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Commentary Last Updated: Feb 3rd, 2010 - 01:16:28

So now what?
By Arthur Lukas
Online Journal Guest Writer

Feb 3, 2010, 00:16

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Okay, we elected a Democratic Congress in 2006. We not only increased the Democratic majority in 2008, but we also elected a Democratic president. We threw those rascally Republicans out of office, and put in their place a president and party of our hopes and dreams. Happy days were here again!

In just one year our new president and Congress have brought this country back to a nation of freedom, justice, and prosperity. This change-we-can-count-on administration has appointed new, forward-looking people into our government. It has taken the money out of politics, curtailed our military expansion, ended government secrecy, and stopped spying on its citizens. And prosperity is just around the corner!

Whoops -- reality check

Our president of change and Congress of the people merrily passed trillions (1,000,000,000,000 is one trillion, or 1,000 billion) of dollars along to the financial bigwigs who were responsible for crashing our economy -- no strings attached. What did these benevolent folks do for us, the people? Jobs keep disappearing and families are still losing their homes. Wages for workers have, at best, stagnated, and in many cases declined. The banks have increased interest rates on credit along with increasing charges for the slightest infraction of their rules (which they keep changing -- read the tiny print on the slip of paper tucked into your monthly statement). As for health care insurance -- the Senate presented the American people with a 2,000 page �health care reform bill� which defies comprehension. But not to worry. This monstrous bill will be commingled with the equally enormous House bill prior to giving birth to the ultimate health care betrayal.

On the world scene, our democratically elected so-called representatives have taken us further into the depths of the military abyss known as �Full Spectrum Dominance.� Since stabilizing Iraq (ignore the daily bombings occurring there -- our media sure have), our very own Nobel Peace Prize winner has expanded the fighting in Afghanistan by sending more troops and drones into that country and its neighbor, Pakistan. Our president has also brought more bombs and death to tiny Yemen -- long before Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to set his drawers alight over Detroit. And now our leader of hope and change is sounding very Bushie with his belligerent posturing over Iran.

Let us pause in a moment of silence for the COP15 copout in Copenhagen when our forward-looking leader came in at the last minute to torpedo any chance of a binding agreement to reduce carbon pollution and its effects on global climate change.

So now what?

Now is the time to act! Let�s get on the phone or the computer and send a message to our representatives and senators. Let�s write angry letters to the editors of our local papers. Get in our cars, on buses and trains, or brave the sheep runs at the airports to get to the next demonstration in Washington D.C., New York, or San Francisco. Let�s show those scoundrels we�re mad as hell, and we aren�t going to take it anymore!

Of course, we have done that before. Not for just months or even years, but for decades we have been doing all the above, and more. We have raised our voices in protest over our government�s lack of concern for the American people, over the continual subservience of our government when called upon by its owners -- the one-tenth of the one percent of the population of this country -- the high rollers who, as George Carlin said, � . . . own us!� That�s right, the money elites not only own our governmen but, by default, own us -- you and me and the rest of the American people.

We write, and we phone, and we march, and our government ignores us. The American people don�t want a Wall Street bailout -- our government gives the Wall Street bankers all the money they want and asks nothing in return. The American people want a Medicare-for-all type medical plan -- our government tells us that it is �off the table.� The American people want an educational system that brings actual education to all those who want it -- our government says there�s no money for education (after spending trillions on banksters and endless wars).

The American people, despite all the entreaties we have made for lo these many years, are suffering at a level of social misery not seen since the Great Depression. Bankruptcies, foreclosures, homelessness, and hunger have become commonplace for millions of us.

Let�s have a real �change we can count on�

Jim Hightower has often said that there are the Fat Cats and the Alley Cats. The Fat Cats have the money, but the Alley Cats have the numbers. Unfortunately, our electoral system demands both money and votes to win. And in recent years we have seen that the votes follow the money. Ninety percent of the time the candidate who spends the most money wins the election. The Fat Cats� money trumps the Alley Cats� numbers. And if that doesn�t seem to be working, the Fat Cats just remove enough of the Alley Cats from the vote count to insure their victory.

If we, the American Alley Cats, cannot get our government to do the things we want, and we can�t get people elected who are willing to listen to us and act for us, we don�t have a democracy. Democracy simply means people power -- from the Greek demos (the people) and kratia (power). Note that it is people power, not person power. A single person, not of the Fat Cat variety, has no power. People of the Alley Cat species coming together and acting together have power, and if enough people get together in a united action they have unstoppable power.

The beginning of American democracy

There is legislation now pending in the House of Representatives (H.R. 1826) and the Senate (S. 752) called the Fair Elections Now Act. This act would provide for publicly funded elections for federal offices. The concept is simple -- a candidate can sign up a relatively small number of voters who will contribute a small amount of money to the candidate�s campaign fund. In return, the candidate can then draw on the Fair Elections Fund to run for office.

As an example, a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives would have to collect 1,500 contributions from people in their state and raise a total of $50,000 -- that�s an average of less than $34 per contribution. No single contribution could exceed $100.

Since states vary widely in population, the formula for the Senate candidates receiving public funding is more complicated, but it uses the same principle of gathering small donations from a specified number of people in the candidate�s state.

The cost of Fair Elections would be borne by a small fee on large government contractors. The largest recipients of federal government contracts would pay a small percentage of the contract into the Fair Elections Fund.

The above Fair Elections Now Act information was obtained from its Web site. Visit this Web site for a more complete summary of the Fair Elections Now Act.

Under the Fair Elections Now Act, federal candidates would run for office without relying on large contributions and big money bundlers, and would be freed from constant fundraising, allowing them to focus on what people in their communities want. Participating candidates will be seeking support from their communities, not the Fat Cats in Washington D.C.

Similar public funding legislation has been initiated in a few states on a limited basis with outstanding results. Voters have been overwhelmingly electing publicly financed candidates over privately financed candidates, bringing into government grassroots public office holders listening to their constituent Alley Cats rather than the few Fat Cats. It really works.

So here�s the deal

The Fat Cats own us through owning our government and our media. The great number of voting Alley Cats have been outgunned and outmaneuvered by the monied Fat Cats. It is time for us Alley Cats to stop running off in all directions -- each following their own pet project, no matter how important. If we can come together for one year, work for one very specific issue (the Fair Elections Now Act), we can be successful in getting our government back and making it work for all Americans.

All you have to do is let your own so-called representatives in Congress know that either they actively support and vote into law the Fair Elections Now Act by the end of August 2010, or you will do everything in your power to see they are not re-elected in November. That may be very difficult to do in some cases, but the threat must be real, and it must be carried out.

And really, what�s to lose? If your so-called representatives in the House and Senate are unwilling to get out from under the Fat Cats� monied control, how much good will they ever do? Nothing good will happen through our government until the money disappears from the political scene. We, the Alley Cats, have asked nicely, pleaded unendingly, demanded vociferously, written until we got writer�s cramp, marched until our feet were blistered, and got arrested so frequently we had cells reserved at our local jail. And still our government has turned its back on us.

John F. Kennedy said, �Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.� Threatening our so-called representatives isn�t the nicest way to operate, but it may well be the final peaceful action left to us. There are not many among us who want the inevitable violence that President Kennedy spoke of.

If we work together, in true solidarity, united in this one action for just one year; we can change the direction of this country, and maybe the world. Getting the money out of politics will give us the power to pursue all of our pet projects -- and win. Just think of the many good causes that will be achievable through a Congress filled with grassroots office holders listening to, and working for, all the Alley Cats of America.

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