Sunday, July 15, 2012

Declaration of the 99%Delegation's Continental Congress 2.0

If you had been wondering why I have not been posting more material lately, in part it was because I spent 11 days out of town in various travels, including a weekend with my son, daughter-in-law & sweetie of an 8-month old grandson, + a trip to the NEA national convention in DC (where I got to speak to the AZ delegation and to the Peace and Justice Caucus). But mostly I spent three days in Philadelphia as an elected representative for this part of the state of Arizona to the 99% Delegation's convention, where we drafted a petition for redress of grievances which we read at Independence Hall on July 4th complete with parade permit and some press. Originally intended to be a formal arm of the larger Occupy Movement and taking place at the same time in the same city as the Occupy National Gathering, the 99D convention brought together 70+ delegates from local Occupy movements from across the country to visualize what the main challenges are that our country is facing and how to address them. We had some brilliant minds from various fields, and from various political stripes, all learning how to work together for the good of our country. As such it was a noble experiment in and of itself; but i am profoundly impressed with the work we accomplished and this short public announcement is a good summing up of the larger document we created that proposes solutions to these grievances. The full length project is still being refined and our work to promote these goals goes on. But here is the text that was read on the 4th with flags flying and crowds cheering.

I worked explicitly on the section on immigration, but helped out with a couple of other committees and am still serving on the ongoing Education committee. I post this here as a way of spreading our message and encouraging us all to take a stand to save our country from the disaster that's been made of it. As the original Philadelphia Declaration exhorted us: it is the duty of the citizens to alter, or even abolish a government that is detrimental to our citizens. If ever there was a time to call for the reforming of a more perfect union, this is it:

 Continental Congress 2.0
Petition for a Redress of Grievances

A New Declaration

The people have the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
BE IT RESOLVED THAT WE, THE PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in order to form a more perfect Union, by, for and of the People, have convened a NEW CONTINENTAL CONGRESS this week of July 4, 2012 in the City of Philadelphia. We, the people, have deliberated, drafted and ratified a PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES to be served upon the United States Congress, Supreme Court, and President, prior to November 6, 2012.
Our country is beset by problems too large to fit comfortably under rubrics like liberal, independent, or conservative.  

No single label fits, and no single ideology suits, but what we all have in common is that we are all (left, right, and center) being marginalized and defeated by the moneyed interests of the 1% as we struggle for life, liberty, happiness, comfort, and health.  The 1% have enjoyed inordinate power and influence over our lives as they spread propaganda through the corporate media, and extract our nation’s wealth, only to deposit it out of the country.  All the while, the 1% are delighted by our inability to recognize and address our common plight in any meaningful way.


We are the truckers, the teachers, the first-responders, the engineers, the self-employed and unemployed, the off-grid and organic farmers as well as the cutting-edge, fully-wired, 4G digital entrepreneurs. We are the butchers, the bakers, the builders and the makers.  We are the foundation of our country!  

We gather in Philadelphia for a cause larger than ourselves. If we are to succeed in taking back our country we must put aside the petty partisan differences that might divide us.  We must recognize that many of those differences have been created and demonstrated by the 1% in their efforts to maintain control and profits at our expense.

We will not agree on everything and that is to be expected.  We only need to agree on ONE THING:

American Government cannot continue to be sold to the highest bidder.

Another group of Americans joined together in Philadelphia over the days leading up to what we now proudly call Independence Day.  Those Georgia planters, New York bankers, Massachusetts lawyers and Virginia scholars had radical differences and little in common when they began, but they finished by signing a Declaration that gave birth to our great nation and changed the world.  We, too, can change the world by renewing their vision and our democracy.

We petition the government for redress of the following grievances:

Our government has allowed organizations to have undue influence over policy decisions affecting the people.   The rights of organizations, including corporations, nation states, labor unions, and other collected bodies, are not the same as living human beings.  No single organization shall have more influence over our government than that of an individual citizen.  Corporations are not people. 

Our government has allowed freedom of speech to be corrupted by the influence of money.  Money is property, not speech. 

Our electoral system has been unjustly weighted in favor of two major political parties.  This, in combination with enormous campaign expenditures has subverted our democracy and discouraged citizens from participating in the electoral process.

Our current political system allows for the legal bribery of our government officials.  They have been part of a “revolving door” with the private lobbying sector and have engaged in insider trading with the very companies they are charged with regulating. 

Mainstream media, with no regard for the public they are meant to serve, have misled and misinformed the people, suppressing informed debate and crippling democracy in their single-minded pursuit of profit.

Our privately-controlled and exploitative monetary system, unjust trade policies, and regressive tax system, which greatly favor the 1%, are increasing inequality and eroding the American dream.

Our congress has aided and abetted a massive fraud by predatory lenders, bankers, speculators, and financiers which has deprived millions of Americans of their homes, property, and livelihoods.

Our government has not recognized our right to clean air, clean water, untainted soil, and safe food.  It has failed or refused to enact and enforce laws preventing the destruction of our natural ecosystem, willfully ignoring empirical evidence of significant harm caused by human interaction with the environment.

Our government has failed to protect essential civil liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. American citizens should not be indefinitely detained without due process of law. Their rights to privacy and freedom of speech on the internet should be ensured, and the choices of romantic partners must not be restricted by the government.

Our country imprisons more people per capita than any other country in the world to feed the profits of the growing private prison-industrial complex.  Many people are imprisoned for non-violent drug crimes causing harm only to themselves while white collar criminals, who have defrauded the American people, walk free.

Our congress has abdicated its responsibility for the declaration of war, allowing the United States military to engage in unconstitutional military actions and occupations abroad.  There is an unacceptable lack of transparency in negotiations between the military and multi-national industrial contractors who profit from perpetual war.

After Congress has allowed or required our men and women to be sent into military action, it has failed to uphold its promises of benefits and medical care to those who have served unless they have been physically injured.  This is not right.

Our government has failed to prevent healthcare, insurance, and pharmaceutical companies from profiteering off of the illnesses and injuries of the American people.  The for-profit healthcare system is immoral and economically unsustainable.

The current state of our education system is abysmal and under-funded.  Without a well-educated populace, a democracy cannot adequately provide for its own common defense or promote the general welfare.

Our government has been derelict in its duty to substantially and equitably invest in the productivity of its people by supporting job training initiatives that will create more domestic employment opportunities and enable our workforce to transition to an independent renewable energy economy.

Our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and the United States territories’ have been disenfranchised as voters.  This is incompatible with American representative democracy.  We recognize the right of Puerto Rico to become a state of the Union.

Citizens of the District of Columbia have been unjustly deprived of their right to determine their own governance.  They have been denied congressional voting rights and control over their own local affairs.  We recognize the right of the District of Columbia to self-determinative government.

Our current immigration laws have created a second class of underground human beings and led to the exploitation of millions of workers. These laws promote racism, create a culture of fear and distrust, and betray our proud tradition as a nation of immigrants.

We will be delivering the forgoing list of grievances, along with suggestions for their redress, to all branches of the federal government in the coming weeks.  The American people expect a timely response.  If our grievances are insufficiently addressed, we will take legal action in federal court seeking injunctive relief. 

The sovereignty of the United States derives from WE, THE PEOPLE. 

We will be heard.

And…in time -- pushing through obstacles, overcoming set-backs, and basking in hard-won victories -- we WILL restore our democracy.

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