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This should be a national alert to all occupy groups!!
Check out H.R. 347
This bill makes it a felony to hold demonstrations or "occupy" efforts.
Read the bill and make sure that all occupiers understand the ramifications of
what this bill does regarding First Amendment right to peaceful demonstrations.
I cannot stress enough of a WARNING about this bill.
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!
There's really nothing to be concerned about. You can still attempt to communicate with, influence, or exercise your will through the federal elected representatives you voted for, as long as you approach them alone, without wearing any controversial clothing or emblems, are not carrying a sign, and approach slowly and peacefully on your knees with your empty hands raised in the air to prove that your intentions are nonviolent.
The Secret Service may arrest you anyway, but if you follow the above instructions the charges will probably be dropped in court. Of course it is a much better idea to just phone the office of your representative and ask for an appointment to speak with a staff member, intern, or volunteer, who will promise to pass your concerns on to your representative, or to send a letter, fax, or email. In any case, you'll still get the same form letter thanking you for your input, but bear in mind that our democratic form of government does not allow public opinion to influence policy decisions.
The Occupy movement was founded on the principles of direct democracy. Nobody involved with Occupy should be approaching, protesting, petitioning, voting for, or in any other way interacting with the ruling oligarchy of the hierarchical government now in power. We need to be delegitimizing that form of government through noncompliance and building a form of government where we have a direct voice in policy decisions--a direct democracy. Asking tyrants for favors is foolish, because any favors they grant, they can withdraw at their whim. Electing more benevolent tyrants cannot do away with tyranny, as their successors may not be as benevolent. It is the system that's the problem, so looking to the system's puppets is futile.
I apologize for posting here. I try to stay away because radicals already know what I'm saying, while liberals and progressives are incapable of understanding it. But sometimes I'm too weak to resist. Please forgive me.
By way of atonement, here's a link to a recent article by Stephen Lendman:
Electoral Politics in America
And here's an excerpt from the article:
"Representative democracy failed. It's too corrupted to fix. Presidents and Congress serve serve monied, not popular interests. Only direct democracy works, letting people decide freely on their own."
That's why we have an Occupy movement.
My point is to warn those who are not aware of this bill, H.R. 347 could save occupy groups a lot of grief.
Yes, theoretically, awareness of the Anti-Occupy bill could save Occupy groups a lot of grief.
In reality, however, many Occupiers believe that the best way to protest injustice is to nonviolently do civil disobedience in hopes that the publicity from the resulting repression will arouse public support.
So, being aware of H.R. 347, some Occupiers will deliberately arrange to protest near federal buildings where there are elected officials with Secret Service protection, in order to subject themselves to felony arrests.
Then they'll post the videos on YouTube and ask for help with bail money and legal fees.
The laws get more and more repressive, but the protest tactics don't seem to evolve.
And your answer, Mark of an election boycott, is more effective than such protests? I'm not persuaded. The vast majority of people believe that there IS a difference between the two parties, and it's fairly obvious why they do so. You and Lendman suggest they are dupes. I see it differently, and that's not because I'm uninformed. This is in now way to imply that the current situation is acceptable, of course.
What OTHER strategies might we employ? And what hope do we really have if the new systems we seek cannot either evolve out of the ones we have or emerge to replace the old ones as they die a "natural death?" If the powers that be are as entrenched and intractable as is claimed, perhaps we're all wasting our time.
I choose to believe that radical transformation is actually underway both from within and without. People getting arrested for protesting is one part of that mosaic of change, and I honor them for their bold and fearless spirit. I can't prove that my optimism is warranted (nor do I believe that positive change is inevitable), but this feels a lot better than the cynical and resigned place I used to hang out in.
What might happen if we did manage to come together and demand that big money be removed from our political process? There's a large majority in this country that would support that, even if it meant mandatory public financing of elections. I once talked with a Tea Partier from Wasilla Alaska who favored such a policy!
I suggest that you read this brief article I wrote yesterday, Ben, along with the linked article that it is in response to:
Delusions of Constitutional Reform
In order to make demands on government, we first need a credible way to back up our demands. Do you really think that the majority of legislators are aware of or concerned about protesters going to jail? If so, why did Congress just pass H.R. 347? How does the arrest of protesters make you or me or anyone else more free? All it seems to do is inspire more repressive legislation.
If the majority of people believed that there was a difference between the two parties, Congress wouldn't have the less than 10% approval rating it does. It would have at least the 25% approval rating corresponding to the voting share of the more popular political party.
The concept of an election boycott is intended precisely to speed up the process of nonviolently seeking to allow a new system to be created while no longer perpetuating or legitimizing the old one so that it can die a natural death.
I'm sorry that you were in a cynical and resigned place, but that is the situation of most voters, cynical in not believing that real change is possible, and therefore resigned to trying to work within a system Constitutionally designed to be resistant to change.
The Occupy movement isn't about winning over the Tea Partiers to a progressive platform of electoral reform that even the Democratic Party hasn't adopted, but to establish a functional system of direct democracy--a system of government of, by, and for the people. Occupy Wall Street and most major Occupy cities have issued Statements of Autonomy and are nonpolitical. The problem isn't which political party or politicians are in office, the problem is centralized power without accountability.
Legislators have most certainly taken notice of Occupy--it's caused a dramatic shift in the entire national dialogue. And that happened because the small group of original protesters were pepper sprayed and arrested by the NYC cops--without the popular attention that generated, the movement would not have exploded in scale as it did.
So actually, I see a direct line from civil disobedience to political impact. As for how it all turns out or what the Occupy movement "is or isn't about," I'd say there are lots of different stories to tell thus far and there will be many more in the future. I'm keeping an open mind.
The explosion of the Occupy movement is not reflected in legislation, Ben. Of course legislators have taken notice of it--and taken steps to repress it.
There is indeed a direct line from civil disobedience to political impact, but the political impact has resulted in legislation to suppress civil disobedience. That is exactly what would happen in any other tyrannical form of government.
I'm glad you're keeping an open mind, Ben, and I hope that also applies to peaceful, unconventional, nonviolent strategies and tactics of noncompliance, such as not voting. The attempts by the Democratic Party to co-opt the Occupy movement have not been helpful or constructive, as witnessed by the fact that Democrats did not even have enough influence over their party and its elected legislators to prevent the almost unanimous adoption of HB 347.
The Rant: I find it most curious, the iterations of new law that garner virtual unanimous congressional consensus, as well as respective omission by mainstream media. The vote proportion on HR 347 is nearly identical to NDAA with 97 for and only 3 dissenting. For days now, news of HR 347 has only been reported via alternative information outlets.
I find it remarkable that Congress appears deadlocked when it comes to every other policy regarding actual constructive benefits for the people which go against corporate interest, yet magnificently in step when it comes to relieving people of the right to empowered dissent and the redress of substantive grievance. There does seem to be a concerted effort to curb occupy direct action and protest with the escalation of eco-political power plays on the table.
Ultimately, this is going to come down to realizing that actions may have less to do with in-the-street protest (I'm not advocating abandoning protest) and more to do with mass awareness and daily withdrawal of support for business as usual, but especially people realizing that significantly higher level of engagement in governance activity (like actually performing due diligence on the people one votes into office-as if one's life depended on it). [I get this runs counter to your strategy, Mark, of withdrawing votes altogether. I have faith in people realizing the power of their voice and exercising it. We put the people we don't like in power by either uninformed action, omission or actually liking what they stand for.]
The Positive Spin: We (those who protest the status quo) are being forced to be more conscious of our actions and activities. We do need to evolve our tactics. This is what human life is about. We're born, we try stuff, if we like it we keep doing it, if we don't, we change to something different until we get the results we like. We repeat this process for as long as we have belief that change is possible. In a healthy, empowered relationship with our life, we keep this belief alive, even in the face of adversity and contrary evidence.
I advocate learning and acting smarter, rather than pushing harder or doing nothing at all. Increase mass basic education re: jurisdictional law (Common/Constitutional vs. Maritime/Admiralty), political process, economic structures and how basic personal choices can impact the outcome of what occurs in every arena of our collective landscape. That's a tall order to conceive at once, but it's one that is already in motion in an organic, decentralized way. It will continue to gain momentum. Knowledge is power. The truth, in fact, will set you free. First you need to know how we've signed our freedom away. At the same time, there is the freedom that exists independent of any external force or restraint. Humans aspire to have both.
The Landing: Take note of the rule changes affecting the playing field and therefore strategies and tactics, while exercising legal recourse to undo what is unjust to the extent it's possible. Evolve our belief in ourselves, understand and embody our inalienable rights and act with clarity, purpose, forethought and Love. Evolve our trust in fear and hostility into the power of Love to heal and transform. It is working miracles in personal lives, and so it will in our collective life.
We don't "...put the people we don't like in power by either uninformed action, omission or actually liking what they stand for," Jitendra.
We didn't put George Bush in power. The Supreme Court, finding that the Constitution did not ensure any right for the popular vote to be counted at all, stopped the vote count in 2000, ordered that the votes not be counted, nullified the entire election, and selected the President themselves. In more than 92% of voting districts in the USA, votes are tallied by central tabulators that are completely unverifiable. You are welcome, as part of your belief system, to believe that the votes are actually counted and counted accurately, but since there is no evidence for this, it is a belief, not a fact. Some people believe the earth is flat and they are also entitled to their beliefs.
Those who protect the status quo are totally aware of the actions and activities of protesters--that's why they almost unanimously passed H.R. 347.
The Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, openly stated that it does not allow public opinion to influence policy decisions. It makes no difference whether public opinion is expressed through protests or through voting, it will not be allowed to influence policy decisions. Repressive legislation has the intention of penalizing those who attempt to influence policy decisions because the people in power believe that policy is their job (or more properly, the job of their major donors) and that the public has no right to interfere.
You are correct that change will come about primarily by "withdrawal of support for business as usual," Jitendra. Voting is not creative, transformative, or transcendent, Jitendra, it is business as usual, and it is one of many things from which we should withdraw our support and withhold our participation. As anarchist Emma Goldman said more than 100 years ago before being deported as the most dangerous woman in the US, "If voting could change anything, they'd make it illegal."
There is no esoteric secret to how we signed our freedom away. We sign away our freedom every time that we vote to delegate our power to representatives instead of retaining our power so that we can have a direct voice in government policy. If we want decentralized power, we are working against our own self interests when we vote to delegate power to a centralized government. Even voting for one of the three who didn't support HR 347 won't help, as they are a miniscule minority.
We didn't put George Bush in power. The Supreme Court, finding that the Constitution did not ensure any right for the popular vote to be counted at all, stopped the vote count in 2000, ordered that the votes not be counted, nullified the entire election, and selected the President themselves
Well, that's only part of the story, isn't it, Mark? If Ralph Nader hadn't been so successful in convincing FL voters that there was no difference between the parties, Gore would have won without the need for a recount. Michael Moore begged him to withdraw from the battleground states, but Nader refused. I admire Ralph. I voted for him in CT. But his actions were arguably more decisive than the Supreme Court's.
By the way, I read one analysis of the ballots that made a solid case for the recount that Gore was asking for--which was not a full state-wide one-- would not have overturned Bush's victory anyway.
There are other aspects to the story as well of course. Overt and illegal suppression of the minority vote, for example. And skewed counting of absentee ballots. And that stupid butterfly ballot that a Democrat designed.
I'm not defending the Court. Their decision was an outrage. Nor do I think our election system is fair or secure. But I do think it matters who wins and that the ability to steal an election is not unlimited.
Other third party candidates like the Libertarians got more votes in Florida than Nader. It is the Democratic Party line that it was Nader that changed the outcome, but it doesn't happen to be true.
And when a vote count actually was obtained, long after the election was over when it was much too late, it was found that despite the Nader vote and the Libertarian vote, Gore actually had won Florida. Had the Supreme Court allowed the votes to be counted, that's what they would have found.
Due to the Supreme Court's finding in Bush v. Gore 2000, the popular vote does not have to be counted at all. They found that the Constitution does not ensure the right of the people to have their votes counted, and therefore the ability to steal elections is indeed unlimited.
Jitendra suggested that "we" means those who protest the status quo. The status quo happens to be a Constitution that established an electoral system in which the voters do not have the final say.
This was accomplished in many ways. For example, voters cannot vote directly for President and Vice-President. If 100% of voters vote for a single candidate, the states can direct their Electors to vote for the other candidate anyway. Legislation to change that would not solve the problem because there are many other problems.
One of the other problems is that Congress does not have to accept the Electoral College vote. That's why the Congressional Black Caucus attempted to petition Congress to reject the fraudulent Florida Electoral vote in 2000. If there is legislation to force the Electoral College to abide by the popular vote, Congress can still reject the Electoral College vote.
But even a Constitutional Amendment to force Congress to accept the Electoral College vote would not solve the problem because the Supreme Court has the power to intervene. The Supreme Court has supreme power to do whatever it wants to do, since there is no appeal from a Supreme Court ruling. It can decide to intervene in an election without any reason for doing so, and there is no way to appeal that decision. Congress could then decide to impeach the Supreme Court justices for bad behavior, but the election would be long over and four more wars of aggression could have been started by the new President at a cost of trillions of dollars that could never be recovered, not to mention the loss of millions of innocent lives that could not be restored.
If it mattered who won, the corporations would not donate in almost equal amounts to both parties. They don't spend billions of dollars on elections for no reason. Corporations spend billions of dollars on elections to ensure that no matter who wins, they always win.
To admit knowing that our election system is neither fair nor secure, yet to vote anyway, seems rather strange to me, Ben. Why would you actively participate in a system that is neither fair nor secure, unless you support injustice and a lack of accountability? If I know that a card game is rigged, I won't bet my rent money, no less the entire national treasury, in that game. If I know that a system is insecure, say that the brakes on a car don't work, I won't drive that care until the brakes are fixed. I have to wonder about people who are willing to gamble their children's future on a system they know is neither fair nor secure. It seems a tad irresponsible to me.
When I say "we", Mark, I'm referring to the broader collective that's registering the complaints and displeasure. Not all of the we's participated in G.W.'s coup. However, had a greater percentage of we's participated, or been willing to do more thorough due diligence, the vote differential may likely have been too large to fudge.
Of course, this is pure conjecture and inspired intuition. With respect to the whole, I think both of our perspectives ought to remain alive and vital, along with countless others. Until we've emerged into the territory to which we collectively aspire, all actions, thoughts, philosophies and revelations of brilliance are necessary for the stew we're concocting.
We won't know what it tastes like till it's done...and we can't know when it's done till we look around one day and marvel at the change. Who's lifetime that occurs in, I haven't a clue. My heart tells me it does occur.