July 4: What Might Jefferson Write Today?

July 4, 2017: Independence Now! from Corporate Domination and Governmental Despotism

 

 For many Americans, the 13-starred Flag of the American Revolution continues to  symbolize resistance to tyranny.. Below you will find a new “Declaration of Independence from Corporate Domination and Governmental Despotism.” We recommend it for study and as several of its paragraphs say, for action – during the days before, on, and after the Fourth of July.  

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men and women are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights: That among these are –

  • Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the sharing of Beloved Community throughout our planet;
  • A life-sustaining share of the Earth’s abundance;
  • Honorable jobs with living wages and income, based on livable hours of work;
  • A rhythm of work and rest that frees time for family, neighborhood, citizenly service, and the spirit;
  • Democratic elections and legislatures not controlled by wealth
  • Peace among all peoples;
  • And responsible relationships embodying, healing, and upholding the sacred web of life upon this planet.

We affirm that governments, corporations, and other institutions are founded solely to secure these rights and uphold these responsibilities, deriving their just powers from the consent of those they govern and whose lives they shape.

We now face a political system contrary to these values, destructive of democracy, and dangerous to the liberty and prosperity of a free people. :

The President and Congress of the United States, have both been chosen by minorities of our people, in elections dominated by huge inflows pf money from hyperwealthy individuals and corporations; by exclusion of many voters of color, youth, and poverty; by the gerrymandering of  many Congressional districts; and by the deliberate covert intrusion of a foreign power.

The result is a President and Congress that –

Seek to destroy health care for millions of Americans;

Are destroying and frightening millions of families by deporting hard-working and law-abiding immigrants;

Are carrying on endless wars and risking new ones without a Declaration by Congress, against international and American law as embodied in the  binding treaty of the United Nations Charter, and to the detriment of American society.

Are acting to destroy all efforts to prevent climate disaster and the scorching of our planet;

Are reinforcing racism in police behavior, in mass incarceration, and in the unequal application of unjust laws;

Are inciting hatred and acts of violence against the Black, Muslim, Indigenous, and immigrant communities;

Are ending protections for pure food, water, and air;

Are pursing the deregulation of banks and other financial institutions, privileging their power and resorting the conditions that led to the disastrous Great Recession of 2008-2009.

Beneath all these specific acts, and encouraging them all, is the power of large corporations - especially those in banking, the military-industrial complex, health care, and fossil fuels – to dominate many branches and aspects of the American government and deeply damage both American democracy and the American future.

We affirm that to redress these wrongs, it is incumbent upon the people to undertake nonviolent action through elections, lobbying, free speech and a free press, strikes, purchasing campaigns, sit-ins, teach-ins, rallies, and vigils;

And therefore we demand:

I.  A Constitutional amendment defining as a right of all human beings the existence of a climate and web of life and viable species that is life-giving, and requiring Congress to pass laws to guarantee that right.

II.  A Constitutional amendment defining as rights analogous to those in the Bill of Rights the right of actual full employment with a living income for all on the basis of a 32-hour work week, the right of workers to organize unions,  and the right to  universal health care.

III.  A Constitutional amendment requiring that all large corporations that do any business in the United States be periodically and publicly reviewed in seven-year intervals concerning renewal of their charters  to do business, by a jury of citizens chosen from the normal panel for civil lawsuits, to ensure and enforce that they are meeting the needs and balancing the interests of their stockholders, workers, customers, the  environment, and society as a whole.

IV. A Constitutional Amendment providing that all persons born in the United States or naturalized as citizens and all persons resident in the United States for seven years or more be registered to vote at birth, naturalization, or upon seven years of residence, and shall be qualified to vote in all elections upon reaching the age of 18 

V. A Constitutional amendment to pay for all election campaigns solely by public contributions by the US or the states, and contributions from natural persons, i.e. actual human beings, under limits set by Congress. 

VI.  A Constitutional amendment providing that the Constitutional right to bear arms can be regulated by the governments of municipalities and states, in whatever ways seem wisest to them, so long as the manifest intent and effect of the regulation is to protect, not endanger, the health and safety of the public.

VII. Strong laws to prevent global climate disaster, to swiftly move the US and world economies from fossil-fuel dependence to renewable energy, and to restore and  renew a healthy, life-giving climate system for our children and grandchildren as it was for the generations of our parents and grandparents,  with a far greater attention to infusing eco-social justice for all into that relationship.

VIII. An end to all US military action, overseas military bases, and the use of violence against any person by the military or any other US agency that have not been specifically authorized by Act of Congress or by the issuance of a public arrest warrant by a Federal District Court after public pleadings.

IX. Restoration of full Congressional control over declaration or initiation of any war, as well as adherence to the United Nations Charter.  Reduction and redirection of US military spending to meet the needs of defense, not corporate subsidies; and the redirection of funds now wasted beyond those needs to meeting the urgent civilian needs of the American people and of poverty-stricken regions of the world.

X. Laws encouraging the creation of worker and consumer coops – businesses democratically controlled by their members on the principle of one member, one vote – especially at the grass-roots and neighborhood levels.

XI. Abolition of all surveillance and collection of any data and metadata concerning any communication from or to any citizen or resident of the United States, without the issuance of a search warrant specifically naming and describing the person to be surveilled and the data to be collected — such warrants to be issued by a regular US District Court and made public no later than 90 days after issuance.

And to the achievement of these goals, with the help of Divine Providence and through our covenant with each other, we pledge our commitment, our nonviolent action, and our sacred honor.  

 

[This Draft Declaration was written by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Ph. D., D.H. L (honoris causa), founder (1983) and director of The Shalom Center <https://theshalomcenter.org>

 Creative .Commons Copyright 

Attribution-NonCommercial
CC BY-NC
]

 

Site Placement: 

Universal: 

Jewish and Interfaith Topics: 

2 Comments

Dear Arthur,

Dear Arthur, I read your magnificent document. Brilliant, as usual. Was there anywhere a statement regarding "equal pay" for WOMEN??

electoral college

Terrific! But I would add an amendment abolishing the outdated, antidemocratic electoral college.

Add new comment