"Renaissance Thinking About the Issues of Our Day"
In 2008 - the nation wanted a revolution - and they elected Barack Obama - a man who promised to "fundamentally change the country" if he was elected.
And I'm not talking about a violent revolution - but a revolution in the sense that the old ruling elite - and the old economic powers that be - had pretty much worn out their welcome after crashing the economy - both of our country and the planet - and there was a broad consensus among the people in the United States that it was time for some new ideas - some major reforms.
It was time for the country to take a big step forward just as it had done in previous revolutions - be it the Civil Rights Movement - Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal - or the Progressive Era of Teddy Roosevelt.
The man who wrote the Declaration of Independence - sparking the first American Revolution - Thomas Jefferson wrote repeatedly about the need for generational revolutions.
No society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs to the living generation: they manage it... and consequently may govern as they please... Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of thirty-four years.
When he said naturally he was talking about as in a law of nature.
So after those 34 years - roughly the span of time that it takes for one group in power to get old and step down - a new generation comes to power - and governs as it sees fit - and then a revolution occurs.
But Jefferson also wrote about what happens if these sorts of revolutions - these periodic transformations - are stopped or blocked. He said:
If this avenue be shut to call of sufferance, it will make itself heard through that of force, and we shall go on, as other nations are doing, in the endless circle of oppression, rebellion, reformation; and oppression, rebellion, reformation, again; and so on forever.
Barack Obama's revolution never materialized - at least not in the first three years of his presidency - for a number of reasons.
Republicans creating a debt crisis - paralysis in the Senate with the abuse of the filibuster - Fox News's tireless efforts to sabotage the Obama agenda, these are just a few of the reasons why Jefferson's generational revolution never materialized.
And as Jefferson warned - if that avenue to revolution is shut off - then it will make itself heard through force.
We're seeing that today in the streets of Oakland.
A nation pregnant with revolution - as ours is today - doesn't just give up.
But the real question is...what KIND of revolution does the nation want?
What's the real change people are looking for?
Since President Obama took office - two revolutionary groups - or ideologies - have sprung up, just in the past 3 years - The Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movement.
And while on the surface - they may seem like they're about bringing about completely different things - completely different revolutions - a closer look reveals that there is a common thread.
I saw this chart on Democratic Underground today and it breaks it all down, pretty straightforward, pretty amazing actually. Actually, the commentaries are the most important. "This pisses off people who protest at Occupy Wall Street". It says corporations are too big and don;t care about average people, et cetera, and corporations are ripping us off.
OK. This upsets the people who support the Tea Party. Government is too big, they don't care about the average person and working people are suffering, the government is taxing too much.
But if you put it together, you end up with corporations to government officials, then the government officials do what the corporations want, then corporations give more money to government officials, and then the government officials do what the corporations want, and at the very end, people are left out totally.
This should upset both groups. And I would submit to you that this right here, which encompasses all of this, is really what today's revolution is about, whether it's the Occupy Wall Street revolution, whether it's the Tea Party revolution, or whether it's frankly the election of 2008 of President Obama, which I believe was a revolutionary moment.
It's that the people are saying on both sides, whether they're concerned about big government or whether they're concerned about big corporations, it's too big. They're in bed with each other. There's to much going on like this.
The idea that corporations are people and money is speech is contaminating America. The idea that government should be in our face, with the Patriot Act, for example, is not American, frankly. So what do we do? Where do we go from here?
It's all about ending Corporate Personhood. The idea that corporations are people and money is speech - THAT is the cornerstone of the next revolution in America.
The Supreme Court enshrined corporate personhood into law way back in the 1880s.
So according to Jefferson's 34 year-long expiration date on laws and the constitution - repealing corporate personhood is long overdue.
And it's at the top of the list of what Occupy Wall Street is trying to do - and whether Tea Partiers know it or not - it's the REAL reason why they were in the streets back in 2009.
If you kick the corporations out of government - then you end crony capitalism - and our elected representatives have to work for we the people again - as our Founders envisioned.
So how do we do it?
While it won't be easy ending corporate personhood - the good news is that the hard part is already out of the way.
People are organized - they're in the streets - they're pressuring Congress - on both sides.
Just ten years ago, when I wrote the first major book on Corporate Personhood - Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became People and How You Can Fight Back - no one even knew what corporate personhood meant - but now - it's in the forefront of the debate in America.
So with the people aware of the REAL problem - corporate personhood - it's time to undo all this damage the Supreme Court has done with the doctrine of corporate personhood, and the only real way to do that is to amend the Constitution.
The Amendment can and should be very simple, and just say that corporations are not people - and, thus, not entitled to Constitutional rights - and that money is not speech - and so corporations and rich people can't rule the nation any longer, but the power goes back to We The People.
Corporations are not people, my friend - and after the next revolution - that will be the law of the land.
That's The Big Picture.