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A primer for occupiers - and you

shock

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A PRIMER FOR OCCUPIERS - AND YOU
================================

COMMON DREAMS
October 28, 2012
"Published on Sunday, October 28, 2012 by Common Dreams
Home | Common Dreams

"You Can Vote, but Can You Vote for Democracy?
by Robert Shetterly

At a recent forum in a school, I asked ** “What are the essential attributes of a democracy?”
***
One after another, key attributes were named:

Freedom of Speech
***we agreed that we can’t have democracy without a free press because the people --- us --- who are ultimately responsible for the actions of the government, can’t do our job if we aren’t informed accurately. And it was agreed that we do not now have a free press because the major media are owned by corporations whose financial interests are not in supplying accurate information but in making profit & enhancing their images.
Accountability
*** Democracy depends on fair laws being written and enforced.
*** many of the actions and policies of the Bush administration (and now the Obama administration) violated the Constitution and the Geneva Accords and the Nuremberg Principles about preemptive war, torture, surveillance, due process, etc. Many of these laws are considered the most important laws we have. Breaking them is considered a crime against humanity. Certainly a crime against the notion of the rule of law. They are not being enforced now because it is not be politically expedient to do so. ***
Martin Luther King, Jr., said that the American Dream depends on the “security of justice,” that is, trusting that the law is equally just for everyone. That’s what’s meant by a level playing field. Tilt the field and democracy slides off.
***A few days ago a CIA agent named John Kiriakou was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison for having “outed” the name of another CIA agent who was instrumental in practicing torture for the US. At this time no person guilty of torture in any of the US torture scandals has been charged with a crime. The only person ordered imprisoned is John Kiriakou the man who tried to expose and stop it.
*** the Justice Department and President Obama have changed the definition of due process. The Constitution says that no citizen’s life may be taken by the state without due process --- meaning a court proceeding. It has been changed to mean that a group of high level people meeting in secret constitutes due process. ***
A man brought up that a democratic system can’t allow undue influence of money by campaign contribution or lobbying. If money gives rich people or corporations access to candidates and office holders and media that voters don’t have, democracy is lost. ***we now have a system completely permeated in the election and governing process with special interest money and corporate power.
Many people pointed to the Supreme Court Citizens United case of 2011 and the unlimited speech being allowed to enormous wealth. ***Corporations are not persons; they are not mortal; their resources and time are not limited as most people’s are; they do not have consciences --- their charters only require them to maximize profit; they do not ask children what they learned in school today. Instead, they think of children as young profit centers to be manipulated and groomed as consumers.
***Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis *** once said, “You can have a democracy or you can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of the few. You cannot have both.” Not only has great wealth permeated the legal, election, and media systems, but the divisions of wealth amongst the people is greater now than ever in our history and greater than all of the world’s other democracies. ***
Secrecy
***how can the people be the government if the government keeps secret the information that it uses to make its decisions?” ***
Justice *** based in fear, embraces anything --- preemptive war, torture, unwarranted surveillance, lying, targeted assassinations --- to maintain a sense of security. *** those behaviors are self-fulfilling prophesies, requiring more and more extreme security. They are also huge profit generators for corporations which supply the weapons of war and instruments of security.
Voting
It was brought up that most people think of voting as the cornerstone of democracy --- as long as they are able to go into a voting booth and freely select their leaders, democracy is working. It was pointed out, though, that voting doesn’t mean a lot if the people offered as candidates are not representing the real needs of the people, nor offering real solutions to the problems. *** How long can a democracy persist if the choice it offers is the lesser of evils? ***
***. We know that in the 2000 presidential election, and maybe the 2004 election, the votes were not counted accurately. ***What does it mean in a democracy when it becomes clear that an election was stolen and/or rigged and nothing is done about it? That the courts refuse to allow the vote to be counted?
And what does it mean when the rule of law is used as a means of suppressing low income and ethnic voters? There is a great effort currently in this country to require voter ID cards, the obtaining of which is a much greater burden on poor, ethnic, and older citizens than middle & upper class people. ***. And we see the legal system being used to advance this same end in a much more draconian way through the cradle to prison pipeline. ***
Education
*** Poorly educated people are easy prey to racism, to super-patriotism, to exceptionalism.***
***Paul Chappell says, “***A democracy is only as wise as its citizens, and a democracy of ignorant citizens can be as dangerous as a dictatorship.
Citizenship
*** When we relax into the idea that the foremost duty of a citizen is voting, the democracy is probably already lost. ***Helen Keller ***: “When one comes to think of it, there are no such things as divine, immutable, or inalienable rights. Rights are things we get when we are strong enough to make good our claim on them." *** good citizenship almost always takes courage.
As Jim Hightower says, “The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it’s conformity.” *** As Frederick Douglass said, “Find out what any people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong that imposed upon them.” Breaking that silence, throwing off that imposition, is not done by democratic institutions; it’s done by people with the courage to insist on the animating principles of the institutions.
***the United States does not have a democracy.
***"

============================================

Those who seek a radical change of government,
when there is no viable plan to better such government,
would do nothing to improve the lot of America's people
whose personal rights do not extend far beyond that of freedom of speech;
a right which most are unwilling or unable to exercise.

SHOCKLEY
 
OP
S

shock

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When posted the above post contained the following link: Home | Common Dreams. What happened to the link after I posted it is not known to me.
SHOCKLEY
 
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shock

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i NEED HELP IN LOCATING AND THEN POSTING LINKS. THE LINK I POSTED WAS---IN CAPS, ANDWHEN CONNECTED---
W W W . C O M M O N D R E A M S . ORG
 

Liability

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It's almost like the poor guy is trying to say something.
 

tjvh

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The only primer the OWS crowd needs is to turn that little dial at the base of deodorant containers, then it's primed and ready to go... No need to thank me for this public service announcement, the general public breathing fresh air is thanks enough.
 
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shock

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I intended to say---or, rather---ask:

"Let them eat cake?"

SHOCKLEY
 

eflatminor

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What are the essential attributes of a democracy?

It would appear that Mr Shetterly is under the impression we are a Democracy. We are not. We are a Constitutional Republic. Big difference.
 

eflatminor

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We are a corporatist republic.

So you'll be voting for those politicians that stand against cronyism and meddling in markets?

Excellent!
 

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