The jig is up, and my time has come. I’m about to be arrested. They’ll be hauling me away in mid-April.
Not for doing anything wrong, really. In fact, the authorities will arrest me for standing up for what’s right. Or, more accurately, I’ll be sitting down for what’s right — by participating in a peaceful sit-in at the U.S. Capitol. I don’t yet know the details of the process, but I am certain of why I’m doing it: To help reclaim our People’s democratic rights from the moneyed elites who have bought our elections and deeply corrupted our government.
I’m also certain I will not be alone in the paddy wagon. That’s because thousands of mad-as-hellers will be converging on Washington in mid April to launch a nationwide mass mobilization of people power to halt Big Money’s control of our political system—and I’d like to see you there, too!
But you don’t have to risk arrest to join this democratic moment, for April’s Democracy Awakening will offer a wide variety of ways to protest the plutocrats without leaving your comfort zone. Saturday afternoon, April 16, will feature workshops, teach-ins and art aimed at the connections between voting rights, political money, and the democratic struggles for a healthy living planet, a fair economy, and more. On Sunday, April 17, there’ll be a big, colorful march, followed by a “Rally for Democracy” on the Capitol lawn; and April 18 will be a day for us commoners to team up, sit in, and by other means lobby our congress critters, demanding in person that they end their corporate money addiction. Find out details at DemocracyAwakening.org.
Throughout this People-A-Palooza, there will be an energizing balance of seriousness and fun: how-to workshops, tub-thumping speeches, cultural exchanges, concerts, pop-up musical performances, direct-action trainings, art exhibits and shows, teach-ins, and other activities. Organized by such disparate groups as the Sierra Club, NAACP, Common Cause, Public Citizen, Greenpeace, and the Communication Workers of America, the Democracy Awakening expressly recognizes that progress on all of our issues has been walled in by corporate bribery funds, K-street lobbyists, crony capitalism and nefarious voter suppression. From climate change to the Walmartization of our economy to racial justice, they understand that none of us can advance until we all team up to tear down that wall.
The time has come. Six years after the Supreme Court’s malignant Citizen’s United ruling, nearly every American plainly sees how our nation’s historic “one person-one vote” political ethic of citizen equality has been buried in a roaring avalanche of money from corporations and the ultra-rich. Moreover, nearly nine years after Wall Street thieves wrecked our economy, the great majority also plainly sees that the Court’s turbo-charge of money politics has produced economic policies that richly reward the plutocratic robbers and coldly abandon the robbed. Americans know they’re being stiffed, for they’re experiencing it personally, and they’re furious at the business-as-usual/politics-as-usual establishment that has done it to them.
This powerful anti-Big Money sentiment is also what has fueled 2016’s establishment-stunning Bernie & Donnie presidential runs, and it’s why we democracy rebels should shift now from complaining about the plutocratic corruption of our country to stopping it. This hyper-political year is the time to move, for (1) the presidential and congressional elections will focus public attention on the political system for months to come, and (2) corporate and political cash will be on full display (from the Koch Brothers’ Billionaire Money Bash to the garish corporate sponsorship of both parties’ national conventions).
While all of the establishment forces have dourly told us commoners that we must resign ourselves to the New Citizens United Order of court-sanctioned rule-by-money, the people themselves have not accepted that. But where could they turn for help, since the leadership of both political parties either enthusiastically welcomed government by and for the 1-percenters (GOP) or — with a wink and a nod — agreed to go along with it (Dems) in exchange for getting their own share of big money donations? For six years, the broad public has been yearning for some one, some thing, some moment, to arise and rescue the founding ideals of 1776.
Well, here it is! And who are our rescuers? Us! You, me, and all the thousands of mavericks around the country ready to fire a new democratic “shot heard ‘round the world.” This will signal to the millions of frustrated Americans that they are not helpless in the face of plutocracy.
The moment is ripe to rally a People’s rebellion and make this election year the turning point for fundamental change. Simply getting such a diverse group of reformers to join hands in such an effort is an auspicious sign that maybe — just maybe — we can bind our forces into an effective populist movement for the long haul, rebuilding America’s democratic promise for the greater good of all.
Given the opportunity, don’t we have to go for it? I hope to see you in Washington!
Speaker, author and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.
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