Occupy the Democrats for People Power: A People Power Humanifesto

The Democratic Party used to be known as the party of the people and while it never fully was even at its height[1] and probably will never live up to that ideal, it can be led by the commoner, by the power of the people.  This is a lesson that is fleeting before our eyes in this latest presidential election, one that is turned on and off by the charisma and personality and short-fallings of one politician, but one that has revitalized important discussions and reignited an imagination long dormant in the political will of us the people on the block and the farm.

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In the 1980s, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher declared that there can be no alternative to capitalism as she made every effort to bolster the highest income class at the expense of the middle class and working poor who would become poorer. It seems that since that era the U.S. Democratic Party has accepted this claim as fact and has only disagreed with the means and the timetable of the Republican Party – embodying the worst of abject capitalism. The Democratic Party has become the de facto Neoliberal Party, a political apparatus intent on selling off all of the people’s possessions to the highest bidder – or really to any privatizing and well-connected company.

One of most popular examples of neoliberalism is the privatization of public schools. Private companies manage and run public schools without accountability to the very public that is funding them. These charter schools are supposed to be better run than the public schools they are increasingly replacing, but the data shows that they consistently underperform them while destroying unions, dismantling the professional class of teachers, and widening the racial and socio-economic gap in educational achievement. These charter schools are benefacted by guarantees and tax-incentives that double investments within seven years, where someone can put ten million dollars to help create a new school in a poor black neighborhood and then see that plus another ten million back in seven short years. The testing industry rakes in hundreds of millions while students and their communities are worse off for the wear – for learning how to fill bubbles while arts curriculum is steadily eroded.  we have problems with these supposed solutions leaving the poor children behind. Meanwhile, the teaching profession is under attack, and teachers of color are being cast out of their own schools and communities, further destabilizing their communities with fewer middle class professionals, leaving the wealth gap not only larger, but more and more white. In the end, we the people are paying the same amount, but with less to show for it, less invested in our students and less invested in the middle class. We need a Democratic Party that fights for full funding of public education, Pre-K through grad school, and through schools and other community-based institutions, seeks to stabilize poor communities and communities of color.

And this is just but one dimension in the fight for People Power. Other dimensions include but are not limited to[2]:

  • Universal access to health care – for everyone. No one should be refused basic medical, psychological, reproductive, or dental health because they simply do not have the money that others would consider change.
  • Drastic disinvestment from and full accountability of the police and military states that contain, trap and kill millions of people of color and poor people throughout the US and countries of color.
  • A substantial raise in lower wages, universal childcare, and a guaranteed basic income to keep children out of poverty no matter the hardships their parents endure. Nearly a quarter of children in the United States live in families at or below the federal poverty levels.[3]
  • Investment in roads, bridges, telecommunication systems, housing, and fully-accessible and available public transportation, which will permanently employ millions while improving transit of goods, services, and people.
  • Free borders. While trade is unregulated between the United States and many allies this has devastating effects on families in those countries, many of whom come to the States to both escape abject poverty and to participate in our economy.
  • Universal housing. No one should be denied access to safe, working housing in a land of plenty.
  • Meaningful reparations for victims of police, military, and economic violence.
  • Protection of the rights of the people to mobilize, organize and address concerns and obstacles on our terms. This is a First Amendment Right long eroded by anti-union forces in both parties.
  • Top-tier taxes to cap wealth hoarding and public seizing of assets of corporate and banking villainy. The people are bankrolling Wall St when it decides to steal from us rather than us controlling the institutions that have failed us.
  • Work, live, family, and play protections for sexual and gender minorities.

We recognize that there are several weaknesses here. A political organization cannot, for instance, end anti-black racism or rape culture, but it can make conditions better while helping to give tools and resources to struggling communities, families, women, etc. To do so, there must be a wide coalition, a big tent going across the age, gender, racial, ethnic, socio-economic, geographic divides and spectrums. There must be an alliance not of the perfect but of the good, an open to dialog and critique, a station of solidarity with the poor and oppressed into a mechanism that is poised to deliver the goods, so to speak.

We seek to occupy the Democratic Party with People Power.

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[1] Consider the internment of Japanese Americans and the restriction of social services to African Americans, let alone the Democratic Party-led Jim Crow policies through the South all during FDR’s reign

[2] Inspiration for this People Power Humanifesto comes from a variety of sources including the Platform for the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and The Center for Progressive Strategy and Research’s The Movement We Need: Think Strategically, Act Strategically handbook [available in print only atm].

[3] 23% [source]

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