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The Freedom to Participate in Power

Let Them In

by RALPH NADER

From New York City to Oakland, and several cities in between, the police, on orders from city officials, have smashed the Occupy encampments and evicted the protestors from public parks and spaces. More politicians from Congress to the state and local level want the Occupy people OUT!

Well, why don’t they start letting them into the places where decisions are being made against their legitimate interests? Let them IN to:

Having jobs and affordable housing;

Their legislatures without having to pay to play;

The courts when they are wrongfully injured or have other grievances without being blocked by corporatist dogmas and judges;

Access to civil lawyers pro bono when they are in dire need, as suggested by Cincinnati attorney Paul Tobias;

The dispensing and regulatory agencies with their petitions (without having to face grinding delays and costs);

Universal health care so they can escape the present avariciousness called “pay or die”;

Fair contracts, from student loans to mortgages, without fine print and gouging fees and robo-signing type shenanigans that trap them into contract peonage (see FairContracts.org)

Fair and clean elections with voluntary public financing and easier ballot access for third party candidates to give voters more choice beyond the two party dictatorship;

The media to express themselves on television, radio and in newspapers, so dominated by the plutocratic values of corporatism;

Public places to petition and circulate their materials in these large malls that are taxpayer subsidized but considered off limits because they are corporate owned;

The political process, with other citizens, with full rights to challenge in courts and by referenda the politicians and their corporate paymasters who unconstitutionally and illegally plunge our country into wars, invasions and occupations abroad;

A clean environment where they can breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat safe food by enforcing the existing laws with adequate budgets;

The facilities to band together as workers, consumers and taxpayers that exist for commercial companies and their investors;

There would be no need for encampments or street demonstrations if people were allowed IN to these arenas of power, communications and good livelihoods. You don’t see corporate executives and managers protesting in the streets. Because they are already IN!

It has been said repeatedly that the Occupy Wall Street movement has no specific agenda. Look at their signs and banners. It is obvious; they want IN. They no longer want to be excluded, disrespected, unemployed, defrauded, impoverished, betrayed and in big and small ways OUT.

They want justice, opportunity and, as the ancient Roman lawyer Marcus Cicero advocated for, the freedom to participate in power.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!