This Independence Day, let’s further the movement for independence from the corporatocracy and build real democracy in the USA.
The Rolling Rebellion for Real Democracy begins on July 4th with creative actions extending for 8 days across the nation.
We only send this newsletter once a week, but photos and updates of breaking news like the Rolling Rebellion often flow fast and furiously. If you don’t want to miss out on the action, click the button below to follow Popular Resistance on twitter.
Each week, the American people are confronted with new abusive anti-democratic actions by the corporate-run government. The underlying cause is the rule of money which is now documented to have a greater effect on policy than the desires and needs of the public.
Here are some examples of recent assaults on democracy:
Wikileaks leaked another trade agreement being negotiated in secret that could have a devastating impact on the US economy by further empowering the big banks and aiding the privatization of basic services like water and electricity. The draft text of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) involving 50 countries and being promoted by the United States and the European Union is in its sixth round of negotiations and would cover a wide range of service industries.
The Obama administration continues to push other secretly-negotiated trade agreements, the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic “TAFTA,” forward despite widespread public opposition. The Democrats are preparing to push some type of trade authority, known as Fast Track, which would allow the agreements to be signed without a democratic and transparent process in Congress to review their potential impact. We stopped Baucus’ Fast Track bill earlier this year through public awareness and pressure on Congress, and we will need to do that again.
If there is any question which side the Obama administration is on when it comes to the rights of transnational corporations versus the rights of people that was answered this week. The United Nation Human Rights Council voted by a majority in favor of a legally-binding treaty to prevent transnational corporations from violating human rights. And the US promptly stated that it would not cooperate and would urge other countries to do the same.
The slippery slope to another Iraq war began this week with President Obama sending 500 soldiers to Iraq to protect US “interests” and work with the Iraqi military, thereby doubling the military presence in Iraq. He also increased intelligence activity in the area which may be preparation for drone attacks. Obama decided to ignore the constitutional requirement that Congress authorize military action. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) is the first senator to highlight that the constitution requires Congress to act, echoing comments we made as soon as the drum beat for military action began. Thankfully, a bi-partisan group in Congress is circulating a letter to Obama for sign-on.
Obama is taking this action in Iraq, with Secretary of State Kerry promising even more military support, despite widespread public opposition to another Iraq war. Obama seems very comfortable ignoring the Constitution and the people – if he continues on this path he may find his final years in office enmeshed in impeachment proceedings.
This week we learned that an amazing near universal consensus has grown in the United States around genetically modified foods. A Consumers Union poll found that 92% believe GE food should be labeled, 92% think GE food should meet government safety standards before being sold, and 92% demand the government label GE salmon. In addition, a multi-faceted food justice movement has developed around GMOs, organic gardening, community-supported agriculture and fair wages for agricultural workers. This movement is winning important victories!
There are frequent examples of corporate-government attacks on the environment.
- The Pennsylvania government ordered health workers not to tell the people how fracking could adversely affect their health.
- The highest court in Utah refused to consider the substance of serious claims against tar sands excavation in the state finding that the complaint was filed more than 30 days after the decision. The problem for the environmentalists was that the decision was issued in secret without any notice to the public so they could not sue within 30
- The Obama administration has been announcing to the public what sounds like steps in the right direction on coal, while behind the scenes, it is acting to weaken standards for coal plants.
And, the United Nations responded to complaints from Detroit residents regarding the city shutting off water to tens of thousands of residents. The water was not shut off to major corporations that were behind in their bills. The UN weighed in on the actions of a truly undemocratic city – the city of Detroit where elected officials have been replaced by a city manager appointed by the governor. The United Nations found that the action of cutting off water supplies “constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights.” This is one of many attacks on Detroiters.
The Supreme Court also continues down the path of undermining democracy and legalizing bribery under the spurious legal concepts that money equals speech and that corporations have human rights.
Americans Are Rising Up For Real Democracy In Multiple Ways
Rather than being disheartened by the reality of the serious shortcomings of US democracy, people are using Supreme Court decisions like McCutcheon and Citizens United as well as the anti-democratic actions of the Congress and president as rallying cries to work for real democracy.
One project we are working with is the Rolling Rebellion for Real Democracy. The rallying cry of the effort is: “From corporations claiming unalienable rights as ‘corporate persons’ to billionaires manipulating elections with their wealth – our federal democracy is corrupt to the core. It is time to tap into the United States’ revolutionary roots and in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence instigate a second American Revolution against oligarchic rule.”
The Rolling Rebellion actions are the beginning of an ongoing multi-year campaign to create real democracy in the United States. A dozen actions are currently listed we urge you to create your own if one does not exist in your community. Join the Rolling Rebellion. This is an opportunity to start building a core group of democracy activists in your community so you have a foundation on which to build this movement locally. Rolling Rebellion provides ideas for actions and tools to carry them out.
In Parallel to the Democracy Movement
There is a rising democracy movement that we have been reporting on and participating in at Popular Resistance. This movement also works for changes in the economic system which operates in tandem with the political system.
In Wisconsin this week when Enbridge decided to hold a public relations meeting over a new tar sands pipeline, the people rejected the phony meeting format and turned it into a real town hall where the people could ask the corporate representatives tough questions. To the dismay of Enbridge, the people rearranged the room and made it clear that they wanted protection of the environment in their community to come before Enbridge’s profits.
In Utah, climate justice activists are not going to let the state ram through a massive tar sands excavation. Despite the failure of the regulatory agencies and courts to take the environment seriously, the people are doing so. Activists announced a “permanent protest vigil” after three years of fighting with state agencies and in the courts. The blockade continues and they need your support to stop a giant tar sands mine the size of Florida from being started in the US.
This week, Gar Alperovitz, a dean of the economic democracy movement, wrote about work being done to create a new democratic economy that shifts wealth. He notes how Thomas Piketty “documented long-running trends that have turned over ever-increasing shares of national income to the owners of capital at the expense of the vast majority” and that we are not going to correct this trend with traditional solutions. It is more important for people to think of actions they can take to democratize capital, i.e. to shift ownership. He concludes that experiments all over the country in economic democracy mean that Piketty’s capital-concentrating trends are not a foregone conclusion for the future.
John Duda of the Democracy Collaborative provides specific examples in urban areas across the country of local governments supporting the economic democracy movement. He describes how new policies to encourage cooperatives and build community wealth bring together community activists, philanthropists and policy makers to create policies that change ownership structures and build wealth in the community. They issued a report for Jacksonville, FL, where a round table was held involving multiple cities, to discuss these issues.
In addition to who owns the capital is the issue of who decides how public capital is used. Participatory budgeting is used around the world and with increasing frequency in the US. The first youth-led participatory budgeting process just concluded successfully in Boston. Residents aged 12 to 25 decided how to spend $1 million of city dollars.
Our two track approach of protest and creation, i.e. “Stop the Machine, Create a New World,” is the way the movement will build economic and political power that will lead to the transformation to a more just and sustainable society.
Join the Rolling Rebellion for Real Democracy.
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