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Declare Your Independence! Americans Need Independent Media, Independent Movements and Independent Electoral Politics

By kevinzeese - Posted on 03 July 2010

If I had to pick one word for Americans who want real change, it would be independence.

Not only because the United States was founded on the idea of independence but because those of us who work to try and change the country for the better and have studied American history have learned this has always been the critical ingredient for real change.

First, we need independent media. Web based outlets like this one are a critical ingredient to the success of advocacy efforts. Like so many businesses in the United States, the media is controlled by concentrated group of corporations. A handful of companies own all the hundreds of television stations on your cable TV. The same is true of radio stations. More and more newspapers are part of syndicates. These conglomerates has resulted in homogenized that only reports a concentrated corporate perspective.

The media does not report on the incredible activism taking place all around the country. They don’t want America to have another Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Ralph Nader and so many others who in the past helped to move the United States in part because the media reported on their activities. Now we only hear about corporate CEO’s and elected officials elected due to corporate donations – otherwise it is sports stars and entertainment. The truth is there is more activism and organizing going on than even those of us working for change realize. If you attended the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit this month you could see it – at least 12,000 people attended, almost all were parts of organizations representing many more people, each working on a range of issues from housing and banking, to peace and criminal justice – people working to transform the American economy and political system. Did the media report on this conference? Does the media report on the movements these people are part of?

This leads me to the second area of independence we need – independent political movements. Throughout history it has been independent movements that made paradigm shifting change happen. Woodrow Wilson worked to prevent women from getting the right to vote. Leading suffragists were jailed and tortured during his presidency for protesting outside the White House. But in the end, woman got the right to vote while he was president. LBJ was a member of a political party dominated by southern segregationists. They opposed African American voting, ending Jim Crow, blacks and whites living together, going to school together, eating in the same restaurants – but LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act because an organized, independent civil rights movement demanded it. Richard Nixon, a war hawk did not want to end the Vietnam War admitting defeat of the U.S. military. He was forced to by a persistent and independent anti-war movement that criticized both political parties for their support of the war. The peace movement – and the people in Vietnam resisting U.S. aggression – forced Nixon to end the war.

The Obama era has shown many Americans that advocacy groups that work hand in glove with the Democratic Party sell out their base and claim false victories. A prime example is the health care bill. This “reform” protected the status quo – health care dominated by private insurance was the problem before reform and remains the problem. The bill will result in hundreds of billions of dollars going to the insurance industry every year in tax payer subsidies and Americans being forced to buy their flawed corporate products. The cost of health insurance was not controlled, tens of millions will be left without insurance ten years from now and every regulation of the insurance industry in the law contains a poison pill that protects the insurance industry. The coalition, Health Care for America Now, spent tens of millions of dollars, donated by donors allied with the Democratic Party, to support the Democratic leadership bill. It was a sell out of their constituents who needed real reform. Americans will not receive better health care, health care will devour more and more of the GDP, and deficit spending by government will continue because of a fraudulent “reform” that preserved market dominated health care. This is happening on issue after issue – corporations win, the people lose, and organizations supposedly working for the peoples necessities claim victory while selling Americans out.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Americans need to declare their independence from two parties dominated by concentrated corporate power. Both parties take tens of millions from big business interests every year, elected officials, their staff members and sometimes their spouses profit going to work for corporations they “regulate” in the revolving door between government and concentrated corporate interests, receiving big checks for serving on their boards and feeding off the trough of crony capitalism.

This is not a new problem for America. Big business interests have always dominated government and the two parties have consistently represented status quo business interests, but throughout our history we have seen the people transform the government by creating independent political movements that challenged the two parties.

When the most valuable industry in the United States was slavery, the two parties – the Democrats and the Whigs – conspired to ensure that abolition of slavery would not be considered in Congress. The Democrats, dominated by slave holding plantation owners, and the Whigs, dominated by Northern industrialists who profited from cheap cotton, did not want to see slavery end. More than a hundred years of abolition advocacy was unsuccessful in breaking the grip of two parties whose political power came from slavery. Some of those who opposed slavery decided to challenge the two status quo parties. They formed abolition parties and ran to end slavery. They were called spoilers – just as Ralph Nader is called a spoiler for challenging the corporate parties today – but they ran and ran. They never won. But gradually the Whig Party weakened. Finally, the abolitionists evolved into the Republican Party and the most successful third party president in history, Abraham Lincoln, was elected president and slavery finally ended.

Looking back at this history would you have voted for either one of the slave parties? Or, would you have voted to end slavery even though your candidate had no chance of winning?

Look at many of the major paradigm shifts in history – farmers fighting banks that were foreclosing on them, workers not allowed to unionize and forced to work long, unsafe hours, the creation of Social Security, health care for the poor, ending child labor – the list goes on and on. All of these major changes in American history were first brought into the electoral arena by independent electoral efforts.

The government is dysfunctional today. It is unable to deal with pressing problems facing the country. People are losing their homes, declaring bankruptcy, dying from lack of health care, suffering from endless wars – but elected officials are stuck in inaction or fake action that protects the status quo. Independent politics means recognizing we have two corporate dominated parties and that we need to have at least one party not dominated by concentrated corporate interests in order to make progress on the urgent necessities of the American people. Independent politics does not necessarily mean winning elections, at least not right away. It may mean that the greater evil gets elected – an evil that will fund war and dole out taxpayer dollars to corporate interests – much like the lesser evil will do. But the path to paradigm shifting change has always included people willing to fight in the electoral arena even if they lost the election. These parties lost the election, but won the argument and in the end won real reform.

It is becoming more and more evident to Americans that the issue of the day is concentrated corporate power. We are in the midst of a major paradigm shift that will end corporatism – the combination of government and concentrated corporations working for their interest and not ours. Will you continue to vote for one of the corporatist parties? Or, will you do as our ancestors did and create the paradigm shift we need by challenging the powers that be.

So, on Independence Day remember the roots of the United States declaring independence from the most power imperial power of the day, remember Americans throughout history challenging two parties that protected the status quo and look at the lessons of the last year when the lack of independence has only led to change that corporations can believe in.

This weekend – Declare Your Independence – and work for the real change we need.

Kevin Zeese is director of ProsperityAgenda.US and VotersForPeace.US.

There is a move to start a Progressive Party in Oregon. The new Progressive Party is being created by people whom I know, they are trying to change things by putting their money where their mouths are, you will hear about them soon ( Whatever it is you want to do, you must act now; time is running out. Never stop fighting, never give up, and when you make a mistake, don’t do that anymore and move on. I am coming to the end of my stay here, but my daughter, sons and my precious granddaughters will be here for years to come, help make it better for them and your loved ones. Do not belong to the church of “I don’t want to know Lord.”

Joe Walsh-Lone Vet
Individuals For Justice
Portland, Oregon

Well I do not know much about independence. I do know allot about dependance, codependence; or lets just call it what it is "devolution". A state where our neighbors and friends have sold us out in the name of fringe benefits. Which reminds me of an old western movie where the gun slinger says to the town "who did you betray to get the things that you have".

If you want change, you will have to steal it. We got here because people did not confront their problems, and let it wait until things got unavoidable. Simply saying we need to get new media, well, there is a reason why the media is in the state it is now and if you were given new media on a silver platter right now; then these same causitive factors will soon lead to the same result. Hence, the new media will be just like it is now given time for us to mess it up.

here is the definition of devolution, it is quite interesting. Then look at dependence, which has a kick of it's own. Then lets all look in the mirror at the same time. You should see what I see, it is time for a revolution, and not another independece. Peter Kroptokin had allot to say about this (read his quotes in wikiquote).

Devolution is the statutory granting of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to government at a subnational level, such as a regional, local, or state level. It differs from federalism in that the powers devolved may be temporary and ultimately reside in central government, thus the state remains, de jure, unitary. Legislation creating devolved parliaments or assemblies can be repealed by central government in the same way as any statute. Federal systems, or federacies, differ in that state or provincial government is guaranteed in the constitution. Australia, Canada and the United States have federal systems, and have constitutions (as do some of their constituent states or provinces). They also have Territories, with less power and authority than a state or province. The devolution can be mainly financial, e.g. giving areas a budget which was formerly administered by central government. However, the power to make legislation relevant to the area may also be granted.

(Adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776)

The Unanimous Declaration
of the Thirteen United States of America

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR TO ABOLISH IT, AND TO INSTITUTE NEW GOVERNMENT, LAYING ITS FOUNDATION ON SUCH PRINCIPLES AND ORGANIZING ITS POWERS IN SUCH FORM, AS TO THEM SHALL SEEM MOST LIKELY TO EFFECT THEIR SAFETY AND HAPPINESS. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. BUT WHEN A LONG TRAIN OF ABUSES AND USURPATIONS, PURSUING INVARIABLY THE SAME OBJECT [i.e., the single-minded pursuit of investment capital to the detriment and destruction of the greater mass of humanity] evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, IT IS THEIR RIGHT, IT IS THEIR DUTY, TO THROW OFF SUCH A GOVERNMENT, AND TO PROVIDE NEW GUARDS FOR THEIR FUTURE SECURITY . --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies [i.e., the working class of America and of the world]; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [i.e., the tyrannts of the investor class, i.e., the Trifecta of Evil--the Corporate/State/Media complex] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

"He": the Trifecta of Evil

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince [a minority ruling class: the investor/capitalist collective], whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, IS UNFIT TO BE THE RULER OF A FREE PEOPLE.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren [the investor class and its minions]. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies [i.e., the greater plurality of the working class of America] are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown [the Trifecta of Evil] , and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

"Our white brethren cannot understand us unless we speak to them in their own language; they recognize only force. They will never recognize our manhood until we knock them down a time or two; they will then hug us as men and brethren" [James McCune Smith, writing of the slaveholder in particular, and the white racist in general]

applies to the latter-day slaveholder, the corporate/finance investment class:

"The ruling, investor class cannot understand us--the working classes of America and the world--unless we speak to them in their own language; THEY RECOGNIZE ONLY FORCE. They will never recognize our manhood until we knock them down a time or two; they will then hug us as men and brethren."

This is all true. I just wonder how we can bring change about. In the past people learned what was going on from the News Paper, and through word of mouth. Today people don't read the news paper, and they don't talk to one another very much. Most people only know that is going on in their own family, at work, or what they see on television. Television does not give very much important news.
Since before 9/11 there have been many large and progressive organizations that have been working for change. The only people who are aware of these organizations are the people who belong to them, or the few people who read about them in progressive web sights.. Because of the propaganda given by the corporate media, people not only don't know what is happening in the country, they don't want to know. This is the first time in history that technology has had such a negative effect on peoples minds.

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