(Article changed on September 2, 2013 at 16:22)
Progressive Strategies Tried
and Policies Recommended
Congress by Rasmus Knutsson
By Roger Copple
It seems that the Occupy Movement, like the former Peace Movement, has come and gone, but I hope both can be resurrected in some form. As I surf the Internet, I find hundreds of excellent progressive websites, many of which I have added to my Favorites List on my laptop. There must be thousands of excellent articles to read on a daily basis, but who has the time to read but only a small percentage of them, even on a full-time basis.
Many articles say similar things, but if the right words are put in a search window, one can find a cornucopia of political ideas. For example, in doing a google search on local self-determination with a global focus, I revisited the Institute for Local Self Reliance and Progressive Utilization Theory (PROUT), which I hadn't considered for a long time, but then I discovered a new one: EarthHolocracy.org, based in Australia. I visit conservative websites too such as HumanEvents.com in order to read what people such as George Will, Patrick Buchanan, and Charles Krauthammer have to say. And I turn on mainstream TV news for brief periods every day.
By visiting alternative-news websites, one can even find coalition-building groups that focus on social justice. But despite the numerous progressive websites and activities, it seems that the wealthy one percent is still entrenched in its improper influence on Congress, foreign policy, the mass media, and even the workplace.
In my political activism, I have always tried to take a solutions approach. For example, years ago, I emailed several third parties. I thought why can't all the third parties unite and have their own political primary? They could vote on a presidential candidate, who would make certain promises to all parties if elected (that sounds familiar), and then all the third-party members could agree to vote for that candidate in the later election. A third-party president, once in office, could emphasize the importance of getting the ballot access laws for third parties changed for all future elections. But no third party responded to my request for a primary.
In hindsight, I would say third parties should continue to be purists and not compromise their values. Years later, I decided to propose empowering the seven largest national political parties, using a system of proportional representation to elect the House of Representatives, while abolishing the U.S. Senate altogether. This may seem like a very difficult task to accomplish, but it is what needs to be done.
When third-party candidates Ron Paul, Cynthia McKinney, Chuck Baldwin, and Ralph Nader during the 2008 presidential race found four points of agreement regarding foreign policy, privacy, the national debt, and the Federal Reserve--I was delighted. But it seems that not much became of that either. The problem is that third parties still cannot overcome the two-party monopoly of the political process.
In a few of my previous articles, I mentioned how there have been over 700 state petitions over the years calling for an Article V Convention. At an Article V Convention, state legislatures could bypass the U.S. Congress altogether and have their own national convention to pass various proposed amendments. But the Article V Convention still hasn't happened yet.
For awhile, I thought that getting various progressive amendments passed, such as reversing the Citizens United ruling in 2010, could be an effective strategy, but even if that amendment passed, there are still many amendments that need to be passed simultaneously to create a socially just, democratic society.
We have the longest existing constitution that is the hardest to amend. So, I thought, what if the focus was on amending and revising Article V itself, so that in the future we could not only amend the constitution more easily, we could actually abolish it in a very democratic and orderly way. I even wrote my version of what the Third Constitution of the United States (I'm counting the Articles of Confederation as the first constitution) should look like. But both the political Right and the Left were shocked and apprehensive about it, judging by the online comments that my articles generated.
I still take pride that I was one of six delegates representing Indiana at a national Green gathering at Hampshire College, Massachusetts in 1987. At that 4-day conference many of us felt we were making history. A few years later, while living in Florida, I remember attending a state Green conference there. We were working on developing the state platform, and at one of the forums on Education, I advocated neighborhood control of neighborhood public schools. Though the Greens normally support grassroots democracy, decentralization, and respect for diversity--they seemed to make an exception when it came to the public schools.
A few participants in the group expressed that they did not want to encourage religious extremists and anti-evolution groups emerging at public expense. I argued that overall there would be a rich diversity of unique, more-cohesive communities with a sense of neighborhood togetherness, something that is lacking in today's society. Twenty years later, I retired from teaching in the public schools, and after working with the bureaucracy and hierarchy within the public schools, I can say I still support neighborhood control of neighborhood schools.