#DemocracySpring: Only Direct Action Will Save America
Corruption is an ugly fact in America. Every single issue that we face today, from climate change to raising the minimum wage, ending mass incarceration to tackling income inequality, is influenced by the massive sums of money which flow through our political system.
This all began with the Supreme Court ruling 5-4 in favor of Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in 2010, proclaiming that because a corporation is considered a person, they have the First Amendment right to free speech, which somehow includes independent political spending. This led to the creation of SuperPACs, which can receive unlimited sums of money from campaign contributors. This chart, courtesy of the Center of Responsive Politics, shows the explosion in political spending since the ruling.
In 2014, the Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon vs. the FEC further diluted what was left of our democracy, removing aggregate limits for individual donors. While there are still limitations on how much an individual can give to a certain candidate, political party, or PAC, this ruling gave them the ability to contribute to as many different committees as possible, fueling the rise of super JFCs, joint fundraising partnerships which allow large donors to contribute huge sums of money that are split into funding for a multitude of campaigns and organizations.
These Supreme Court rulings have effectively destroyed what was left of our democratic republic. We now live in a corporate oligarchy, where big money donors have absolute control over the economic and political life of our nation. Money in politics isn’t just a buzzword or a wedge issue, but impacts every single aspect of our lives.
For instance, we can’t enact the environmental regulation we need to shift to clean energy and save our planet because the entire Republican party, funded by big oil magnates like the Koch Brothers, refuse to even acknowledge that climate change exists.
We can’t prevent the United States from becoming involved in a state of endless war because our foreign policy is crafted by leaders who receive millions from defense contractors and the military-industrial complex.
We can’t end mass incarceration because the private prison industry donates millions to members in both the Democratic and Republican parties.
We cannot enact meaningful bank regulations, lower interest rates on student debt, or regulate Wall Street to prevent another financial collapse because the largest financial institutions have undue influence on members of both parties.
Americans think that we have two options, Red or Blue, but whichever side you choose represents the wants of big-money special interests, leaving no viable party truly fighting for the needs of the American people.
We are seeing this not only reflected in the gridlock which infects Congress and makes meaningful legislation impossible, but in the 2016 Presidential race.
Lawrence Lessig, co-founder of MAYDAY.US, ran a unique campaign for the democratic nomination last year, focused on a singular platform of passing the Citizen Equality Act of 2017, which would enact automatic voter registration, designate Election Day as a national holiday, end political gerrymandering, and establish public funding of elections. He was able to raise $1 million to start his campaign, and was polling at 1% near the time of the second Democratic debate last fall, so the Democratic National Committee (DNC) changed the rules, ensuring that his important voice couldn’t be heard by a nationwide audience.
The political revolution sparked by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has grown into a massive nationwide grassroots movement, which is also experiencing unprecedented suppression from the DNC, particularly Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The party only scheduled six debates, and enacted a ban on any candidate participating in unsanctioned debates. They finally relented and added three more debates after their preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton, nearly lost Iowa amid the Sanders Surge.
It isn’t only this particular election either, as the entire electoral system of the Democratic Party is specifically built to minimize the voice of the people, while granting huge influence to superdelegates, major party figures who can vote for whomever they want, regardless of the choice of their constituents. While this normally wouldn’t be an issue, their vote is equal to one entire delegate, empowering their voice over the votes of the masses. This rejection of the traditional “one person one vote” paradigm prevents activists from electing a popular candidate who has the support of the people, but lacks the backing of the establishment.
Throughout the United States, these mechanisms combined with massive corruption makes any sort of meaningful change impossible. While there is a time and place for working within the system, voting in national, state, and local elections, this hyper-rigged electoral system has given us no choice but to put our bodies on the line, sacrificing our own freedom to save America.
This upcoming April, in the middle of a tumultuous election season, thousands of activists from across the country will convene in Washington D.C. and put their bodies on the line in a week-long act of civil disobedience. The event, Democracy Spring, is being sponsored by a broad coalition which includes labor (AFL-CIO), environmental groups (Friends of the Earth, Center for Biological Diversity), religious organizations (Jewish Voice for Peace, Occupy Catholics) and the progressive grassroots (MoveOn, Democracy for America, and Democratic Socialists of America).
This historic action begins on April 2nd, with a large rally at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, followed by a week-long march to Washington D.C.. Once there, thousands of people will risk arrest for the entire week from April 11th - 16th, committing the largest civil disobedience ever seen for meaningful campaign finance reform.
We will demand that Congress listen to the People and take immediate action to save our democracy. And we won’t leave until they do — or until they send thousands of us to jail, along with the unmistakable message that our country needs a new Congress, one that that will end the legalized corruption of our democracy and ensure that every American has an equal voice in government.
Over 2000 people have already pledged to risk arrest, and there are regional organizing hubs being formed throughout the country. Visit DemocracySpring.org to learn more and join the resistance!
“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” - Pablo Neruda