to move, for (1) the presidential and congressional elections will focus public attention on the political system for months to come, and (2) corporate and political cash will be on full display (from the Koch Brothers’ Billionaire Money Bash to the garish corporate sponsorship of both parties’ national conventions).

While all of the establishment forces (and too many of our progressive leaders) have dourly told us commoners that we must resign ourselves to the new Citizens United order of court-sanctioned, rule-by-money, the people themselves have not accepted that. But where could they turn for help?

The leadership of both political parties either enthusiastically welcomed government of, by, and for the 1-percenters (GOP) or, with a wink and a nod, agreed to go along with it in exchange for getting their own share of big money donations (the Dems). For six years, the public has been yearning for someone, something, some moment, to arise and rescue the founding ideals of 1776.

Well, here it is! And who are our rescuers? Us! You, me, and all the thousands of mavericks in Philadelphia and Washington who want to fire a new democratic “shot heard ‘round the world.” This will signal to the millions of members of the groups forging the Democracy Awakening and Democracy Spring coalitions that they are not helpless in the face of an American plutocracy.

The moment is ripe to rally a People’s rebellion, intervene in this year’s elections with a clear change agenda, and make this moment the turning point for actually implementing those changes. Just getting such a diverse myriad of progressive forces to join hands in such an effort is an auspicious sign that maybe—just maybe—we can bind our forces into an effective populist movement for the long haul, rebuilding America’s democratic promise for the greater good of all.

Given the opportunity, don’t we have to go for it?

 

Jim Hightower produces The Hightower Lowdown newsletter

 

 

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Comments

Whatever happened to "peaceful non violent protest"? That worked Mr. King, and Gandhi, and we sure ain't celebrating a Malcolm X day. >The people know they have been robbed. And a powerful anti-Big Money sentiment is what has fueled 2016’s spectacular Bernie & Donnie runs._ Yeah and this whole event is funded by George Soros one of the fattest of the cats in the industry who has his own personal plans, I can't tell whether you people are really naive or just plan ignorant.
Why did people wait so long to protest? They are acting like the U.S. only recently turned into a fascist nation. We have had a fascist, corporate dictatorship disguised as a democracy for more than a century. People have really been asking for it. It is irreversible at this point and I would bet my entire life that this protest will make literally no difference whatsoever. In fact, on the Democracy Spring website, they have put a starting and ending date, so they aren't even planning on staying for any significant length of time. Why would congress or corporate America not wait it out just like they did during the Occupy "movement"?
Huh? Naive? Ignorant? A sit-in IS peaceful non violent protest, exactly the type of strategy employed by King and Gandhi. Were you around during the civil rights movement? India's struggle for independence? Do you think they just gave speeches and wrote letters to their elected representatives and change occurred?
Small nitpick. Democracy Spring is the group marching from Philly to D.C., and will be holding the sit-in from April 11 - 18. Democracy Awakening will be in DC to protest April 16 - 18. The phrasing of the article sounds as though D.A. is the group marching. Go Democracy Spring!! Go Democracy Awakening! All my hope and support goes with you guys!

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
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and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
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Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
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Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
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every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
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though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
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Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
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As soon as the generals and the politicos 
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Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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