Robert Master of the Communications Workers of America and co-chair of the New York State Working Families Party...
Photo credit flickr
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