We are entering a new era of politics. Occupy is the first mass movement that is being led by young people, that has no hierarchy and no pre-existing organizational or political base.
It has grown organically, from the bottom up. It has inspired millions of young Americans to believe, against all odds, that a great change is at hand. A transformation of our society from a greed-based, militaristic culture, to one of cooperation, caring and prosperity.
At Occupy Sebastopol, our General Assembly voted unanimously to remove sleeping tents that were not supported by our local government and many in our community, in return for a cooperative agreement with our City Council which allows us to maintain our First Amendment protest tent in our tiny, but highly visible, town square. Instead of arrests and evictions, our protest effort now works for justice in dialog and harmony with our community--a practice which we feel essential if we are to Be the Change we want to see.
Many media pundits mock and belittle the Occupy movement. In cities like Oakland and New York, armies of riot police have tried to shut it down. Yet growing majorities support it. In just a few short months, it has accomplished a seismic shift in public debate, from a false urgency to cut the deficit, to a new national awareness of income disparity and joblessness.
Meanwhile, the powers that be, the corporations and billionaires, whose campaign donations have allowed them to effectively control many members of both parties of Congress, are more worried about real change than they have ever been.
Because this movement is not about a political leader, or a party coming to power. It is about the people coming to power. And unlike a person, a movement cannot be bought off.
The time has come to stand up, as citizens, to make the systematic changes needed to thrive, and perhaps even to survive. Our existing political establishment will not support these changes. Congressional incumbents have brought us to where we are today. A new Pew Research Center poll found that only 20% of Americans want to see most incumbents re-elected to Congress. For every protester in the streets, there are a hundred voters fed up with business as usual in Washington.
We, "the 99%" are ready to reclaim a democracy hijacked by 30 years of class warfare successfully waged by the corporations, billionaires, and banks. This has resulted in the largest redistribution of wealth upward in the history of any modern democracy. It has brought us a system in which health services and colleges have been cut to the bone, while corporations like Exxon pay virtually no taxes, and hedge fund billionaires pay half the real tax rate as their janitors.
What's next for Occupy? In the 2012 Elections, We, the People, will fire hundreds of corrupted members of Congress from both parties. In their place, we will run challengers in primaries and the general election. These insurgent candidates will refuse corporate and lobbyist money. As a result, they will have the support of the pro-Occupy majority--and the integrity to re-create a government that serves the needs of the citizens it governs.
These "fresh democracy" candidates, not incumbents, will be the ones who will vote for real change, like getting money out of politics. Instead of using millions of dollars worth of corporate-funded TV ads to get elected, they will win with the support of millions of citizens who use their social and personal networks to communicate real political information, at no cost, to every voter they know.
Next month, on Martin Luther King Day, we will launch the post-partisan, non-profit OccupyGovernment.org campaign to help make this peaceful revolution at the ballot box a reality.
The allegiance of a "pro-99%" Congress will not be to the funders of their political campaigns, or to any political party. It will be to the people of our great nation, as we vote in the most transformative election of our lives.
Jonathan Greenberg, a journalist, author and new media entrepreneur, is the Executive Director of the new non-profit BeYourGovernment.org. Thirty years ago, he was the lead reporter behind the creation of the Forbes 400 listing of the wealthiest Americans.
Cross-posted from PressDemocrat.com.
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