Blue Mass Group’s Bob posted recently some possible demands for the Occupy movement. As I see it, there’s a lot that needs fixing right now to get back America of FDR’s New Deal and Johnson’s Great Society (and even Reagan’s tax rates, not that they were progressive enough). I’d classify our need for policy action in 3 big areas, or buckets: the holding big banks accountable and preventing future financial disasters bucket, the solve the unemployment emergency job creation bucket, and the democracy bucket. I leave it to others to get the ball rolling on ideas for the first two buckets, democracy is my area of focus. Here are some possible demands. These shouldn’t be the demands just of the Occupy people. These demands are for all of us.
- We need to amend the Constitution to forbid corporate political contributions and make it clear — free speech is for people, not for corporations. The first step is to get Congress — our Senators and Representatives — on board.
- We’ve got to protest the political spending and lobbying of corporations and get them to promise to end it.
Level the playing field to give the 99% the same political power as the 1%.
In 2010, it cost $1.4 million on average to win a race for US Congress in 2010. If you weren’t a wealthy candidate, you had to spend a ton of your time raising money, and it’s the 1% who can give in $5,000 chunks.
- Let’s have people-owned elections. Candidates who agree to give up on all the big dollar fund-raising and raise enough small contributions should see their $5, and $10, and $50 and $100 donations matched from public money. Senators, Members of Congress, and state legislators can pass laws to set up people-owned elections.
- The Supreme Court has said money = speech. They’ve said wealthy candidates have an unlimited right to spend billions. They’re wrong. We need to get an amendment to allow the regulation of campaign expenditures so everyone has an equal chance to have their say in elections.
Protect the voting power we have right now.
Voting matters. Your right to vote is currently under threat from some of the very politicians who are supposed to be working for you. All over the US, people are facing obstacles to prevent them from voting and being intimidated at the polls — and these laws are aimed squarely at poor people, young people, and people of color. We can’t let this stand.
- Oppose laws meant to exclude people, such as those requiring voters to present current and valid government-issued photo ID.
- Get rid of voter registration systems designed to exclude people, and let people register online.
- Allow Election Day correction that protects your right to vote. If a citizen’s name doesn’t appear on the registration list, they should be allowed to register right there on Election Day.
- Make sure voting machines get audited in public so you can know your ballot was counted right, so no shenanigans, hacking, or human or mechanical errors can cause your vote to be lost or miscounted.