FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

An American Manifesto

American democracy is withering on the vine. Not because of any basic flaw, but because democracy is incompatible with the malignant capitalism that that has come to shape our society and control our political system. As citizens, we have a choice: we can do nothing and watch our democratic traditions die out, or we can act together to regain control of our country. We have a long and honorable revolutionary tradition, so we do not have to be victims. This manifesto is a call to action from one ordinary American to all others who love liberty. It is a call to unite and determine our future by taking it out of the hands of those who value only money and power. It is a call to rescue our democracy.

America today exhibits clear signs of a nation in peril, bogged down in needless, costly wars abroad and beset by economic stagnation at home. Terrorist attacks of 9/11 triggered an expanded military empire and an intrusive national security state. Financial institutions driving a casino capitalism crashed and burned in 2008. The worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression followed. Collectively, these events have distorted our political economy and wounded our democracy. Voters are angry, confused and divided not only over policies but over the very role of government. An imperial presidency, a dysfunctional Congress and a corporate-oriented Supreme Court have aggravated existing problems and created a cynical and distrustful public.

Plutocrats, taking advantage of a society in crisis, have tightened their hold on the economy and reshaped governance. The political economy, rooted in advanced capitalism, is now geared to serve the minority of Americans who control most of the wealth. Although our Republic retains the trappings of democracy, it has morphed into a Corporate State where ultimate authority is in the hands of a ruling class. Its operatives ? in and out of government ? determine domestic and foreign policy. They prop up an economic and military empire that spans the globe, but is reeling from recession, debt and seemingly permanent military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The wisest among the prior generation of leaders saw it coming. President Dwight Eisenhower, Senator William Fulbright and historian William Appleman Williams warned of military-industrial-congressional complexes, imperial presidents and debilitating empires. C. Wright Mills dissected the emerging power elite that was beginning to dominate the political economy at home and project its influence abroad. But for more than a generation, no one ? in or out of government ? has done anything to stop what is at heart an anti-democratic movement.

We know that the Corporate State’s concerted assault on ordinary Americans will only worsen if left to its own devices. Whether it prevails depends entirely on whether those of us who love and value democracy allow it. Fortunately, the American experience includes historic achievements that can be a source of strength to all those working to change direction and advance the public interest. There are, of course, no guarantees that attempts to stop the corporate juggernaut will succeed, but there is reason to be hopeful. We have overcome serious challenges in the past and emerged stronger for our efforts. We should remember that we are the children of Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Henry David Thoreau, and Martin Luther King and act accordingly.

A grassroots, non-violent peoples’ movement is our best means of achieving the kind of structural, long-overdue changes we need. The goal of such a movement should be nothing short of radically reshaping the federal government. We must curtail corporate abuses, establish a democratic congress, rein in the military, and curtail the imperial presidency. These are essential measures for breaking the corporate grip on the political economy and creating a democratic America. The ruling elite will make every effort, including authoritarian methods and draconian policies, to hold on to power. We will be labeled radical extremists and worse. Our strength will come from creating a counter force based on organization, discipline, persistence and nonviolence.

Seven specific fundamental changes could put the nation back on track and provide a new democratic impetus to the political economy:

1. Abolish the Electoral College and replace it with a one person?one vote direct democracy. American democracy has been hogtied by interests that hate and fear it. It is up to us to rescue and broaden it.

2. Abolish all constitutional and legal provisions granting corporations equal status with persons. Corporations are not people, and treating them as such distorts the legal process, corrupts the political system and perverts our society.

3. Within two years, reduce the number of nuclear weapons in stock by half and close half (roughly 370) of existing overseas military installations. Plan further reductions and closures over a five-year period. The US does not need ? and cannot afford ? an empire, military or otherwise.

4. Adopt a matching public-private method of campaign financing for all federal elected positions. Allow individual contributions of no more than $100 per registered voter until total donations equal the government allocation. States would be encouraged to devise a similar system for state elected officials.

5. Adopt a constitutional provision requiring majority approval in both Houses of Congress before sending the American military into battle. Require one year of military service or civilian community service for every able-bodied American before they reach age 25.

6. Revamp US foreign policy to comply with international law. Begin in the Middle East and Central Asia with the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. Provide financial and material assistance for rebuilding and aid to refugees. End support for Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and work toward a two-state, or preferably a one-state solution.

7. Demand a fair, progressive federal tax system that is simple and free of loopholes for corporations and the wealthy.

Now is the time to wake up and break out of our political straightjacket. We must not fall into the trap of waiting, hoping that a political savior will come on the scene. America does not need a Julius Caesar, unless we wish to continue retracing the path of the Roman Empire. Nor can we afford to await some triggering “spark” that may or may not materialize in our lifetimes. Democracy is in jeopardy and the time to make a concerted effort to resuscitate it is now. If we do nothing and continue to accommodate the drift toward corporate fascism, our fate is clear. Our children will not forgive us, and we, and they, will die strangers in a strange land.

Wayne A. Clark blogs at adslibs.com. An extended version of this article can be found there.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail