Above photo: People march in Washington, DC on the first day of the lame duck session of Congress to celebrate the popular victory over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and declare that it’s time for a People’s Agenda. By Eleanor Goldfield/Art Killing Apathy
The People Should Set the Agenda Not the Oligarchy
Recent academic studies confirm that the United States is a oligarchy – ruled by and for the few, instead of the many. Studies show that government policies overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy and corporations and do not serve the interests or needs of the majority of people.
Now that the election between the two least popular presidential candidates in history is over, the people’s movement should not allow the billionaire elected president to set the agenda. This would also have been true if the other oligarch representative, Secretary Clinton, had been elected as well.
We showed that when the people are organized we have power. We just defeated the ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership- this was a treendous people-powered victory over transnational corporate power. We must build on that victory by putting forward our agenda and organizing people so that the political culture is moved to support the urgent necessities of people and planet. We must set the standard and force the political system to move toward us.
Evidence of the oligarchic domination of the political process is obvious from how healthcare was “reformed” and other recent policy decisions. The Affordable Care Act was written by the private insurance industry and bailed out that industry and protected pharmaceutical company profits while tens of millions of people remain without coverage and even people who have health insurance struggle to afford care. Trillions of dollars were used to bail out Wall Street after the financial crash and most of the ‘recovery’ has gone to the top, while millions of people lost their homes, wealth inequality is growing and more people are in debt. The government has failed to act on the people’s demands for $15/hour minimum wage, police accountability, labels for GMO foods and ending the fossil fuel era. Our people are being sent abroad for endless wars while weapons makers and war profiteers are enriched.
Right now is the opportune time for people to say no to oligarchy and demand a people’s agenda. The rejection of the Democrats and the unexpected election of Donald Trump have caused confusion among the elites and have opened political space. The vote was a protest vote against the status quo, just as Senator Sanders’ broad support was also challenging the status quo. Voting for Donald Trump was the only way to protest the system — it was not a mandate for a right-wing agenda — but a protest of Washington, DC writing laws for the wealthy and not for the people.
People across the country are rising up and will continue to do so. This is critical for social transformation. We encourage you to organize in your communities and to take the streets.We must also be clear in our demands.
We are offering an outline for a People’s Agenda. This is based on the initial work of the October 2011 (Occupy Washington DC) organizers and community with additions based on the demands of current movements.
Please review the People’s Agenda, and if you support it, sign on as an endorser (CLICK HERE TO ENDORSE THE PEOPLE’S AGENDA). Share it widely!
Now you can join the National People’s Agenda Conference calls. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND THE DATES.
THE PEOPLE’S AGENDA
- Corporatism – Firmly establish that money is not speech, corporations are not people and only people have Constitutional rights. End corporate influence over the political process. End corporate welfare that enriches the few and instead treat government investment as something that all profit from, ensure corporations pay their fair share by ending corporate loopholes and tax subsidies and put in place a global tax so that off-shoring of money does not avoid taxes. Protect people and the environment from damage by corporations and end corporate trade agreements and partnerships that undermine consumer, labor and environmental protections. Trade must be re-made to protect people and planet and developed in a transparent and participatory way without undue corporate influence. Re-invigorate corporate charters so corporations need the approval of government to exist and so their work can be reviewed on a scheduled basis to ensure they are still functioning as their charter requires. Stop privatizing public goods and services in order to commodify them for corporate profit.
- Foreign Policy, Wars and Militarism – End wars and occupations, end private for-profit military contractors and end the weapons export industry. War crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace must be addressed and those responsible held accountable under international law. The United States should not be engaging in regime change of other governments but rather it should respect the sovereignty of nations, including Indigenous nations. Honor the treaties. Reduce the national security state and demilitarize the police. US foreign policy should be based upon obeying international law (all of the recent US wars violated international law), protecting human rights and participating in diplomacy and not war. Armed forces should be used to defend the nation not to attack other nations.
- Human Rights – End exploitation of people in the US and abroad. End discrimination in all forms, guarantee equal civil rights, and the right of people to travel across borders to work and live. Make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international treaties that protect civil and political rights a reality. Negotiate reparations for Native Americans and African Americans. End deportations and create a welcoming path to citizenship for immigrants.
- Worker Rights and Jobs – Guarantee that all working-age people have the right to safe, just, non-discriminatory and dignified working conditions, a sustainable living wage, paid leave and economic protection. Workers should be enabled to form unions for collective bargaining by removing the barriers that have been put in place since the 1940s. Put in place policies that allow worker owned and managed businesses, e.g. worker-owned cooperatives, so workers can build wealth and have greater control over their economic lives.
- Government – Guarantee that all processes of the three branches of government are accountable to international law, transparent and follow the rule of law. Respect the civil rights of government employees. Create a work environment in government that empowers people to serve, participation, honesty and integrity and that protects whistleblowers. Build policies and infrastructure that allow people to participate in decision making.
- Elections – Guarantee that all citizens 18 and older have the right to vote without barriers and establish universal voter registration. Ballot access laws should be re-written so they are consistent for all federal races and are not a barrier to inclusion of alternative parties and candidates. Count all votes in a transparent method open to the public. Institute new voting systems so that more than majority views are represented, e.g. proportional representation; and voting systems that avoid voting based on fear of the greater evil, e.g. instant run-off or ranked choice voting. Create a level playing field by funding public elections with public dollars and clean election laws. Require that all donations directly and indirectly to elections should be transparent, i.e. no anonymous funding of elections. Media should be required to provide equal time for all candidates running for office. Debates must be open to all qualified candidates. In the presidential race, all candidates on enough ballots to achieve a majority of electoral college votes should be included. The fraudulent debate commission, controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties, should have no role in deciding who can debate.
- Criminal Justice and Prisons – end stop and frisk and other racial profiling police practices that lead to police harassment, brutality and even killings of civilians; respect constitutional rights against search and seizure, right to counsel and against self-incrimination. Create systems for community control of policing. Perform an independent investigation of all deaths of civilians by police. End the drug war and adopt a public health, evidence-based drug policy that respects individual rights and does not rely on law enforcement. End private for-profit prisons, end mandatory sentencing, recognize prisoners have the right to humane and just conditions, including the right to vote, with a focus on rehabilitation and reintegration into society and abolish the death penalty. Police need to protect the right to peaceably assemble to redress grievances and the right to Freedom of Speech without infiltration or other police practices that undermine those rights.
- Healthcare – Create a national, universal and publicly financed comprehensive health system, i.e. improved Medicare for All, which provides full health coverage throughout life with no out-of-pocket costs. Promote wellness in public policy. Recognize that health is a human right not a commodity.
- Education – Guarantee that all people have the right to a high quality, publicly-funded and broad education from pre-school through vocational training or university. Protect and empower teachers through unions, strong credentialing standards and professional development. Erase student debt.
- Housing – Guarantee that all people have the right to affordable and safe housing. End predatory mortgage and foreclosure practices.
- Environment – Adopt policies that create a carbon-free and nuclear free energy economy and that respect the rights of nature. Confront climate change with a rapid and comprehensive transition to an energy efficient, wind, solar and other renewable source-based economy that ends the wasteful use of energy. End the extractive economy and move toward a circular system where there is no waste and everything is re-used. Remake land use planning consistent with climate change and to support a healthy environment.
- Finance and the Economy – Break up the too big to fail banks, develop public banks in every state and major city, encourage community banks and credit unions, create local stock exchanges to allow investment in local communities and create micro-finance loans to encourage entrepreneurship and support local businesses. Return the power to create money to the US treasury so that money is no longer debt-based. Put limits on the discrepancy between worker and executive pay. End policies which foster a wealth divide and move to a localized and democratic financial system. Guarantee that people’s deposits are protected and that the public does not pay for financial institutions that fail. Reform taxes so that they are progressive and provide goods, monetary gain and services for the people including creating a guaranteed national income.
- Media – End the concentration of media by a small number of corporations. Democratize the media by recognizing that the airwaves and the internet are public goods and recognize independent and citizen’s media as legitimate media outlets. Require that media be accurate and accountable to the people and that the internet be accessible to all people, respect people’s privacy and promote the sharing of information. Protect net neutrality and freedom of expression on the internet so there is equal access to the Internet as a common carrier.
- Food and Water – Create systems that protect the land and water, create local, affordable and sustainable food networks, encourage community supported agriculture and farmer’s markets and diversify local food supplies so that food does not depend on transit over long distances. Encourage organic food production free of chemicals and regenerative agricultural practices. Label genetically modified foods. Guarantee the right to produce and harvest seeds. Stop commodification of water and guarantee access to water as a public good.
- Transportation – Provide affordable, clean and convenient public transportation and safe spaces for pedestrian and non-automobile travel. Develop land use planning that creates walkable and bikeable communities, with mass transit so that people do not depend on automobiles. Improve travel by train, rapid transit and commuter rails, so people are not dependent on air travel and automobiles.
- Economic Security for All – People should have basic economic security throughout their lives. To end poverty and homelessness and insure economic security throughout life, we urge a guaranteed national income for all, sufficient to meet basic needs. The United States can end poverty for tens of millions by putting in place a basic income which has been supported by economists on the left, right, including libertarians, conservatives and radicals. This will be a supplemental income for many and the only income for others. In retirement we advocate doubling the Social Security payment and paying for it by removing the cap on the Social Security tax and creating a progressive tax for all forms of income including investment income.
There is a national consensus developing on many of the issues in the People’s Agenda. Below is a series of articles that provide polling showing support for these issues.
ENDORSE THE PEOPLE’S AGENDA
Abraham D. Alexander
E Ingrid Anderson
Ellen E. Barfield
Mike J. Beeler
John D. Bennett
James F. Botta
Yolanda Stern Broad PhD
Mary Ann Brooks
Mr. Sherry Brown
Susie Chasnoff, Trade Justice Activist
Bonnie L. Clark
Toni Caldwell Clark
Mary Ann Cole
Bruce M. Cratty
David J Damstrom
Peter F. Daroczy
James R. Dawson
Mary Lou DeFino
Carole Di Tosti, Ph.D.
Sallie Dodd Butters
Dr. William ‘Skip’ Dykoski
C. G. Estabrook
Wayne P. Flottman
Reese E. Forbes
Gerard F. Gaudin
Dennis M. Goldstein
Gary N. Granat
Chuck Graver, Jr.
Amazing Amy Harlib
Tyler V. Healey
William Byron Hess
Henry A Homburger, MD
David Johnson, co-host of World Labor Hour radio collective
Larry K. Kent
Larry K Kentr
Carole A. Kronberg
Terri Rae Kuhajda
Mike and Miriam Kurland
Mike and Von
Lynn Lee Massicotte
Ron A. McCullough
Charles B. McGarry
William A. McGuire
Rael Nidess, M.D.
Laura M. Ohanian
Reverend Mary Perry
John Mark R.
Mary & Rev. Robert Reader
Mary Esther Rohman
Dorothy E. Ross
David C. Sasser
Rev. J.T. Smith
Peggy L. Szymeczek
Mr. Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
Tana Hartman Thorn
Charles D. Tribble
Natalie Van Leekwijck
Richard Vanden Heuvel
James M. Wallrabenstein
Nancy Woodruff RN, IBCLC
Birthing The Future
Community Organizing Center for Mother Earth
Democratic Socialists of America, North Texas
Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice
Hampton Roads Light Brigade
National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
North American Climate, Conservation and Environment (NACCE)
Spiritkeepers Education Center
The Band of Rebels, Rochester, NY
The Sacramento Z Newspaper
Trade Justice Alliance
Vermonters for a New Economy
Viva La Vida Foundation
Western Massachusetts Code Pink
White Rabbit Grove RDNA