Tag Archives: Constitution

Demand Democracy, Become your Senator

Look, lets talk about incentives for a second.  Right now the primary incentive of being in Political Office is a lucrative future in the lobbying industry. There aren’t a whole lot of jobs for unemployed ex-politicians other than consulting in some form or another.  Why the hell do you think the people in office would ever, in a million years, pass legislation screwing over the industries offering them a cushy future? Plane rides round the world, a sense of power sitting in well decorated offices drinking with other powerful men, money to keep living a big shot lifestyle – and all for far less work than something tough like actually using their law degrees. Then again, that may just be honest embarrassment; having ignored and twisted laws for their future employers for so long they may be a little ashamed of associating with the real thing on a daily basis.

How many of you have actually ever walked into your boss’s office and told them what a real, goddawful dick they are and how they mistreat people and use them and underpay them? Yeah, not too many I’ll bet. Why not? Because we know it’ll mean no more job, no more pay-check, no more healthcare. But thats what we’re asking our politicians to do, to pass laws that tell their future employers that actually, they think people ARE more important than profits, you know, like actually, not just on the corporate brochure. Sure, a few bold souls may do it. Those with the guts to tough out the real world when their time on the political cloud ends, those who believe their electorate will support them for standing up the man but bringing home less pork, perhaps even those with the kind of money that means they don’t care what some corporation wants… just one problem, thats still not a lot of people. Its not a majority, its certainly not a filibuster breaking majority and trust me, those politicians will find they can stay awake talking for DAYS when its their future millions on the line.

Ok, so lets be clear on this, the current breed of politician is not going to change their behaviour and vote for laws that protect people over corporations because the long term value of all the corporate gigs they can get far outweighs the value of being re-elected for doing what the people want (assuming people even have a choice of a candidate who hasn’t done even worse things). The current payout for being a politician is influence which creates future job opportunities and life-long security. Politicians are not going to change this incentive because it benefits them. So what do we do?

We need to elect people who go into office with a strict promise to get money out of politics, hunt down and eliminate laws that excessively curb freedoms in contradiction to the intents of the Constitution, and get America the hell out of any wars while we rebuild our own country.

Ok, so where do we find these people?

Walk down to your local Occupy site and look around you, or into a room of your friends, or into a mirror. Its time to Occupy Politics, because the current crop of politicians has a strong incentive to maintain the status quo: To allow banks to get too big to fail, To make Americans pay for banks bad bets while the banks rake in record profits, To arrest Americans with vastly excessive violence to discourage future protests, To bypass the constitution whenever its inconvenient, To keep not creating jobs because their corporate masters are pretty happy with record profits and insanely low labour costs. Its time for new politicians, and they are all around you.

Ok, but look, campaigns cost money, we can’t compete with the REAL political parties, can we?

Of course we can’t outspend them so we have to outplay them. The internet has changed how campaigns can be run. Anyone can shoot video, anyone can upload it to YouTube and share it with friends, almost everyone has a Facebook with a huge number of people they never actually talk to but can easily share video and messages with. The campaign can evolve. It hasn’t yet, but the tools are there if we want to use them. There are costs to be sure, to get on ballots, to register your campaign, but everything else is just about getting your message out and having enough people believe you’re electable to pull the lever. These days we all have that kind of reach through tools like Twitter and Facebook.  Will we use them? Or will they remain largely toys?

Your current Representative and Senators went to Washington with a dream, a dream of being really freaking rich for the rest of their lives. Lets send some new Reps and Senators to Washington, ones with a Dream of an America that’s Free, actually follows the Constitution, and doesn’t believe in nation killing tax policies.

Demand Democracy. Become your Senator.

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Constitutional Crisis

I think the time has come to talk about the larger issue the Occupy movement has revealed: Americans do not have the rights they believe they do.

The Occupy movement has many detractors. They claim the movement is disorganized. They claim the movement is leaderless (As if this is an issue. Crowd Sourced Leadership is a new concept, and scary for those used to clear directions, but it does seem to function.) They claim the movement is lazy, simply refusing to get real jobs. Ok, lets for a moment pretend that the people who believe these things are right. Lets pretend the Occupy movement are all a bunch of unwashed, lazy students protesting against a financial system which will never change because profits are too powerful a motivator. Let us pretend all of these things are true, because for the moment they do not matter; I am not interested in talking about the Occupy movement at the moment, but rather about the American Government and their reaction to it. For the purposes of this discussion it doesn’t matter if to you the Occupiers are Smelly Students or Radical Revolutionaries because the response to the movement is what you should be paying attention to, because that response will teach you a lot about your country.

Freedoms are complicated. When you grant a freedom (and as always I am wary of the concept that anyone should have the power to give or take freedoms, but I digress) many problems will always arise as a result. When you give people Freedom of Speech it means that you will have to listen to the lunatics alongside the loyal patriots. When you give people Freedom of Assembly it means that they will sometimes choose to assemble in inconvenient places and make a nuisance of themselves. When you grant people the freedom to be free from undue search and seizure it means that, yes, citizens COULD be walking around with backpacks full of drugs or weapons and there’s nothing you can do about it until you have proof. When you grant people the right to bear arms they may bring those arms to places that make you uncomfortable like bars or schools. When you grant the freedom to due process it means you may have to let people you know are guilty go because you have no proof. These costs may seem high to those tasked with protecting freedom, or even to those with the far simpler task of protecting people, but they are the cost of living in a free country.

Living in a free country means that sometimes the bad guy will win because the laws to stop him haven’t been written yet. Living in a free country means letting hate-mongers protest at funerals, not because their doing so is right, but because protecting their right to do so insures that you will still have the same rights tomorrow. Living in a free country means living in a complicated country and having to constantly analyse how you feel about the actions of others. Living in a free country means being angry a lot that others are using their rights in really stupid ways. Or annoying ways, like holding a huge protest right outside your apartment building. Living in a free country means you have to constantly think and constantly  deal with people doing things YOU DO NOT LIKE. That is the price of freedom, and it may seem expensive, but it has nothing on the price of tyranny. You haven’t seen that bill yet, but it has a lot of zeros and a lot of graves.

What the Occupy movement has done, if you’ve been paying attention on the right channels – which is to say not the ones you get on your TV -is revealed how little the Constitution means these days. The complications of freedom are being thrown out in exchange for laws which make things easier for the authorities and easier for businesses but cost the people everything. I’m not going to deny that having a protest right outside may not be so hot for a retail business, and that if I were the manager of that business I would be furious, but the needs of a small number of businesses to make a profit does not and should not rival the right of the people to freely assemble. The first amendment has been bypassed again and again in NYC by Police Officers blocking media access to protests or to arrest scenes. The first amendment has been just straight trampled when it comes to the right to peaceably assemble.

Lets talk about that right for a moment, the Right to Assemble and Petition the Government, a key clause of the first amendment. Americans need to wake up and realize that if the local or federal authorities can shut down a protest, yes, even a protest full of dirty, smelly, lazy hippes (we’re pretending here remember), then THEY THEMSELVES DO NOT ACTUALLY HAVE FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY. The right functionally does not exist. Local authorities are in direct violation of the United States Constitution when they clear out peaceful protests. The First Amendment doesn’t have in it, anywhere that I can find, the note: *As long as said assembly has filed the right paperwork, been approved in triplicate, and does not last for more than a few hours. The first amendment grants the right to assemble, not the right for people you agree with to assemble at times you like, the right for anyone to assemble with anyone else whenever they want. Local governments have stomped all over that right, and love or hate the Occupy protesters if you are an American you should be angry. Right now one of the laws of our land is on the books and being ignored blatantly and repeatedly without action or intervention from the Federal Government or Courts. That should make you angry and afraid.

If you do not agree that people should have the right to free speech, that’s fine, we have a constitutional amendment process by which you can seek to remove it as a law. Thats one of the great parts about the constitution, it planned for the needs of the people to protest abuses of authority and to demand change. If you disagree with freedom of speech there is a legal process by which you may seek to take it away, and that’s all well and good, if that’s what the American people want we can all vote to have it that way. What should frighten you and make you angry is that one of the Constitutional Amendments is being ignored. Not opposed, ignored. When the government is free to ignore its own laws you are no longer living in a Democracy. When the leadership of the nation will not speak out to protest the abuses of the Constitution you should be afraid. That, that is true Tyranny. Not the men who say “I am in charge” and then shoot you for disobeying them, those people are just run-of-the-mill jerks, but men who will tell you the law is one thing while enforcing another, those are men to fear and loathe.

You should be angry regardless of how you feel about Occupy Wall Street because the American government is letting its citizens know, loud and clear, that it has no plans to enforce or obey the Constitution, and that means the law is now what they say the law is in any given moment.

I think its time for a new political party: The Constitution Party. A party which goes to Washington with the same blood lust the Tea Party had for taxes but directed at guaranteeing freedoms. Not with making people use their freedoms a certain way, not with making people follow a particular moral code, but with making sure people have the freedoms the constitution guarantees, with rescinding any and all laws that violate these freedoms, and with educating Americans that freedom is complex. I confess, in my dream world this party would also be pro-people and anti-big-business, it would insist on campaign finance reform, it would insist on reinstituting Glass-Stegall to make sure American’s are free to live their lives without banks suddenly dropping their overdue gambling bills on them, but lets start small, lets start with a political party that goes to Washington to insist on the freedoms we already allegedly have.

Demand Democracy. Insist on the Constitution.

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