Heed Lincoln’s Warning: Restore American Democracy
Over 150 years ago, in his first State of the Union address, Republican President Abraham Lincoln warned of “the approach of returning despotism” which he described as “the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government.”
Lincoln then stated his clear belief in the supremacy of the people:
Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
Honest Abe next described the state of relations between labor and capital in the entire US (not just the rebellious South) ending with this summary of what was then the American reality:
The prudent, penniless beginner in the world labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just and generous and prosperous system which opens the way to all, gives hope to all, and consequent energy and progress and improvement of condition to all.
Then Lincoln wrapped it all up with this warning to hard-working Americans:
No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty; none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which if surrendered will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them till all of liberty shall be lost.
Clearly this surrender of political power is already largely in place.
What was then the American Reality is now a broken and hollow American Dream that is fading like a ghost of its former self.
In the last ten years we have seen the US government fight undeclared wars that cost trillions of dollars. These wars only benefit the oil companies and weapons manufacturers who make the largest profits in the history of the world while the people of the US or the Middle East suffer a horrible physical toll in death and permanent physical and mental injury. The so-called US defense budget is now larger than the military spending of the rest of the world combined.
In the last ten years we have seen the US government pass a prescription drug plan that costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. First and foremost, this plan primarily benefits the pharmaceutical companies by requiring people to pay inflated prices both as individuals and as a people through our government. The profits of capital go up while the cost to people goes up to the point where senior citizens must make a Hobson’s choice between food and medicine.
Within the last ten years we have seen the massive growth of a new Federal bureaucracy nominally dedicated to security but in reality intruding into the homes, communications and organizations of the people. People boarding a common carrier must submit to search without a hint of reasonable suspicion much less a warrant issued upon probable cause. They even search the diapers of infants and the disabled and fondle small children. None should dare call this liberty.
In the last few years we have seen the Federal Reserve bail out the large banks with trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) in cash and trillions more in loans while these same financial institutions have foreclosed on millions of homes, threatened to bankrupt state governments here and foreign governments abroad and grown even larger than “too-big-to-fail”. While these banksters have paid billions of dollars to their managers and owners these same financial institutions plan to pay no taxes for years to come. The managers of these banks and hedge funds are taxed at a lower effective tax rate than a working person who pays payroll tax and income tax and then sales tax on the rest of their income. By and large, these same banks now refuse to lend to small businesses – they effectively “close the door to advancement” on hard-working Americans.
More recently, we have seen the government mandate the purchase of health insurance, largely from for-profit corporations, without even the attempt to create a common public system that creates equality for all. A growing number of over 50,000,000 people have essentially no access to effective health care while as a country the US spends more per capita than any other country in the world. The US healthcare system is clearly the greatest in the world only in terms of cost and the number who are not cared for – this is clearly a disability and burden on the vast majority of Americans. Again and till the large and growing for-profit insurance and HMO companies grow rich by increasing the suffering of the people.
Now capital — the big money that drowns our politics and owns the mainstream media and owns or cows our politicians — big money requests that we tie the hands of government with a so-called Balanced Budget Amendment. Their amendment would prevent raising the miniscule taxes on hedge funds and the billionaires that run them; would prevent raising the laughable capital gains tax that is equivalent to just the payroll tax deductions that working people pay before they pay income tax; would avoid a tiny transaction tax of less than a cent a trade which could raise hundreds of billions in revenue each year; would continue tax credits for fossil fuel companies and for companies who move jobs overseas in search of increasing tax-free profits.
The Balanced Budget Amendment is a foul canard intended to permanently “close the door of advancement against [US} and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon [US] till all of liberty shall be lost.” Instead of locking down our government of, by and for the people We The People Move To Amend the US Constitution to Restore American Democracy by forcing money out of politics and reclaiming our inherent human rights from the soulless corporations who have taken this country to war after war, accumulated much of the world’s capital to themselves and have used our government like a sock puppet in order to place new disabilities and burdens upon all of US until now all of liberty is threatened.
In accordance with all of the principles of the Preamble to the US Constitution:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
We the People Move To Amend the Constitution to Assert:
1. Our Freedom and Independence: All of We The People are human beings with unalienable and equal rights and among these rights are Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness.
2. Our Inherent Human Rights: Our State and Federal Constitutions protect the rights of We The People – they neither create nor grant our inherent human rights.
3. Corporations Are Not People: Corporations and other commercial entities, money, property and other things are not people and therefore can not have human rights.
4. Money Is Not Speech: Expenditure of money, goods or property by commercial entities is part of commerce. In particular, any advertising paid for by business entities is commercial in nature and neither Constitutionally protected Free Speech nor Free Expression. Business speech is commercial advertising.
5. Our Right to Democratic Government: Congress has the power and duty to regulate campaigns, campaign expenditures and elections to protect the right of the people to vote, the right of equal participation and an open and accurate count of the vote in order to preserve and promote a democratic form of government of, by and for We The People.
6. The Supremacy of We the People: All government action shall give the greatest consideration to preserving and increasing equality, liberty and justice for all. Where federal, state and local governments, laws or regulations are in conflict, the greater consideration shall be given to maintaining or increasing equality, liberty and justice for all of We The People.
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Top of the Petition Form (short version):
1. All of We The People are human beings with inalienable human rights.
2. Our inherent rights are protected by the Constitution, not given or created by it.
3. Corporations are not people. Corporations are legal fictions created by people.
4. Money is not speech. Business speech is commercial advertising.
5A. We have a right to self-government: a right to vote and an honest count of the vote.
5B. Congress has the power to regulate campaigns and campaign spending.
6. We have a right to a government of, by and for all of the people: Federal, state and local government action shall maintain or increase the liberty, equality and justice for all.
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As the Declaration of Independence says: “Prudence indeed, will dictate, that Governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, 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, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
We have suffered long enough: it is time to alter our system of government back to a democratic government of, by and for the people.
As Lincoln concluded his first State of the Union Address referring to the Civil War applies equally well to the class war being waged by the rich and powerful today:
The struggle of to-day is not altogether for to-day; it is for a vast future also. With a reliance on Providence all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us.
It is time to Restore American Democracy.
What you can do:
Go to Move To Amend and get the Local Action Toolkit. Start a group with your friends or neighbors. Do some outreach with or within the Rebuild the Dream Movement. There are many ways to get involved. The petition above varies from the national Move To Amend petition. I am sure this draft can be improved, but I feel it is important to stay as clear, direct and positive as possible.
Personally I would love to see a giant brick of signed petitions delivered to my representatives in Washington in early October. Eventually our local ‘petition bricks’ will be enough seal up the doors of the unrepresentative Congress and send a loud and clear message of the deep displeasure of we the people with corporate rule and Congressional austeria. Without the need to throw or lay any baked clay bricks at all…
There are many people who are too busy surviving or just waiting for someone else to go first. Most of the people you meet will thank you for standing up for all of us and what it really means to be an American.
[cross-posted and edited from Thom Hartmann’s Community site.]