Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
Last night’s Iowa caucus was one for the ages. Mitt Romney edged out the surging Rick Santorum by only 8 votes. 8 freaking votes. That margin of victory is normally reserved for small town council races or student elections, not for Presidential nominating contests. The muddled results from last night don’t alter the fundamental element of this years nominating contest: It’s still Mitt Romney vs. everyone, and he will still prevail. His path to the nomination got a little bumpier though. Lets take a look at what last night’s results mean and where we go from here….
Photo by Jim Wilson, courtesy of the New York Times
If the New Hampshire primary goes as widely expected, Mitt Romney should emerge the winner among the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. For weeks, polls in the state have shown him with a commanding lead.
—Frank James, National Public Radio: What GOP Candidates Need From New Hampshire
This is election season. Iowa held the first presidential caucus recently; New Hampshire holds its today, January 10, 2012. As expected, the media covers the campaign extensively, I’d say obsessively. Yes, elections reveal national moods, but are they any more significant than the moods of sports fans, who roots for which team? One might compare enthusiasm for elections with enthusiasm for sports. Who wins becomes the main question—how they win, the process, statistics, ratings, polls, statements, interpretations, and predictions all endlessly fascinate a wide population. Is this another form “opiate of the people” that Karl Marx claimed religion to be?
Extreme coverage of election campaigns masks a broader question: what is the system the elections are embedded in? The birthday of Martin Luther King Jr will arrive soon, and in the context of King’s work and thinking we might ask, why so much media attention to the election campaigns, do they really warrant such minute scrutiny? Yes, the freedom movement King and others led often centered on voting rights, and yes, the right to vote is crucial, but now that those rights are more widespread (altho under constant attack), the questions of governance system, power structure, and actual sources of influence are critical. Rather than relentlessly examining campaigns, strategies, scandals, and voting results the media could investigate the larger system, the system of corporate dominance, congressional corruption, money in politics, and the iron grip militarism has on our country—MLK’s triplet of militarism, consumerism, and racism.
We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives, and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
King with President LB Johnson, signing the Voting Rights’ Act, 1965
In the Dexter Avenue King Baptist Church, Montgomery Alabama,
photo by Skip Schiel, 1998
I believe the Occupy Movement is struggling with the issue of systems, as are some of the Arab uprisings, especially Egypt. The dictator Mubarak is gone, yet the old military system survives and apparently controls the country. Egypt is undergoing its second phase of revolution where the controlling personalities are often identifiable, cloaked, but identifiable. In the United States those personalities are less apparent. During the reign of Bush the Junior, Bush, Chaney, Pearle, Wolfowitz, and the neo cons and others of the administration and congress consort with corporations, most notably the energy, financial, and military industries. Under Obama the personalities and links are less clear. However, to assay the influence and control trail, trace the money. Contrary to myth, the major money sources of Obama’s presidential campaign were not the little person like me but the big guys, financial, pharmaceutical, energy, and military. Looks like the same pattern will prevail in this year’s election.
Consider the Israel Lobby. If we were to peel back the layers of campaign activities to the money core, we would have a fairly clear explanation of why the US congress and administration unequivocally, slavishly, shamefully support Israel. Who wins a particular election matters less than how that campaign was financed and which lobbyists were heard.
President Obama at AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
I call on the media to shift a large share of its attention from the minutia of the campaigns to the panorama of the system: campaign financing, corporate power, lobbying, vested interests, and perhaps even turn an eye on itself: corporate-controlled media.
Recently Occupy Boston held a forum on campaign finance reform with special attention to the Citizens United decision which grants person status to corporations. The movement to produce a constitutional amendment to overturn this insane and noxious Supreme Court decision is underway. Yes, to popular resistance! How often does commercial media cover this topic, compared to its coverage of the campaigns themselves?
Occupy Portland calls for a day of non-violent direct action to reclaim our voices and challenge our society’s obsession with profit and greed by shutting down the corporations. We are rejecting a society that does not allow us control of our future. We will reclaim our ability to shape our world in a democratic, cooperative, just and sustainable direction.
We call on the Occupy Movement and everyone seeking freedom and justice to join us in this day of action.
There has been a theft by the 1% of our democratic ability to shape and form the society in which we live and our society is steered toward the destructive pursuit of consumption, profit and greed at the expense of all else.
We call on people to target corporations that are part of the American Legislative Exchange Council which is a prime example of the way corporations buy off legislators and craft legislation that serves the interests of corporations and not people. They used it to create the anti-labor legislation in Wisconsin and the racist bill SB 1070 in Arizona among so many others. They use ALEC to spread these corporate laws around the country.
In doing this we begin to recreate our democracy. In doing this we begin to create a society that is organized to meet human needs and sustain life.
On February 29th, we will reclaim our future from the 1%. We will shut down the corporations and recreate our democracy.Join us! Leap into action! Reclaim our future! Shut down the corporations!
*This action received unanimous consensus from the Portland General Assembly on Sunday January 1st, 2012.