"We are being bamboozled by lobbyists, it's time for democracy to be restored," Deepak Chopra told his guests, Arianna Huffington and Dylan Ratigan at a DeepakHomeBase (DHB) event this week. The topic? Getting money out of politics and ending corporate personhood, a theme central to Ratigan's new book, Greedy Bastards: How We Can Stop Corporate Communists, Banksters, and Other Vampires from Sucking America Dry. (To watch their conversation on livestream, go here.)
Dylan Ratigan contends that America is out of integrity. His book's premise is that the misalignment of values is seen at the highest levels of power and within each one of us.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, a recent guest at DBH had called the problem "kleptocracy," the theft of freedom, said Deepak. "What is the action step?" Deepak asked his guests. "The House is on fire -- before you solve the mysteries of the universe, you don't ask where the match came from, you first douse the fire. Because the political system is not helping us."
"When something is bad for everyone, we need a pattern interrupt," said Arianna Huffington. Citing the Trojan heroine, Cassandra, who in ancient times fruitlessly warned her oblivious compatriots of the upcoming invasion of Troy, "Cassandra felt frustrated that she was not being listened to," Arianna reported. "How do we communicate the truth? It's our responsibility to find the way to communicate."
"It's the way we reach decisions. It's too selfish." Ratigan said. "Take the guys I grew up with. These were people who lacked resources -- with their bad decisions, they can only destroy themselves and those close to them. With power and influence, people can affect others. Their decisions have systemic impact."
"America is overextended economically. But it's hidden, and we cover the pain. Reserve currency, oil, the banking tax codes, these are ways of gaming the system. When you turn the flow of resources away from investing in America, you are making decisions for short-term self-preservation. Instead, every problem should be seen as a potential job."
"All of the so-called regulations that protect democracy and help people are filtered and watered down. That is the pattern," said Arianna."A lot of the outrage people feel has shifted to resignation. Americans are afraid to be outraged. But if you can't transcend it, you have to express it."
Ratigan urged that we seek basic agreement with people we may not agree with on everything. He sees getting money out of politics as a unifying issue that benefits all Americans because it can restore the basic integrity of the democratic system itself. When corporations, erroneously defined by law as "people" unleash a flood of money into political campaigns, it overwhelms the person by person vote that's the foundation of democracy, allowing corporate will to determine elections. In this current Huffington Post, he explains why this issue is key.
Further, it's surreal to define corporations as people because as Bill Moyers told Stephen Colbert this week, "Corporations don't eat, drink, make love, raise children, or take care of aging parents."
"There are 311 million of us, 545 of them," Ratigan told the DHB crowd. "There is no way we can't win except if we fight with each other. We need to get the money out of politics for the benefit of our children."
"What is the world we want to create together? We need to act right now," said Arianna. "Don't wait. Find solutions - individual and collective."
"Even in the midst of a horrible prognosis there are solutions," Deepak emphasized.
"Every issue boils down to money in politics. Among all people from all sides of the spectrum, the sense of rejection and manipulation is palpable," Ratigan reports. "Unless we stop it, these industries can use their capacity to finance the government to advocate for policies that assure their ongoing gatekeeping. We can't let them prevent the rest of us from getting creative."
Fortunately, creativity abounds, and in addition to reading Greedy Bastards, here are a few ways to get involved:
Get Money Out is campaign that has so far amassed over 250,000 signatures and you can also share your story there via video.
DeepakHomeBase is running a text poll with the question, "Do you support a Constitutional Ban on corporate funding of political campaigns? People can text to 55678 to vote Yes, text DHBY. To vote No, text DHBN . At this writing, the results are 99%- Yes, and 1%- No.
Move to Amend is organizing Occupy the Courts, a January 20, 2012 nation-wide occupation of local, state, and federal courthouses aimed towards amending the rulings on corporate personhood. Their website has nationwide maps for courthouses, as well as instructions for making a "Corporate Personhood Costume." those feeling ultra-creative can craft.
Follow Alison Rose Levy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AlisonRoseLevy