Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Something a bit different today – the release from “An OWS Working Group Committed to Elect a Non-Partisan National General Assembly” is getting some attention, though based on the one thing I’ve seen at OWS, the “working group” isn’t mentioned by name. An OWS Snapshot post this afternoon included this:
Demands: A group claiming to be on the verge of issuing demands for #OWS has gotten the attention of a story hungry media. We are our demands. #OWS is conversation, organization, and action focused on ending the tyranny of the 1%.
And that seems to indicate the issuers of the Declaration are not directly tied to OWS. But of course, the whole “organic” process is, in part, about people being able to speak up. Decisions are generally worked out in the daily “General Assemblies,” but it’s possible some folks would decide to move on something like this “Declaration.” Regardless of any of that, it’s an interesting read, and one thing is clear: when it comes to direct, participatory democracy, there are people on Right and Left who get very, very nervous. Simply put, they fear losing control.
I’ll return to more updating tomorrow, but I see this as a basis for general conversation about Occupy. Via The99PercentDeclaration: (all emphasis mine)
WHEREAS THE FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION PROVIDES:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
WE, THE NINETY-NINE PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in order to form a more perfect Union, by, for and of the PEOPLE, shall elect and convene a NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY beginning on July 4, 2012 in the City Of Philadelphia.
I. Election of Delegates:
The People, consisting of all United States citizens who have reached the age of 18, regardless of party affiliation and voter registration status, shall elect Two Delegates, one male and one female, by direct vote, from each of the existing 435 Congressional Districts to represent the People at the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY in Philadelphia. Said Assembly shall convene on July 4, 2012 in the city of Philadelphia.
II. Meeting of the National General Assembly and Deliberation:
At the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, the 870 Delegates shall set forth, consider and vote upon a PETITION OF GRIEVANCES to be submitted to all members of Congress, The Supreme Court and President and each of the political candidates running in the nationwide Congressional and Presidential election in November 2012. The Delegates of the National General Assembly shall vote upon and implement their own agenda … (with the) goal of presenting a PETITION OF GRIEVANCES from the 99% of Americans before the 2012 elections.
III. Proposed Petition for the Redress of Grievances:
The PETITION OF GRIEVANCES shall be non-partisan and address the critical issues now confronting the People of the United States. … Below is a suggested list of grievances respectfully submitted by the OWS Working Group on the 99% Declaration. The final version of the PETITION OF GRIEVANCES voted upon by the Delegates of the National General Assembly MAY or MAY NOT include the following suggested issues … .
What follows is a list of twenty “grievances,” which include:
1. Implementing an immediate ban on all private contributions of money and gifts, to all politicians in federal office … to be replaced by the fair and equal public financing of all federal political campaigns… .
5. A complete reformation of the United States Tax Code to require ALL citizens to pay a fair share of a progressive, graduated income tax … .
6. Medicare for all American citizens or another single-payer healthcare system, adjusted by a means test … .
9. Passage of a comprehensive job and job-training act … .
10. Student loan debt relief. …
11. Immediate passage of the Dream Act and comprehensive immigration and border security reform … .
16. Immediate reenactment of the Glass-Steagall Act and increased regulation of Wall Street and the financial industry … .
18. An immediate one year freeze on all foreclosures to be reviewed by an independent foreclosure task force … .
20. An immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan … .
I selected as I did in an attempt to show the variety of “grievances,” not to indicate these are more important than others.
Here’s how they conclude The Declaration:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that IF the PETITION OF GRIEVANCES approved by the 870 Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY in consultation with the PEOPLE, is not acted upon by Congress, the President, and Supreme Court, to the satisfaction of the Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, said Delegates shall organize a THIRD, COMPLETELY NON-PARTISAN, INDEPENDENT POLITICAL PARTY to run candidates for every available Congressional seat in the mid-term election of 2014 and again in 2016 until all vestiges of the existing corrupt corporatocracy have been removed by the ballot box.
The Declaration efforts might be seen as one piece of the very much evolving process. Will it be helpful, divisive, irrelevant, a catalyst … or what? Participatory democracy playing out on a national, or rather international, stage.
(Photo via OWS)