We Need a 99% Spring!
By David Hatch
Last night Bill Moyers interviewed NPA Executive Director George Goehl on his program, Moyers and Company. George did a great job explaining the need for the ‘99% Spring’ and Bill Moyers continues to distinguish himself as a man deeply committed to true journalism as well as to covering the lives of everyday people, unlike so many in the mainstream media who only talk to the Wall Street and Washington elite.
What is the 99% Spring and why do we need one? The 99% Spring is an ambitious program to provide 100,000 people a popular analysis of what’s happening to our economy and our democracy and train them in the methods of non-violent direct action including, for those who choose that route, civil disobedience. It is necessary for essentially the same reason the Arab Spring was necessary in the Spring of 2011: A profound lack of democracy and economic opportunity. This is not hyperbole, but a realistic look at our current reality.
In the year, leading up to this November’s national elections it is projected that $10 billion will be spent on the presidential race alone. How much of this money will come from folks like you and me? Very, very little. How much influence will we have relative to those giving all that money? Even less! If this were not the case, Congress would be acting completely differently on a host of issues that polling consistently shows the great majority of Americans support but big corporations and the wealthy elite do not. So those things are not done.
What are those things?
- Ending taxpayer subsidies to highly profitable oil companies and shifting public investment to clean and renewable energy to save the planet and reduce our dependency on foreign nations;
- Investing in our crumbling infrastructure and creating pubic sector jobs to do that work and fuel the economy;
- Regulating the big Wall Street banks that crashed the economy and were saved by our tax dollars;
- Taxing corporations and the rich, including ending the Bush tax cuts and creating of a financial speculation tax for Wall Street trading.
I could go on and on. It does not matter what the public overwhelmingly supports or desires, but only what big corporations desire. Big donors tell “our” legislators what to legislate and control the regulatory apparatus to ensure that legislation is interpreted in a favorable manner. Even the Supreme Court has become a tool of corporate power that rules that corporations are favored persons, money is speech and, in the case of Bush vs Gore, even fixes elections.
If we do not change this system of corporate dominance that thwarts the public interest and the people’s wishes we will see the final destruction of the American middle class, American democracy and the very planet that sustains us. We will continue to see unwanted but profitable wars and obscene levels of military spending, drug laws that incarcerate far more people than any nation in the world into an increasingly profit-driven prison industry, health care as a commodity rather than a human right, and a deregulated financial industry that plays craps with pension fund and taxpayer money and rewards itself with bonuses for crashing the global economy.
So how can the 99% Spring challenge corporate power and change these undemocratic patterns? Any movement entails a wide variety of ideas, but here are some basic components I would put forth:
1) It will sever its devotion to election cycles and democrat vs. republican choices as an end game. Gore Vidal rightly said that there is one party in America, the corporate party, with its two branches: the republican branch and democratic branch. As long as money dominates our elections, even our most progressively prone politicians are compromised.
2) It will insist on a new politics and economy based on a radically different narrative and set of ethical principles. We must end the narrative of the past 30 years: “kill government and let the private market determine every social good” This has meant that everything from criminal justice, to health care, to education, to the environment and even the military “should be up for sale and operated for private profit”. It will not be replaced by more realpolitik, winnable issue cuts, parochial concerns, single issue organizing, identity politics or policy papers. It will only be realized by a broad movement of ordinary people energized by a new vision of our collective life as human beings on planet earth. We must reject the old paradigm at every turn.
3) It will require a level of engagement unknown to America in decades, maybe ever! Thinking the right thoughts, reading the right books and articles or posting things on Facebook will not take us there. Vastly increasing numbers of people need to educate themselves about what is going on and take direct personal responsibility for changing it! This means not only phone calls and petitions but coming out to actions and demonstrations, joining boycotts, moving your bank accounts and business relationships, joining organizations, attending meetings, securing training, and maybe even getting arrested. There is no other choice. Either you care about democracy and environmental survival or you do not! You are either the problem or the solution, there is no in between.
Please begin this month by attending a 99% spring training where you will meet up with others in the movement and prepare to take back our democracy and our future. If you are in the Chicago area, you can attend one of the two trainings listed below. If you are not, please visit http://the99spring.com/ to find a training event near you.
Join one of our 99% Spring Trainings:
Rogers Park with Northside P.O.W.E.R.
Saturday, April 14, 9:00 a.m. – Noon
Willye B. White Community Center
1610 W. Howard St., Chicago, IL
Please RSVP to Cindy Bust at 773-262-2297 x22 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Near South Side with SOUL
Saturday, April 14, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Sixth Grace Presbyterian Church
600 E. 35th Street
Please RSVP to Will Tanzman at email@example.com