Three years ago, I left my 15-year career as a financial professional, because I was disgusted and disturbed by the rampant evidence of corruption in the relationship between our banking system and our government.
At the time the Tea Party was emerging and I was confident that between their exploding wave of anger and our newly minted president's soaring aspirations for all of us -- we would align to confront and resolve the blatantly corrupt relation ship between banking and our government and more broadly BUSINESS and STATE.
I was sure that the obviously aligned interests of Obama's constituents combined with the Tea Party's libertarian dogmas about money and government, that rigorous bank reforms in simple, fair and transparent way would follow. And more importantly, I believed Obama's energy and the Tea Parties would align to separate BUSINESS and STATE in order bar banks, or any other special interest from corrupting policy in a way that breaches fundamental fairness in our nation and prevents adaptation in a time of rapid change.
Their combined wave of energy was magnificent. Obama, scintillating and inspiring, harnessing a digital wave and the Tea Party, raw and rebellious screaming in unison: "We're not going to take this any more!"
Little to none of this happened and I was wrong. And I feel I must do something about it.
As it turns out, I'm not alone. In just five days, 80,000 of us have signed a petition to get money out of politics. To make this happen, we will need to grow this movement, and that starts with your voice.
When we hit 100,000 signers, we're going to do a special show on getting money out of politics from Washington DC, deliver our 100k signatures to Congress and issue what we call a "High Surf Alert." Attached to the high surf alert will be a link to a 3-paragraph letter from all of us explaining that we have signed this petition with the intent to send it to others.
This way we can harness the wave to grow our effort, lest we waste it on a bought and paralyzed government. When we are bigger we can then direct our attention at them.
I want explain to my viewers why we feel so strongly about this.
You can tell me your story in one of two ways. One, click here and leave a comment on why you want to get money out or two, film yourself talking about GetMoneyOut.com, put it on YouTube and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will use these video clips and stories on my show. I want people to see that it's not just me, that there are hundreds of thousands of us, millions of us, with one message: Get. Money.Out.
After 3 years of doing my best to marshal resources with dozens of impassioned collaborators to highlight obvious corruptions and solve problems together on TV, in person and on the Internet -- I found it doesn't matter what I or anyone else thinks or does about a given policy idea -- because the entire media, and the two-party political apparatus that sets the debate is being funded by a relatively narrow group of major interests and any solution that threatens those funders is simply never discussed.
While our healthcare, educational, banking, military, energy, trade and tax policies all have great room for improvement, I believe that the events of the past few years make it clear that until we get money out of our political system, we cannot begin on any of it.
I recently learned that 94% of the time the candidate that raises the most money wins. Policy, race, gender, tie color... voice. Age all can be ignored in a candidate because -- 94% of the time the candidate that raises the most money wins.
So this past weekend when I saw the Occupy Wall Street/Occupy America protests spontaneously erupting in 60 cities, as the New York protestors heading into their 3rd week -- I decided to walk over Friday evening to Zuccoti Park to see what they were doing.
I live 5 blocks away and worked 2 blocks from the square they are in for years, this Friday was one of my first trips back to that street corner in years and I was both fearful and excited to see what was going on. I have also never been to a protest like this.
On the Internet it said their message is this:
"Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%."
They said they we non-violent, had a policy of no drugs or alcohol in the Park, and didn't allow bullhorns or amplifiers of any kind -- they communicate by repeating out loud a given speakers words in short sentences. The short sentence requirement for speakers (not easy for me!!) has the duel benefit of keeping speeches short -- and avoids that being "talked at" feeling that can result from electrical speech amplification.
When I arrived Friday there was a boisterous crowd in good spirits from all walks of life -- the hippies, young people and Tea Partiers I expected -- the old ladies and local lawyers I was encouraged to see as evidence for this groups broader appeal.
I was able to talk to different groups over a few hours and it was clear that we were in agreement. Our government is bought, and we need to do something about it. In fact, you don't have to go to Zuccoti Park or any other protest to know that!
Unrelated to any of these protests, we have started this petition to get money out. We have done so because we all agree, that until we do so, we will be prevented from engaging in the debate we all desperately need on virtually every issue to end this corruption.
I wanted them to know that I agree with them and that I support their principle, to learn from them and share with them my own efforts.
I asked on Friday if I could return the next day, Saturday, to address their General Assembly in their unusual speak and repeat fashion in Zuccoti Park. They told me if I came back the next day and signed up at 630 I could secure 5 minutes, I did so and a few hours later was granted time to speak.
Here is what I told them:Dylan at Occupy Wall St by Dylan Ratigan
"My name is Dylan. I live five blocks from here. I think you people are crazy. I love the way you communicate. The world has noticed your voice. You have been here for three weeks, and you should be very proud of what you have accomplished. For fifteen years I worked as a financial services professional. Have you guys said that yet? I can't believe I'm here talking to you. I'm here because I agree with you. I made the decision three years ago to leave the financial services industry. I did that because it was clear that the financial services industry was purchasing both political parties. I believe that the fundamental problem with our collective desire to demand the debate America deserves is that both of our political parties are funded by well-heeled individuals, because they are bought. So I have been asking myself what the hell I'm going to do about this. I have decided that I am going to devote all of my resources, whatever those resources may be, with the knowledge that the decision to devote resources is much more important than what your resources are. I believe that you and every other group of people who know for a fact that the government is bought and are making the decisions to make 2012 the year our voice will be heard. I ask myself -- what do I do with my voice? I look at myself like an angry villager. I am irate. I know that if I cannot harness my personal rage for positive change I will harm myself and not help anybody else. My question to myself has been how do I harness fire in myself? You can either burn yourself in the town square or you can deliver a single a message to your government. My message is that the government is bought. If we do not separate business and state, and harness this energy to make that the central mission of this years' election we cannot begin to do the work we have to do. Thank you for giving me some of your time and congratulations on your success. "
I agree with their principle, I don't know what will become of their movement, but I know I want to help them because I agree with them. I also agree with Ron Paul, Lawrence Lessig's #rootstrikers and millions of other disgusted and disenfranchised American's who know that their government is bought and are mad as hell about it.
In fact I think the singular message of ending our corrupt government function and the money that changes hands to facilitate it is the one goal almost every shares. Not surprisingly our efforts at aligning in a world of divisive issues makes us an underdog. Last week Politico described our effort like this:
"MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan is bent on banning money from political campaigns through a constitutional amendment, which is about as likely as the Cubs winning the World Series the night lightning twice strikes a massive earthbound asteroid."
But I believe if we approach the disparate communities with humility and shared principle, and a narrow focus, from Occupy Wall Street to factions of the Tea Party and beyond -- to offer support, debate and learning, we have in 2012 our best chance yet to end the blatantly corrupt relationship between BUSINESS and STATE.
The battle for me it has how best harness all the fire that I feel for actionable positive change.
Since I devoted myself to this issue of about how blatantly corrupt our government has become -- I feel I have tried three methods to resolve it:
1. Scream! -- It felt good to express myself, but I found it to be an intense energy that alienated people with no positive harness to direct it.
2. Fight! -- This also felt good, but rarely led to any resolution or positive action.
Or 3. -- Help! Convert that rage into action everyday FOR something that is based on broad principle with a narrow goal.
I believe our decision to form this petition and use our voice to demand a real debate about an Amendment to get Money Out of politics in 2012 gives all of us something to be FOR -- and a tool that can do it. We may agree to nothing, but can we all agree to do this.