By Ralph Nader
Ever wonder why Presidential and Congressional election campaigns fail to meaningfully connect with civil society? Candidate rhetoric is designed to attract voters and campaign contributions. Candidates go out of their way to ingratiate themselves to their corporate paymasters, whose monetized minds want nothing to do with the civil society. Civil society leaders at the national and local levels and their nonprofit citizen groups form the bedrock of democracy. These civic leaders have significant expertise and experience and are meticulous and precise in their written and oral presentations. They do not traffic in false statements that are unfortunately routine for many candidates for federal office. And unlike most major party candidates who receive round-the-clock coverage for every campaign utterance, the civic stalwarts are too often left on the sidelines by the media during the campaign season.
For example, check out the Sunday morning network shows. It’s all about the horserace, the money raised, the tactics and the gaffes or outrageous slanders. Such “content” is the grist for the commercial media’s ratings and profits, especially in the 2016 presidential year. The head of CBS, Leslie Moonves said, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”
Well, the civil society is fighting back with four full days (May 23, 24, 25, 26, 2016) at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. with a civic mobilization designed to break through the power of the corporate/political complex.
Breaking through power means securing long-overdue democratic solutions made possible by a new muscular civic nexus connecting local communities and Washington, D.C.
On these four days, speakers will present innovative ideas and strategies designed to take existing civic groups to higher levels of effectiveness.
Day One — May 23, 2016 will feature an unprecedented series of presentations by seventeen successful citizen advocacy groups of long standing.
Day Two – May 24, 2016 brings together a large gathering of authors, documentary filmmakers, reporters, columnists, musicians, poets and editorial cartoonists who will demonstrate the need for wider audiences over the mass media.
Day Three – May 25, 2016 will be dedicated to enhancing the waging of peace over the waging of war. We will assemble leading scholars having military and national security backgrounds such as ret. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State, Colin Powell, veterans groups such as Veterans For Peace, and long-time peace advocacy associations to explain how peace is more powerful than war.
Day Four — May 26, 2016 will unveil a new Civic Agenda (much of which has Left/Right support) that could be advanced by engaged and enraged citizens in each Congressional district. The agenda includes recognized necessities ignored by Congress for decades and will be presented by a veritable brain trust of recognized advocates for the well-being of present and future generations.
The idea on this day is that each speaker presents the substance of each demand for later pickup by citizens back home serving their Senators and Representatives with formal summons to their own town meetings to educate these politicians and instruct their duties on their return to Congress.
Revitalizing the people to assert their sovereignty under our Constitution is critical to the kind of government, economy, environment and culture that will fulfill human potential and respect posterity.
The participating citizens will be asked to support the creation of several new organizations. One will be a Secretariat to facilitate action to stop illegal wars and their quagmires (e.g. the wars on Iraq and Libya and their brutal aftermaths) by retired military, national security and diplomatic officials who have great credibility for waging peace and also significant influence, if organized, for the media and the Congress.
These Americans did speak up in unprecedented numbers in 2002-2003 against the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq but had no infrastructure to increase their numbers and reach to the American people and the cowardly politicians in Congress.
It is also vital to return today’s circuses of elections marinated in commercial interest and cash back to deliberative events that invite the best of our people to run for elective office with its public trust.
If the foregoing whets your civic appetites, go to our website, breakingthroughpower.org to see how you can obtain tickets for these four days of events at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. or participate in other ways.
We can make it happen; you can make it historic!