After the swearing-in of the first Congress elected by unlimited corporate election spending, 2011 went down as the year Congress fiddled while America burned. Republicans and Democrats both took their turns engaging in their fair part of naked corruption.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported on clandestine insider trading deals, where elected officials in Washington revealed key elements of legislation before passage, enabling financiers to turn huge profits. The National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Obama creates a legal gray area that could deny Americans due process rights. The same Congress that voted down creating millions of good-paying jobs for unemployed constituents without batting an eye is the same one seriously considering censorship of the internet.
Congress is well-deserving of its record-low approval ratings. In early December, Congress attracted thousands of activists for Take Back the Capitol, a week-long protest that staged dozens of sit-ins in Congressional offices and managed to shut down 4 blocks of K Street for an entire afternoon. That energy has persisted -- on the first day of the 2012 legislative session (and the fourth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street), Occupy is aiming to mobilize hundreds of thousands in Washington on Jan. 17.
At Occupy Congress' 11 a.m. national general assembly meeting, two solutions must be proposed -- to rally behind Sen. Bernie Sanders' Saving American Democracy amendment as a state-by-state effort to undo corporate personhood, and to immediately gather all numbers onto the steps of the Supreme Court in protest of the Citizens United vs. FEC ruling.
The corporate media's unkind one-sided Occupy coverage of our movement has hurt our image, steering focus on our camps instead of our cause. The news cameras' heavy favoring of the inarticulate and the unwashed has encouraged and enabled mainstream America to alienate and tune out family, friends and neighbors standing against a corrupt corporatocracy. Syndicated columnists and network commentators constantly accuse us of lacking focus or direction. But acting on these two solutions both solidifies the remaining resolve of the Occupy movement, and creates a winnable goal based on a central demand.
Just as Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge has become the rallying cry for conservatives at the federal and state levels, the Bernie Sanders anti-corporate personhood amendment can become a similar litmus test for all candidates who want support from the Occupy Movement. Just as Virginia's Ken Cuccinelli is rallying conservative state attorneys general to fight health care reform, progressive AGs can similarly mount a state-by-state campaign to challenge the constitutionality of Citizens United. Want the Occupy vote? Sign the anti-corporate personhood pledge.
Our constitution already makes it clear that no person may be owned by another person. Under that precedent, Wells Fargo would've never been allowed to acquire Wachovia. Newscorp, Disney, Viacom, CBS, Time Warner and GE wouldn't have been allowed to conquer the media.
A proposal to stand behind the Sanders amendment followed by mass arrests of thousands on the steps of the Supreme Court would be the perfect catalyst to a state-by-state movement focused on ending corporate personhood for good. When Occupiers get back to their cities, they could start by participating in Move to Amend's Occupy the Courts on Jan. 20.
While Occupy has made great strides in influencing the public dialogue, there is still a troubling void where a central, unifying rallying cry should be. Social movements can't be powered by raw emotion forever. If we want to win, 2012 must be the year we occupy SCOTUS.