Democratizing Money, Democratizing the Constitution and Building a Democracy Movement in the USA
It was a dizzying day of education and action in Madison. Here are 10 reflections of my experiences, observations and comments.
1. Plenary sessions are streamed live on DemocracyConvention.org. Watch the first 2 days plenary sessions and other workshops at http://www.theuptake.org/2011/08/24/democracy-convention-live-from-madison-wi/
2. People are increasingly interested in taking control of our corporatized money system. The workshop on Democratizing Money was wall-to-wall with people. I spoke on the need, as affirmed in the Constitution, to retake power and authority to coin money through issuing and circulating US debt-free money. This would unshackle our nation from the economic dependency of banking corporations via interest payments. I shared information about HB 6550, the National Emergency Employment Defense [NEED] Act and the work of the American Monetary Institute. A description of the NEED Act is at http://monetary.org/create-jobs-and-improve-the-economy-through-public-control-of-our-money-system/2011/01
3. A movement to fundamentally amend the US Constitution, or any other movement, must address issues of race, white privilege, class and other issues that divide people who have been oppressed. That was the clear message of several presenters at the daylong Move to Amend Affiliates Gathering. At least 50 people pre-registered for this 2-day skill-building and strategy session.
4. There were several very informative skill building sessions addressing Earned Media and Lobbying Public Officials at the MTA Affiliates Gathering. These will soon be posted on
http://www.movetoamend.org (probably in the Tool Kit section). There were also several excellent handouts provided. One focusing on corporate personhood “Talking Points” will be posted on http://www.movetoamendohio.org in the next few days.
5. Madison and Dane county, Wisconsin have paved the way in passing ballot initiatives calling for an end to corporate personhood and the legal doctrine that money is speech. Other communities have worked to pass variations of such resolutions. Many more are in various stages of development.
The following reflections are based on the evening plenary, Building a Democracy Movement in the USA.
6. Ben Manski, Chair of the Convention, said the fundamental question of our time is “Who rules?” A democracy movement must be built to win, to acquire the capacity to self-govern.
7. George Friday of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and Green Party felt the 3 most important steps to take in when we return home are (1) pass resolutions against corporate personhood and wanting our war dollars to come home, (2) build relationships with people unlike ourselves, and (3) have a party. It’s very important that is these troubled times that we take care of ourselves.
8. Dr. Margaret Flowers, one of the key organizers of the upcoming October 6 Stop the Machine actions in DC and key single-payer activist, believes lobbying and working on elections at the present time is basically worthless as our political system is broken. The disconnect between supermajority public views and political votes on taxing the rich, ending the wars, corporate welfare, creating jobs, clean energy, getting money out of politics prove the point that corporations and the military have captured our public officials. We must build a grassroots democracy movement.
9. Nichols, author and writer for the Nation and Progressive, quoting Walt Whitman, said democracy is not of the vote but of the human spirit. It has almost nothing do with the voting booth but whether we are human beings. Politics isn’t ultimately about voting but of equality. He very assertively spoke about the success of people who have created their own media and helped them “leap over” corporate media – and called for all of us to become more adept at using all communication technologies. He also said we must overcome our fear of the Constitution. It’s protected us a little bit. But we’ve got to mess with it. Get money out of politics. People are people. Corporations are corporations. And people are superior to corporations.
10. Finally, I observed to David Cobb this evening that the movement against corporations has come along way over the past 15 years. The energy directed at corporations is now rapidly evolving. For years, when activists at all focused on corporations, it was directed on one or more “harms” or “abuses” (the list of which is virtually endless). What we are now seeing is an evolution to awareness and energy focused on redressing corporate rights. That is quite a shift – from a defensive one-at-a-time approach to an affirmative declaration that human beings alone (include nature as well) should possess inalienable rights. It’s been quite a ride. And it’s just beginning!