This is What Democracy Looks Like

05/17/2010 05:51 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • George Goehl Executive Director, National People’s Action and National People's Action Campaign

Today, thousands of everyday people came to Washington DC for a Shutdown of K Street. The message was simple: Reclaim our democracy and hold Wall Street accountable.


Retirees and students, family farmers and health care workers, teachers and clergy came together to literally shut down the intersection of 14th and K Street. The action was part of a series of events designed to draw a direct connection between Wall Street and other unaccountable corporations, their K Street lobbyists and the Members of Congress who do their bidding.

Big banks and their lobbyists have hijacked our democracy. Despite foreclosing on millions of families, sending our economy to the brink of collapse and needing a $700 billion taxpayer bailout, big banks are now spending $1.4 million dollars a day to defeat reform. A new report by Campaign for America's Future and the Public Accountability Initiative shows that both parties are equally hooked on big bank money.

But it's not just the banks - one of the great challenges facing the American people is unregulated and unaccountable corporations that drive wages down and health insurance costs up, strip wealth from communities, and destroy our environment. Whether it's big banks driving the economy to the brink and then lobbying to prevent reform, or big oil pushing for less oversight and then destroying our environment, Americans are on the losing end of a system where big money rules our politics.

As a country we have to decide if we are going to continue to allow the big corporations, whether it be big banks or big oil, control our legislative process. Or are we going to reclaim our democracy and advance an agenda that finally puts people first.

What is clear from today's Showdown on K Street is that more and more Americans are ready to join the fight to reclaim our democracy.

Democracy only lives up to its promise when it is in the hands of the people. Right now it's in the hands of corporations and their lobbyists. But if today was any indication, the American people are ready to take it back.