Okay, so we’re not New York City or San Francisco. We’re not Oakland or London or Washington, D.C. Nonetheless, our sprawling, politically and culturally diverse, not-so-little patch of Silicon Valley-feeding suburbia is participating in the OWS movement that made 2011 a year to remember… and we’re only getting started.
Thanks to the initiative of inspired local youth and civic-minded houses of worship, Fremont Occupiers have been gathering for over two months now, in numbers that have ranged from a dozen or so to more than a hundred… and now we’ve established a core group of concerned — and positively energized — citizens, meeting weekly to share our ideas about how we can contribute to our society.
So far, we’ve been having our weekly GENERAL ASSEMBLY AT NOON at Veteran’s Park on the southwest corner of Walnut Avenue and Paseo Padre (if you’re in the neighborhood, why don’t you JOIN US on SATURDAYS — sometimes people bring FOOD!). We’ve been sharing our facts, concerns, and ideas regarding local, state, national, and even global issues — in the understanding that, as (relatively) economically privileged individuals residing in the remains of a free and open society, we bear a special responsibility to exercise our voices and at least try to benefit our community.
We’ve begun to shape a process for introducing weekly “action items” for those who are motivated to act on any given issue. Thus far, we’ve discussed disappearing civil liberties, food safety (and availability), poverty, universal healthcare, police brutality (particularly with regard to the federally-coordinated crackdown on OWS camps), the co-option of justice by powerful elites, and national politics in a presidential election year, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s outrageous decision in Citizens United (determining, once and for all, that corporations are indeed PEOPLE — plantation owners and pirates, mostly).
Much interest has been expressed in contributing to local community gardens — and possibly establishing one of our own. Much angst has been shared about the transformation of America, in the post-9/11 era, into a nation whose laws are virtually indistinguishable from regimes traditionally considered AUTHORITARIAN. There have also been discussions about the classic dilemma for American liberals: How can I not vote for Bill Clinton/Barack Obama/the Far-Right Democrat, when the Republican alternative seems to be an irrational, barely disguised KKK-throwback and champion of Gilt Age inequality?
(This is the part where I offer “good advice for 2012.” Please understand that I am NOT speaking as a representative of Occupy Fremont or OWS, but simply as an INDIVIDUAL.)
GOOD ADVICE for 2012: ABANDON THE THOROUGHLY CORRUPT ESTABLISHMENT that has sold you out 100% and views you the way a great white shark views a lone, badly hemorrhaging baby porpoise… asleep, with a broken tail. This year the rotten-to-the-core establishment has two champions: Barack Obama (Wall Street savior) and Mitt Romney (Wall Street avatar). All branding and empty, dissembling rhetoric aside, there has never been smaller divide between “Good Cop” and “Bad.”
Neither man has any regard for the Constitution or rule of law. Neither believes in due process, habeas corpus, Posse Comitatus, privacy rights, or Amendments I, IV, V, VI, or VIII (all of which are largely defunct, thanks to George W. Bush and, more surprisingly, Barack Obama). Neither man has proposed any serious remedy for keeping Americans in their homes, despite the fact that many of the foreclosed (and those facing foreclosure) were lied to and defrauded by habitually criminal banks (even ALAN GREENSPAN has said as much). Neither man has come close to offering a serious proposal for combating the looming threat of climate catastrophe (which they both ignore, almost as if it were the Constitution). Neither man has advocated for the kind of infrastructure investment that America SORELY needs (which could modernize and GREEN our waterworks, transportation, and power plants, while putting millions of Americans to work, revitalizing our economy, and making us far less dependent on foreign oil — a commodity for which we have gone to war).
Both men believe in elite immunity for lawbreaking government officials and corporations, endless/boundless/illegal war, elections-as-opaque-auctions, and unfettered oligarchy (which is destroying both the middle class and free markets). Both believe in trade pacts that efface national sovereignty and defile the environment while creating a global “race to the bottom” — oppressing workers, profiting our global rivals (India and China), and decimating the number of good jobs at home. Both are vigorous champions of the unfathomably brutal, racist, and farcically-counterproductive Drug War that fills expensive, for-profit prisons (disproportionately) with African-Americans and Latinos, and puts them to work for big corporations — virtual slave laborers, subject to all manner of abuses. Both have telegraphed an eagerness to restructure and slash Medicare and Social Security… while leaving corporations and plutocrats virtually untaxed.
WHAT CAN WE DO WHEN THE ESTABLISHMENT OFFERS US A CHOICE BETWEEN: A) DEATH BY ARSENIC and B) DEATH BY CYANIDE?
We can respond with a healthy, cleansing NONE OF THE ABOVE! (Stop falling for the “Good Cop/Bad Cop” farce and letting FEAR of “that other guy” determine your vote for the “lesser” evil — because both Good Cop and Bad Cop answer to the same ruthless mob!)
In this presidential election year, abandoning the establishment means throwing our support behind the most sensible and potentially electable anti-establishment figures running for office — and, for my money, that’s Ron Paul, on the right, who has been absolutely slandered by the media; and Rocky Anderson and the Justice Party, on the left. Both men have spent the past several years vociferously rejecting the stupidest and most morally atrocious policies that leading Democrats and Republicans have embraced.
It also might be time for the aroused rabble in our country (whether we’re calling ourselves Tea Partiers, Occupiers, Independents, or whatever) to UNITE BEHIND A SINGLE DEMAND (yes, it’s time) — and there’s no question in my mind about what that demand should be: DEMOCRATIZE OUR ELECTIONS AND CAMPAIGN FINANCE SYSTEM! It is absolutely imperative that we counter and neutralize the insanely outsized influence of private interests (and their lobbies) over our politicians and elections. This is the ONE priority that, if achieved, could pave the way for all kinds of beneficial policies, freeing our politicians to act on their better instincts instead of their campaign donors’ orders.
As unattainable as this goal may sound, OUR DISSENT IS POWERFUL and the oligarchs know this. Right now, they’re afraid of OWS and the intelligently obstinate conservative base that has, thus far, denied the establishment its easy coronation of Mitt Romney. IF ENOUGH OF US MAKE THIS DEMAND — and if we resist the establishment’s Divide & Conquer tactics — WE WILL SUCCEED (however, we also have to assure the powers-that-be that we don’t want their heads on pikes or their fortunes confiscated — for if we fail to do so, they will surely annihilate us and eat our children.)
*** THE BEST PART IS, IT’S NOT AS HARD AS IT SOUNDS *** Cleaning up our elections does NOT necessarily require that we first overturn Citizens United — that we somehow get our co-opted (bought and owned) politicians to pass an amendment to the Constitution which would put the kibosh on decades of legal precedents equating money with speech (a tall order of Olympian proportions — but not one we need to fill, at least not as the first order of business).
PASS ON THE FOLLOWING LINK TO AS MANY FRIENDS AS YOU CAN (for this way, I believe, THE ANSWER doth lie): Lawrence Lessig’s strategy for democratizing our campaign finance system and ending the shadow auctions that pass for American elections today, in which the side that spends the most money wins roughly 90% of the time: www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-december-13-2011/exclusive—lawrence-lessig-extended-interview-pt–2 Mr. Lessig has also written a book on this subject which I highly recommend: “Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress — and a Plan to Stop It”