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They worked many late night hours since this past spring creating a unique vehicle – part grassroots initiative and part cutting-edge technology – for countering the most corrupting force in American politics today: corporate dominance now controlling too many elected leaders on Capitol Hill.
Months before the Occupy Wall Street movement captured attention, inspiring millions across America while alarming this nation’s political/corporate class they began fashioning plans to find ways to run honest people for elected office.
A problem was how to get those honest, regular people to run for Congressional office without the need for those candidates taking money from lobbyists to afford the purchase of TV ads traditionally presumed required for effective campaigning.
Their solution: new open source software that affords candidates opportunities to get their messages to voters with full transparency circumventing the staged manipulation of traditional televised political debates in tandem with social media.
Recently they launched OccupyGovernment.org during an informational activity at ground zero of the Occupy Wall Street effort – the former Liberty Plaza Park now known as Zuccotti Park in New York City.
The immediate goal of the non-partisan OccupyGovernment.org is to elect a majority of new representatives in Congress next year thus flushing-out those members on both sides of the political isle beholding to the interests of corporations and private wealth including Tea Party aligned representatives.
Interestingly, that launch occurred not too far from the kitchen of the Greenwich Village townhouse where planning for this campaign began this past spring under the umbrella entity of the BeYourGovernment.org.
“Take the buck out of the ballot” was a call to action voiced at the activity by OccupyGovernment.org co-founder Liz Abzug, the director of the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute – the entity furthering the work of late Congresswoman, feminist and social activist Bella Abzug.
“The reason we are creating BeYourGovernment.org is that the corruption of our political system by large corporations, lobbyists and billionaires has grown so extreme that our nation’s democratic process has been transformed,” said Liz Abzug, daughter of Bella Abzug.
“As a result, the U.S. has experienced the largest redistribution of wealth upward in modern history, while our nation’s middle class is under assault like never before,” explained Abzug, who teaches Urban Studies at Bernard College in New York City.
A press statement issued by the non-partisan OccupyGovernment.org states:
“We, the people, can take back our corrupt government if millions stand up and use our social networks to replace the multi-million dollar TV ad campaigns, financed by corporate bribes, that members of Congress in both parties rely on to get elected and re-elected.”
Perverse policies emerging from the corrupted Congress include naked favoritism to corporations and billionaires resulting in their paying the lowest level of taxes ever while corporate profits soar at an all time high, the press released notes.
“Let’s Occupy our corrupt government now!” the OccupyGovernment.org release urges. “Not by shutting it down, but by opening it up to the 99% of us that it has been stolen from.”
OccupyGovernment.org asks citizens to only vote for candidates who pledge to represent the interests of people not corporations but vote for candidates who do not accept large corporate contributions.
Occupy.org does not align itself with any political party nor does it seek to become a political party, its founders stress.
David Levitt, a founding Board Member of the diverse OccupyGovernment, said that movements like Occupy Wall Street and OccupyGovernment are beginning to reverse the apathy people have in towards politics, producing consistently low levels of voter participation, by convincing citizens that change is possible.
“Railing in the streets against corporate politicians and then refusing to support an independent 2012 opponent would be a cop out,” said Levitt, an African-American and computer specialist who lives in California.
“With social media, YouTube, Facebook and BeYourGovernment.org, it’s our decision whether the 2012 races are money races or something better. If you haven’t found a candidate you respect in your district or state, it’s your duty to find one, draft one or become one.”
The movement to attain more representative government is not limited to the United States. Literally hours before the launch of OccupyGovernment, the London based Operation Black Vote unveiled it’s “Shadowing Scheme.”
This OVB initiative is an effort to increase ethnic/racial minority representation in England’s Parliament where diversity hovers around 4 percent which is about half of the non-white population level in that nation.
Twenty-five persons representing diverse groups work alongside MPs (Members of Parliament) in mentor-type relations for the next six months gaining insights on that body and assistance for future candidacy.
“The way four our communities to be afforded equality of opportunity is for our communities to be politically and economically empowered,” said Simon Woolley, Executive Director of OBV during the “Shadowing” launch program held in a meeting room inside the stately Parliament building.
OccupyGovernment.org is about “Being the Change” for setting aside “the ridiculously stacked deck of the most money wins elections,” said another co-founder, entrepreneur Jon Greenberg, an author and former journalist covering the financial industry.
“About two-thirds of Americans who understand that Occupy protesters are looking to address economic injustice and a government thoroughly corrupted by corporate campaign donations, are ready for a new government,” continued Greenberg.
“They’ve got the money but we have the numbers and the Internet!”
Linn Washington, Jr. is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening. He lives in Philadelphia.