Popular expressions of citizen dissatisfaction with the government of the United States began with the Tea Party and soon after, the Occupy Movement. The Tea Party was co-opted by the Republican party and has become the Far Right of the Republicans. Occupy raised the country's awareness of the inequity of income distribution, the unequal enforcement of laws, and the need for change in the functioning of our institutions.
Since then Occupy has become hopelessly fragmented with some groups sponsoring National General Assemblies/New Continental Congress; some in favor of an Article V General Convention to amend the Constitution and resolve all problems; some in favor of tearing down the existing institutions and creating a "new and better" financial system, democratic government on a local level, with all basic necessities guaranteed for all; and some call for working within the existing institutions to make the needed changes.
One thing is certain, we will not suceed in making changes if we are all working at cross purposes. We must also understand the dynamics of the electorate and politics at this time and allow this understanding to assist us in crafting a strategy to take best advantage of the situation.
The first step will be to decide the best course: NGA/Cont.Cong; Art. V convention; Revolution to overthrow institutions; or working through the existing institutions. It is my opinion that the last option is the best method to achieve short term goals that will pave the way for more comprehensive changes.
The premise behind the NGA/Continental Congress is based on a historical model of the 13 colonies revolt from Britain. The goal of the new Congress would be to draft a petition for redress of grievances and present it to the institutions of government. If the government doesn't respond my understanding of the plan is to run candidates in the next election. If the Congress chooses to stay true to the historical model, they will then draft a New Declaration of Independence, thereby committing treason against the US and beginning their Revolution/Civil War.
I don't believe that option is being seriously considered by Convention proponents but it is one possible alternative if the government doesn't respond favorably.
The primary flaw in this plan is that it involves too much waiting. First we wait until July 4th to draft a petition, then we present a petition to the Government during an election year when we are less likely to get a response. When we don't receive a response we will wait two more years for the mid-term elections to run alternate candidates with no guarantee of winning an election.
Another flaw in this plan is that there appear to be problems in seating a truly representative Congress. If the new Congress fails to seat two representatives from every Congressional District and one from territories it will be hard pressed to claim legitimacy to speak for all the people of the country. The size of the turnout of the election will also affect Congress's appearance of legitimate representation.
An Article V convention could be the solution for the needed changes. Under Article V of the Constitution two thirds of Congress may vote for an amendment or call for a convention, and then three quarters of the States must ratify it. Another option would be for two thirds of the State legislatures to call for a convention or for three quarters of the States to hold constitutional conventions and pass the same amendment. The Friends of Article V Convention site contend that enough states have called for Convention, and they have posted a list of State Calls for Amendments. If they are correct a convention must be called. In order to begin this procedure, the Archivist of the Library of Congress must certify the call for the convention; see,www.archives.gov/federal-register/constitution/ for a good summary of the process. Since the Archivist has not made that certification the convention is in limbo. The best way to resolve this impasse would be for the Friends to File a suit in Federal Court asking for a writ of mandamus, i.e., an order for the Archivist to perform his statutory duty and certify the convention. Until that happens, an Art. V convention is a dead issue unless the States call for the convention or Congress takes action.
This brings us to working through the system. At this time, an amendment to end corporate personhood (Deutch/Sanders bill) is stuck in committee in both the House and Senate. If this bill passes, the Amendment will be sent to the States and if three fourths of them ratify the amendment, it is adopted and becomes part of the Constitution. Ratification by the States is a long process and can take years, but it will achieve one of our goals.
Many of changes we seek have support among the mainstream who don't openly support Occupy but view the movement with suspicion. If we begin well publicized campaigns to lobby Congress, we will be able to draw support from a wider base. Public expressions of our will have influenced Congress and the President within the past few months. Most of our efforts have been on the Internet through petitions and letters to Congress and they have worked. Now is the time to continue using petitions and letters, but rather than demonstrating in parks and other public places, we should demonstrate and present our petitions and letters directly to our Congressmen in Washington, D.C. and in their local offices in their home states. All of our Representatives have offices in their home districts (some have more than one). If we all show up at their offices with our written grievances, we become harder to ignore. Politicians respond to their constituents if they want to stay in office. If enough constituents agree on an issue, a politician who ignores his constituents may receive campaign money from the 1%, but he will lose his election.
Congress remains in session and there are many important bills pending on many of the key issues. Shall we wait till November to act, or begin to act now and tell Congress what to do.
Voter turnout statistics show that we have all created the current situation by ignoring our voting rights and failing to monitor what our government is doing.
We must all think about our options and make choices. We can divide our efforts and doom ourselves to failure, or unite on a strategy and complete the work begun by Occupy Wall Street.
I'm happy to see folks who want to work together and start trying to unify our efforts. I think the national assemblies might be a good way to help us start comparing notes and agreeing to start working in the same directions. I think occupy needs to become the worlds largest think tank. Logistically this requires getting a lot of autonomous groups to come together for a single vision. We would need to debate out the details. If it would take years to get an amendment ratified then in the mean time we could work on a strategy to support candidates that want to work through GA's during their term as quick way to curb that influence. Additionally, we could do research to see what the timeline would be for ratification in the various states and begin a national campaign to apply pressure at the right times. I really think we need a central place to discuss planning in addition to the interoccupy calls.
Waiting is not an effective strategy for now. While we are debating and building an Assembly, we must utilize our strength to continually push Congress to consider and vote on needed changes. The key issues are clear to most of us and we must begin working on them now, rather than waiting.
I believe that the answer is for us to become Congress. The only real and lasting change will be solidified in our political process. We need strong individuals from the movement to occupy Congress by being elected to office. Any other approach will alienate the "unspoken majority" of US citizens, whose opinions matter if we're looking to create any sustainable and/or lasting change in the way this world works.
An Article V Amendments Convention IS working within the system; albeit, much to the consternation of those protecting the status quo. The folks over at: articlevconvention.org/showthread.php are working on a PLAN -- See Thread: Group Article V - Execution Plan - A Build/Group effort by ArticleV.org (You may have to register).