Constitutional Amendment

PROPOSAL: There is a rapidly growing consensus among millions of Americans, both inside and outside of
the OWS movement, that true representative democracy cannot be achieved in our nation as long as the
minority of individuals and private entities with the greatest wealth exert a controlling influence over the
selection of candidates for public office; and that this has become the overwhelming and unacceptable state
of our election process today. Therefore, I believe that addressing this root problem should be OWS’
number one priority.
In my view, the most “bullet-proof” remedy would be a constitutional amendment that: 1) mandates the
exclusive use of public funds for national election campaigns, financed by federal income tax revenues; 2)
establishes a permanent and autonomous federal election authority to devise and administer a system for
the equal apportionment of campaign funds among qualifying candidates; and, 3) charges Congress with
the responsibility to impose restrictions on the content, quantity and/or duration of campaign advertising.
Measures currently being pursued to redefine “corporate personhood” would still be susceptible to
various tactics of legislative manipulation, court interpretation, and corporate circumvention. Unless we
overturn completely the Supreme Court’s definition of private money as protected political speech, by
funding elections with the fair and non-partisan distribution of public dollars through an independent
regulatory agency, meaningful policy reform in any arena of government will remain impossible. Therefore, I
urge the Assembly to consider developing such a proposed amendment itself, presenting it to the public,
and planning national action to support it.
I envision three steps to phasing in this strategy:
1) That OWS invite a “blue ribbon panel” of non-partisan experts on constitutional law to draft the
amendment (including, for example, retired Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the blistering
dissent to Citizens United).
2) That OWS, after voting to endorse the amendment, release it to the public along with a plainlanguage argument for its purpose and passage. The hope would be that – either as written, or in
some modified form acceptable to the panel and OWS – members of, or candidates for, the U.S.
Senate and House of Representatives would commit to sponsor and introduce the amendment.
3) If this occurs, that OWS roll out a coordinated, nationwide action to “Occupy the Constitution” in
support of the amendment (not of any particular candidate or candidates): specifically, that the
Assembly draft a general citizens’ petition declaring that the signers will vote only for a candidate
for federal office who is willing to pledge, formally and publicly, his/her support for the amendment;
and that this petition be circulated, and the signatures tabulated and verified, by local Occupy
groups, with the results presented to the public by OWS collectively.ARGUMENT: Just as OWS is a revolutionary movement, not a political party – and does not endorse
political candidates or parties – the U.S. Constitution does not recognize or endorse political parties. And
neither does this proposal. It is utterly non-political and non-partisan, and seeks to remove the influence of
private money from the election process as a whole. Its premise is simple: the system is broken, but the
Constitution is not – and that the Constitution contains an appropriate and effective remedy for precisely the
problem we are confronted by today.
Furthermore, this proposal is easy to understand, and asks nothing of the “99%-ers” on the sidelines
other than to recognize and embrace one basic truth, which serves every American equally: that our
government still belongs to us, the people, under the Constitution; and that it can be reclaimed at any time,
peacefully and lawfully, by reasserting our right to insist that our public servants work only for us, and not for
remuneration in any form from any source other than the tax dollars of the citizens who employ them.
Because of OWS’ transformative nature; its hard-won foothold in the public consciousness; and the
nationwide network of alternative communication and coordination it has forged, I believe that it is uniquely
positioned to use the force of direct democracy to regain control of the representative process that has
served this country well for nearly two centuries, but has now been corrupted and stolen by the wealthiest
and most powerful few among us.
It is time to “Occupy the Constitution” – where “we the people” were born, and still hold the ultimate
authority – and commit ourselves the causes of individual conscience and fundamental, lasting change in
the conduct of our government.
# # #

Revision History:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *