Just off the cuff here...a few comments.  I am remembering how the right took this country over, beginning in the 50's.  It's taken them 60 years to basically dominate our politics.  Through ideologically driven issues like the right to own a gun, abortion, gay marriage, terrorism, deregulation, freedom and liberty, immigration and debt ceilings, they have played on the emotions of Americans and manipulated the debate.  It's always about patriotism and God.

My point is that what we have today is the result of a very intentional plan.  The 1% are firmly in control, while the other 99% are sedated by the still faint glimmer of the American Dream, weekend football, QVC, and the propaganda in our media.  Our elections have been numbed down to the point of irrelevance.  Policy-making goes on behind closed doors and Corporations are the only "persons" being represented in Congress.

Anyway, most Americans I know are really still feeling hopeless.  They can't own their own futures anymore and they certainly cannot own the courage to defeat the Military Industrial Complex, they are either too busy or too distracted.  If it's not Fox News, it's Burning Man, the later which I happen to think is really cool.  But is it more important than standing up to the corruption of power?  Is it more important than ending a war or a planetary meltdown?

Not too many of us can devote more than a few hours a week to political action, there is hardly enough time for us all to keep up with the errands, friendships, and other responsibilities living brings us.  I get it.  Many of my good progressive educated, caring and informed friends can't so much as think about coming out to an Occupy.  Life is just that complicated for them, or they are just too comfortable.  Their faith in political action is either nonexistent or very badly broken.  Not many people believe things can change, even though they all agree things must.

Have they become disenfranchised because all those online petitions they signed never went anywhere?  Are they lacking motivation because they have demonstrated against all the wars a dozen times now and we are still not able to end the senseless killing?  How can we get the vast majority of people to stand up and actually demand to own their future, actually demand to have a government Of the People?  Do we have to wait until climate disruptions and economic disparity become the norm rather than a temporary set back, or until things get even worse?  I really hope not.

Look.  The ONLY thing that power respects is power.  The only way we can demonstrate OUR power is by coming together.  It's not by acting out our various little cheer leading sessions.   Those are important, but without an endgame, what's really the point?  Most of what we have done is basic theater.  Dressing up like wind turbines may make a few headlines, but to those really in power it's not much more than a little 2-bit circus.  They'll take the small hits, even if it's an 8 million-dollar loss from the Port of Oakland because we shut it down for a day or two.  As long as we never organize into one giant movement, they have nothing to fear, and the odds of that are "almost priceless".

What we need is not more educating on the woes of our society or the conditions, which are threatening our future.  We need to build partners, we need to be focused on a way to channel all the energy into a singular and unbeatable movement.  An endgame is what it's all about, and I believe that should be about forming a truly representational democracy in America.  After all, it's what we are supposed to have, and I think most people are unhappy that we do not have one.  Perhaps if we did, We the People could have an honest discussion about our true differences, and our vastly more important similarities.  Perhaps if we did that, our media would be actually informing us and enriching our lives with great stuff.  Maybe if We the People ruled, our elections would begin to mean something and Policy would be made in the open.

Many People ask me, how can a People's Congress get anything done?  With no legal authority how can it be helpful to simply "hold" a People's Congress?  This is usually where I recognize that this person has lost his or her ability to imagine and dream.  It takes a willingness to embrace the possibility of actually changing the way our lives are being governed.  We must first believe that we can and WILL own our futures.  That is what we all should be working to improve and strengthen our belief in ourselves.  It's been under attack for decades, so it's nothing to be ashamed of.  We simply have to remember that our belief in the power to change things has been robbed from us, deliberately and with malice.  It's time to take that back and use it.

The People's Congress is a way to "demonstrate" our collective ability to govern, to legislate clear and effective law, to by representational, and to be worthy of a truly representational democracy.  Until we have that, all bets are off.  We need to own the reigns of government, and we will need all hands on deck to make that possible.  It's all about setting goals, developing a process, and embracing togetherness.   Once we demonstrate that we have the capability of self-determination, We the People can begin the process of taking back the power from corporations and delivering it into the hands of the People.  We can do this because the Constitution does give "We the People" the authority to rule.  With the guidance of several well-informed Constitutional Scholars and experts from around the world, the People of America can make this happen.  All it takes is for us to be willing to focus on a singular event which is large enough to become the focus of media attention for at least a few weeks.  Peaceful, celebratory, focused, positive, and deliberate.  A well-choreographed display of the American People at work, engaged in direct democracy.

The power of any action is in its core value and belief.  When we gather on the Mall to hold our own People's Congress we are sending exactly the right message to the country and world.  We need a comprehensive set of solutions now, not simply the reversal of Citizens United.  We the People need to regain control of our own government.  In the end, that is what we are all trying to accomplish!  So, let's stop beating around the bush.  Let's figure out an endgame and make some plans before the next election has come and gone without us.

Views: 90

Comment by David Eggleton on December 23, 2011 at 10:56am

"The ONLY thing that power respects is power.  The only way we can demonstrate OUR power is by coming together."

I do not share your narrow conclusions, probably because I do not share your analysis.

Look.  Any gathering of any subset of the population is subject to characterization.  Any who do not find the invitation compelling will not only not attend, but will (be inclined to) accept the various characterizations delivered to them during and after the gathering.  Many, many choices that matter are far beyond organizers' control.

That said, there is some opportunity in achieving very-hard-to-characterize.  If the organizers manage to assemble an impressively diverse crowd, provide magical scripts and choreography, and thus produce a dramatic process of harmonization and generation, something good might ensue.  Sadly, that cannot be guaranteed because the last word won't be spoken at the gathering; those ever capable of addressing the masses will have it.  So film the gathering in a very direct and plain manner that at least seems to be an objective document.  Make it easy for many to see it.

Then we'd pray or cross our fingers or whatever we prefer when we know we're not in control.

Comment by John Mulkins on December 23, 2011 at 11:58am

Good thoughts David, thanks.  I base this proposal on two very large assumptions. One, that it is huge, a million people or more, and two, that it is an impressively diverse crowd, with both magical scripts and choreography, It is a proposal that We the American People celebrate our Constitutional right and duty to Govern.
Blog posts are OK for getting out some basic thoughts, but there are a lot of layers to what I have begun.  I hope you'll check out our web site.  www.peoplescongress.org.

Comment by Ben Roberts on December 24, 2011 at 10:57am

It's a fascinating and inspiring idea.  One of many that share a similar impulse, I think.  See this from fellow OC.org member Jon Denn, for example: http://www.agreater.us/

One challenge, as reflected in our forum thread on Occupy and the political spectrum, is the need for a "neutral convener" for such an event.  You start your blog post off by slamming the Right.  Personally, I resonate 100% with your analysis of where we are now (which is very well-written too, I might add!).  But your framing is far from representative of the views of the 99%.

Two choices seem to be on offer and I don't really know where I land... One is George Lakoff's view that we can't unify two mutually exclusive frames of morality and politics, so we should focus our energies on getting a majority aligned around the progressive frame and on energizing the base.  The other is the trans-partisan impulse--which feels like it's at the root of your initiative despite your partisan framing here-- that is based on a sense that there are at least some key issues around which a super-majority are aligned.  These relate, it seems quite clear, to the problem created by our "corporatocracy/plutomonomy."  

We already know that a large majority of the public agrees that money and corporate influence has corrupted our political system.  The voice of the people is irrelevant.    And the revolving door between government and lobbying has given us an economy where small businesses cannot compete with monopolistic giants who can write all the rules in their favor, glean huge subsidies, rig contracts, etc. It Meanwhile, effective regulations to protect workers, the environment etc. are derailed and jobs are outsourced to countries where the labor to make our I-Phones children's toys is often barely distinguishable from slavery.

A second domain for possible broad alignment is the evisceration of the bill of rights (i.e. NDAA), although this one might require more education than the corporatocracy.  

In any case, what makes sense to me is to try to get coalitions to exert broadly based pressure on the political system around these issues in 2012.  That's not to say that a People's Congress might not have great value.  Let a thousand flowers bloom, I say.  But I think we're ready for a campaign of concerted action around some key issues that have already been identified.

Meanwhile, if you want to take a break from the heavy weight of all this analysis, please join us for our HOLIDAY MIXER this Wednesday!!!

Comment by John Mulkins on December 24, 2011 at 2:55pm

Hi Ben.  Thanks for the good feedback and invitation to the mixer! :-)  If I can get free I will be there!
Some quick responses.  I think it is a fairly objective argument that elements of the right have systemically lobbied for a series of changes which has given them utter control of the government.  I do appreciate that this argument could be divisive to some for a few reasons, one being that the left has been utterly complicit in many ways. Nevertheless, my reading on the history of the right leads me to believe that the neoconservative movement is largely responsible for many of the anomalies we are currently suffering under. 

In terms of reaching out to trans-partisan coalition I am rather ambivalent. Many in Occupy see the Tea Party as arch enemies.  Certainly the Koch Brothers would not be interested in a genuine "People's Movement".  I've come to believe that it's best to set an agenda, and hope that progressives find it "basic" enough to support and refine.  To me the core issue is Representational Democracy, understanding that some anarchists are not very interested in that outcome as well.  Personally I think this is what we need next in terms of our evolution as a country.

I will look closely at agreater.us  and explore ways of collaborating if there is the kind of synergy there you suggest, and I have no reason to doubt that there will be.  If we can begin the process of making strong and effective partnerships, then I believe we can achieve some enormous gains this year. That's all I want.

I am already working with many activists around the country, and we are all reaching out to every conceivable partner.  UNAC, 350.org, James Hansen, Occupies, Center for Democracy and Media, CorpWatch, AFD, Code Pink; the list is virtually endless and we are making our way through it with a lot of positive responses.

When I say neutral, I am speaking from a progressive point of view.  It is my belief that a majority of Americans hold progressive values.  The media spin and brainwashing has been very effective in herding the noeconservative mindset, but I believe that mentality is beginning to erode due to the many negative social consequences of those policy choices.  We'll see.  But yes, the agenda outlined by the People's Congress is directed towards establishing a truly representational democracy. I am not sure how any American can argue against that.  Getting them to understand that it is a systemic failure of the system which is preventing this is most important goal for now.


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