Over 400 of “ Democracy Spring ” protesters have been arrested on the steps of the US Capitol. Thousands of activists arrived in Washington DC, after a 10-day, 140-mile (225km) march from Philadelphia, to protest the role of money in politics. “People are fed up with the system, they are fed up with the corruption, and we want free and fair elections,” Cenk Uygur, host of the TV show Young Turks and one of the participants in the protest, told RT. “This is our core American right.” “The fight begins today. It doesn’t mean we win today. But in the end, we always win,” Uygur said. “Progressives have never lost. We won in civil rights, we won in women’s rights, we won in gay rights, and we’re going to win in getting our democracy back.”
With the goal “to claim the democracy we were promised”, various advocacy groups headed up by Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen and 99Rise.org, plan to hold a “mass sit-in” over the next eight days in the hope of persuading Congress to tackle“corruption of big money in politics and ensure free and fair elections”, according to campaign director Kai Newkirk.
“We hope that it will be the beginning of the end of the corruption of our democracy,” Newkirk told RT, stressing their main pledge is to make Congress pass “four bills that we’re pushing for,” referring to the Government by the People Act, Fair Elections Now Act, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 & Voter Empowerment Act of 2015, and the Democracy for All Amendment.
While the first day of the sit-in includes everyone, organizers have drawn up a schedule of events with each day focusing on a different theme and demographic, including elders, young folks, students, and activists from racial justice and labor solidarity movements.
The sit-in concludes April 16 with Climate Justice Day – followed by a “Democracy Awakening” through April 18, a series of events closely aligned with spring that will be “as integrated and complementary as possible”, says the campaign’s website.
Now is the time to take mass nonviolent action on a historic scale to save our democracy. Following a ten-day, 140-mile march from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to Washington DC, thousands are gathering this week in in the nation’s Capital to demand Congress take immediate action to end the corruption of big money in our politics and ensure free and fair elections in which every American has an equal voice.
This week we began the process of taking back our democracy, with hundreds arrested in our first mass sit-in at the Capitol on Monday April 11. Now day after day through Saturday April 16th we will continue to reclaim the Capitol in a show of hope and for the truly representative democracy we see in our hearts. Over 3,500 people, coming to DC from near and far, have pledged to risk arrest this week. Buy your bus ticket, jump in your car, get yourself to DC for what will be one of the largest civil disobedience actions in a generation.
WHAT IS DEMOCRACY SPRING?
WHY THIS? WHY NOW?
Every American deserves an equal voice in government. That is our birthright of freedom, won through generations of struggle. But today our democracy is in crisis.American elections are dominated by billionaires and big money interests who can spend unlimited sums of money on political campaigns to protect their special interests at the general expense. Meanwhile, as the super-rich dominate the “money primary” that decides who can run for office, almost half of the states in the union have passed new laws that disenfranchise everyday voters, especially people of color and the poor.
This corruption violates the core principle of American democracy —ldquo;one person, one vote” citizen equality. And it is blocking reform on virtually every critical issue facing our country: from addressing historic economic inequality, to tackling climate change and ending mass incarceration. We simply cannot solve the urgent crises that face our nation if we don’t save democracy first.
But if the status quo goes unchallenged, the 2016 election— already set to be the most billionaire-dominated, secret money-drenched, voter suppression-marred contest in modern American history —will likely yield a President and a Congress more bound to the masters of big money than ever before. And our planet and people just can’t afford that. But there is another possibility.
WHAT IF WE CAN INTERVENE IN A WAY THAT NOONE CAN IGNORE TO MAKE THIS ELECTION ATURNING POINT TOWARD REFORM?
The moment is ripe. Poll after poll shows transpartisan public frustration with the corrupt status quo reaching new, nearly unanimous highs. Voters in Maine and Seattle just passed bold new anti-corruption laws to enact citizen funded elections. A growing democracy movement has lifted this issue into the public debate. Yet Congress refuses to act.
The stage is set for a bold intervention to turn the tinder of passive public frustration into a fire that transforms the political climate in America, that sparks a popular movement that can’t be stopped. How? From Selma to Occupy Wall Street, the Tar Sands Action to Black Lives Matter, everyday people have proven the power of mass, escalating nonviolent action to rapidly shift the political weather and open the door to reforms previously considered impossible.
NOW IT’S OUR TURN.
This spring, in the heart of the primary season, as the national election begins to take center stage, Americans of all ages, faiths, political perspectives, and walks of life will bring the popular cry for change to Washington in a way that’s impossible to ignore: with nonviolent civil disobedience on a historic scale.
We will demand that Congress listen to the People and take immediate action to save our democracy. And we won’t leave until they do — or until they send thousands of us to jail, along with the unmistakable message that our country needs a new Congress, one that that will end the legalized corruption of our democracy and ensure that every American has an equal voice in government.
With hundreds of patriotic Americans being sent to jail, day after day for at least a week &mdash simply for sitting in to save our democracy— the drama in Washington will rock the business-as-usual cycle of this election and catapult this critical issue onto center stage. We will focus the nation’s attention as never before on the urgency of this crisis, the existence of solutions to it, and the strength of the popular demand to enact them. We will make this election a referendum on whether our democracy should belong to the People as a whole or to the billionaire class alone.
That’s a referendum we can win, setting the stage to achieve fundamental reformthat will give us — finally — the democracy for all we were promised.
WE KNOW THAT THIS IS NO ORDINARY ASK.;BUT THESE ARE NOT ORDINARY TIMES.
This is the hour to stand tall, to challenge each other to rise to this historic moment in which we did not choose to live, but which we now must choose to face. With love, with courageous hope, with the legacy of those who struggled for freedom before us in our minds — we must act with a determination matching the urgency of this crisis.