Extensive Article on Inciting Violence/Our Violent Culture Just Published in Tikkun On-Line

Dear Friends,
I had submitted a piece on systemic violence to Tikkun just prior to the children’s massacre. It came out Monday with an introduction embracing the Newtown horror. I appreciate your read, comments and dissemination. It is best read by clicking the link: http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/this-crescendoing-celebration-of-violence-inciting-violence-and-violent-minds-by-investing-in-violence-and-violent-minds-does-peace-stand-a-chance-thoughts-and-analysis-in-the-wake-of-the-election

A series on violence will begin on the Huff Po in the next day or two.
In this time of great grief and soul searching, it is imperative to both take action and hug and love our brothers and sisters.
In unity,
Phil

Just Published on the Huffington Post: Amend! Money Out of Politics

the link:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/phil-wolfson-md/amend-money-out-of-politi_b_2288989.html

Phil Wolfson, MD

Psychiatrist and author

Amend! Money Out of Politics — Strategy and Tactics for the Constitutional Amendment Process — the 28th Amendment

Let’s have some post-election fun using our informed imagination. It is four years from now. I and you are entering the voting booths in our respective neighborhoods. We are feeling excited about casting our ballots with our neighbors at our local precincts. We are confident that the physical areas in which we live are part of larger geopolitical entities that have not been rigged to procure advantages for a particular political party, but, in fact, are legitimately circumscribed, unbiased areas containing fellow citizens. In this election, we are voting for candidates we truly want in office, whom we are certain will represent our needs, if elected. We are voting positively, not to avoid the rule of villainy — something new for me, perhaps for you. It is Monday of a three-day weekend — Election Day is a national holiday set aside for thoughtful voting and voluntary community service — not Tuesday — and most of us are off work. Getting to the polls is not full of pressure to somehow fit it into our workday.

The campaign has been an action-packed circumscribed four weeks in duration. There has been no privately paid-for media campaigning by candidates. Media makes its time available as a necessary public service. Now, public service political statements have been screened for truthfulness and libel. Candidates have spoken to the issues facing our country and the globe and addressed their qualifications to lead. To not do so is to lose the votes of an informed public who demands that their representatives be real people — honest about their lives and pasts, held accountable for their statements and opinions, and qualified to administer their offices. Their terms of office are limited to 12 years. There are no career-forever politicians anymore. Tax returns and investments are all in the public record. You cannot run for office at any level without full disclosure. There is only publicaly funded campaigning. Private contributions are limited to $50-100 per citizen and listed openly. Candidates are limited to $10,000 of their own money put towards their own campaigns. A tax of $10 per taxpayer has raised a $2 billion dollar fund for all federal races. When elected, politicians have the same benefits and health care options as the rest of the populace. Their work is rewarded by a decent salary and the honor of serving.

The process of becoming a candidate is open to all. Since term limits open the door to the aspirations of many, fluidity and opportunity exist. Political machines have been obliterated. Public funds sponsor citizens’ training programs to develop principled, skillful, ethical leaders with clear responsibilities to their entire constituencies regardless of their particular origins and loyalties. As lobbying money has been forbidden to either influence elected officials or to finance campaigns, elections and elected officials are far more representative. Persuasion has replaced the buying of politicians. ‘Make a good case, you cannot buy a case’. Money is definitively out of politics.

With this system in place, the possibility of addressing the issues of our time emerges. A real discussion on national health care, climate change, economics, unemployment, culture, war and the military, our precious rights, public safety, limiting corporate influence and the destructiveness of finance capital, a just taxation system — all of these and more will be addressed. They can no longer be put aside by the ‘we want more’ rich 1 percent and the mega-corporations. Billionaires don’t run our country. We do!

This scenario is necessarily incomplete and the details are not meant to be specific, but rather suggestive. Nonetheless, experiencing this as possible and desirable is invigorating. I want it this way. Don’t you?

Instead we have this just concluded national election serving as an unprecedented demonstration of the ruthlessness, corruption, mendacity, and disempowerment of we, the citizenry, that the billions spent on unauthentic political campaigns engenders. The unbridled financial input from the very rich in the post-Citizens United period went towards distortion and misrepresentation, towards influencing races for selfish means for the few in an effort to further solidify control of the political process by the 1 percent. Billions of dollars were wasted on deceptive advertising in a dire economy that has hit education, culture, public safety, the poor and middle classes harder than in any period since the Great Depression. Are we to continue to have our political lives dominated by influential money that has eroded our representative democracy? Will we return democracy to our Founders’ view and separate corporations and the undue influence of the rich from our political process? One person, one vote! Will we continue to tolerate the extraordinary influence through money lobbying (indirect bribery) of our politicians for the special interests of corporations and the 1 percent? Money Out of Politics! is the only means to return to the democratic process. Essentially bribed politicians will not vote for the needs and interests of the many. That is clear!

With the Supreme Court majority committed to empowering large corporations and the rich –significant adverse new decisions have occurred and will occur since Citizens United — more and more of us are recognizing the need for a constitutional amendment that encompasses overturning Citizens United (and includes term limits for the Supreme Court as well) but goes far beyond to get money entirely out of politics save for public financing. The first step is to unite and grow behind a movement whose slogan is “Amend! Money Out of Politics.” At this early stage, education, creativity and community building is more important than determining the final form of a constitutional amendment. Let us welcome all who unite behind our urgent need. Let there be a flowering of debate between those who support the limited amendment proposal with its focus on the Citizens United decision versus those who are behind the much larger and definitive goal of “Money Out of Politics.”

There is and will be controversy about how to effect an amendment, some arguing that under great pressure from the people Congress will vote themselves out of money by enacting an amendment to the constitution — 100 members are said to have endorsed some form of a 28th amendment — and others stressing that you cannot trust the bandits to let go of their handles and do the right thing — it will have to go to the people. There has never been a successful amendment coming out of a states convention process. The Equal Rights Amendment came close and its process facilitated a movement that inspired the further emancipation of women in this country. Building a movement is a good thing and engenders consciousness and change no matter the outcome! However, the lack of success of the states convention method does not mean that it cannot happen or that in the end this will be the only possibility for the success of our movement.

As our movement grows, it will coalesce around support for politicians who are for a 28th amendment, or on the other side, a massive No! vote for politicians who fail to come out for Amend! Our democratic power will hinge on our ability to make ourselves felt as a collective vector for this seminal cultural transformation through our presence as an anti-corruption moral and political force. Since we are neither a political party nor a single organization, but rather a community of people and organizations under the Amend! umbrella, political divisions and factions may be minimized. Our time is here. There is one objective: Money Out of Politics!. Return representative democracy to the people of our country!

Please do comment and leave the address(s) of your Amend! organizations if applicable.

A very partial list of organizations with an amend focus: Tikkun and Michael Lerner; FixOurAmerica; Change.org; Common Cause; Move to Amend; profoundemocracy; Wolf Pac; Root Strikers and Lawrence Lessig; Senator Bernie Sanders; Stamp Stampede; and more…

“The 28th Amendment To The U.S. Constitution: The Omnibus Anti-Corruption Amendment The Four Notable Truths”

Phil Wolfson MD is a writer and a practicing psychiatrist/psychotherapist in the Bay Area. He is the founder of Profound Democracy.

Follow Phil Wolfson, MD on Twitter: www.twitter.com/philwolfsonmd

The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution–The Tikkun Article–The full Story–Please Send it Out –We are Beginning a Movement

Dear Friends,
This week has been auspicious for our rapidly growing movement to get ‘money out of politics’ through a constitutional amendment process. Yesterday, MoveOn came out with a petition calling for a constitutional convention aimed at the Citizens United Supreme Court political decision favoring the axis of wealth–corporatism-and-politicans–do sign the petition. While the candidates for both parties have been selected, the conventions are looming at the end of the summer and we have sufficient time to raise the demand that both candidates support ‘money out of politics’, or face ‘No’ votes. We are in good position to mobilize a movement of the people for this primary reform on which all other progressive reforms are contingent. This demand can be applied to all of the Fall’s races for Congress. Our Tuesday’s Huff Po piece has attracted interest and continues to need support and dissemination. Please add comments. They bolster credibility for future Huff Po blogs. Here is the link:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/phil-wolfson-md/the-28th-amendment-to-the_b_1515741.html
Attached and printed below is the longer mother piece on amending the constitution including a draft of a proposed amendment. Please read, disseminate, send comments to Tikkun magazine–my great gratitude for its support and publication–do subscribe–and let folks know about our www.profoundemocracy.org blogsite where we post the latest on the amendment process.
Hugs and thanks!
Phil Wolfson

for the actual look, see  http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/the-prerequisite-for-real-change-amending-the-constitution-and-getting-money-out-of-politics

The Prerequisite for Real Change: Amending the Constitution and Getting Money Out of Politics
by Phil Wolfson
May 15, 2012

A replica of the U.S. constitution. / Wikimedia Images
Prelude

It has been clear for decades that there is an ongoing erosion of the ability and power of our citizenry to govern itself. I am an old and proud sixties warrior and have a vista that begins with McCarthyism in the 1950s and remember well its grey and oppressive political and cultural oppression. For a time there was relief and new life and an increase in the quality of the welfare state. However, since the 70s, a reactionary and selfish oligarchy composed of corporate and individual wealth and their paid bureaucratic servants has tightened its grip on our country’s governance. The means to this has been increasingly vast sums of money funneled into the electoral process and their accelerating and pervasive lobbyists’ influence on elected officials. The Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court opened the floodgates wide, but the truth is that the electoral and governance processes long have been reducing themselves to the rule of money, influence, and privilege by the few over the many.

Eisenhower warned of the dominance of the military-industrial machine, but did not have the vision to see yet the predations of rampant finance capital and the erosion of Roosevelt’s welfare state safeguards by both Republican and Democratic presidents—e.g., Reaganomics and later Bill Clinton and his repeal of the historic Glass-Steagall controls on the financial sector. The Obama ‘disappointment’ was based on his being Black and his pre-election populist rhetoric inducing a shared delusion about his progressivism. On the one hand, Obama’s election was proof that an individual can rise from obscurity to the presidency; with the other hand’s proviso, so long as he—we do hope for a she—is completely loyal to the moneyed and corporate influences that hold sway over our country. Obama has come through for them seamlessly, appointing Wall Street (Goldman Sachs, etc.) hacks to control our money at the very beginning of his regime, pursuing war and drone military strategies, supporting blood thirsty totalitarian regimes like Saudi Arabia, and shoring up big pharma and health insurance companies with his far-too-touted health care bill when he promised pre-election to push for single payer health care—Medicare for All.

Rich personalities dominate our political life, as if the public welfare is irrelevant. Law is made based on special interests introducing their favored agendas having given favors to their designated favored politicians. Or, on the calculations of politicians as to who will give the most money to their extraordinarily expensive election and re-election campaigns. And as our two parties seem more and more alike, the wiggle room for presidents to make truly different choices is a near null hypothesis. Money rules throughout the political process, almost without exception. To be forthright, we live in a large bunch-of-bananas anti-republic. The republic based on the people’s interests having sway through an unpolluted representative democracy is gone. Money and government are near one. The interests of the earth and our people—the 99 percent—are unrepresented. And the size of the collusion and the mega interests involved is overwhelming and makes change for the good truly difficult to conceive as possible.

Check this out and see if the numbers themselves (from Open Secrets and The Republic Lost by Lawrence Lessig) startle you into a deeper consciousness:

From 1999 to 2011, Wall Street spent $4.8 billion dollars on lobbying—that was what was reported. PACS and individuals in this sector (by report) made over 1 billion dollars in campaign contributions. Other sources peg the amounts much higher—and there has been a crescendo since 2008.
In 2011 (a non-election year), the total amount spent by 12,633 registered lobbyists in the federal sector was $3.3 billion dollars. Super PACs reported raising $153 million dollars through March 27thof 2012—first quarter quarterly reports are not yet in. These figures do not include PACs, dominated by the US Chamber of Commerce and major international corporations; Leadership PACs created by Congressional members themselves to self-fund; personal contributions; and the gigantic wealth of members of Congress themselves—about 50 percent are millionaires, and the top 10 in wealth are worth over $3 billion dollars. (Conflicts of interest anyone?)
In 1974, the total amount spent by all candidates running for Congress was $77 million dollars. In 1982, $343 million dollars. In 2010, $1.8 billion dollars. In 2010, additionally, the total amount contributed to political parties amounted to $2.8 billion dollars.
Obama was at $197 million collected for his campaign as of the end of March. Romney, starting late, had accumulated $87 million. Schools and education instead, anyone? How many schools for how many students? Values?
By various estimates, political office holders spent 30-70 percent of their working hours raising funds for re-election. They are not talking to Mr. and Mrs. Joe Average American. Rather, the conversations are with rich donors, lobbyists, PACs, corporations, and special interests—not you. With the Citizens United decision, the unregulated stampede of campaign cash from corporate sources promotes an even greater divide between elected officials and the populace.
And the awards for becoming a Congressperson or Senator by any measurement are not restricted to terms of office. Far more lucrative are the transitions to careers as ‘lobbyists’ with as many as 50 percent of senators and 42 percent of representatives moving over to the side they regulated (perhaps) and benefited.
Where does all this cash come from? Not from the general voting public directly. But indirectly as money taken from the inflated charges and unfair taxes put on us for goods and services. And then from the baloney corporate pre-tax expense accounts and from the special tax dispensations that are provided by the triadic axis of systemic corruption: the politicians—the rich—international corporate power. One calculation is that for every dollar a lobbying firm spends for targeted tax benefits, the return on that investment in special goodies is $6-20 bucks. A great investment indeed!

At the federal level these Congressional gifts include: earmarks, special allowances, innumerable tax loopholes, regressive taxation, failure to tax corporations appropriately and to collect taxes. It comes out of our hides one way or another. We pay, or they—Congress and the president—further indebt us by bailing out the banks and Wall Street who have already pillaged us and continually attack the bits of remaining social welfare—education, Social Security, Medicare, children’s health, Planned Parenthood, contraception, won’t tax the rich, etc., etc. Precious few of our elected officials are defending the welfare state, still fewer advocating for its expansion—and yet the welfare state’s depth of support for its people is the benchmark for fairness, social justice, equality, access, care, friendliness, opportunity, prosperity, longevity, healthiness, quality of life.

This collusion to make the rich richer and the corporate less regulated is working splendidly. A 2011 study found that the top earning 1 percent of households gained about 275 percent and from 1992 to 2007 the top 400 earners in the U.S. saw their income increase 392 percent and their average tax rate reduced by 37 percent. The share of total income in America going to the lower earning 80 percent of American households dropped to less than half in 2007.

Against this onslaught is arrayed an increasingly apathetic, media-ed and unresponsive populace caught in its own internal struggles, as successfully arranged by those whose disenfranchisement and control over labor it serves. And a frustrated growing number of confused humans who see the dangers of unbridled wealth, vast unemployment, the imminence of earth-as-we-know-its collapse, and the unfairness, unkindness, and mindlessness of it all. Confused for sure because it is nearly impossible to leave the grid, not buy goods from China, not use petroleum, not get caught up in manufactured desire, not suffer in the delusions and avarice created by the atomizing buy-it culture, not knowing who to trust and who to believe, and having less and less experience of real community integration. Yet, optimistically, as the international Occupy movement spontaneously grew alongside the Arab Spring—now having moved into the next year later’s murderous spring—the excitement of clarity about the bad, the ugly, and the brutal, and the paths to change emerged much as a bright bouquet with new fragrances. Much has been made of the lack of a strategy by the Occupy movement. And indeed it is not possible to envision a true occupation of Wall Street, or even a significant curtailment of its gangsterism without resorting to method. To think that the forces-that-be would allow protestors to non-violently shut down its bloated financial monster was naïve, but charming, and a reminder of how those of us in the sixties movement thought we could force by demonstrations and actual truths a revolution for the good of all.

The Four Notable Truths

The First Notable Truth: We, the polity, suffer due to the inequalities and dominance of the few over the many, who use every means at their disposal to plunder, control and arrange our lives for their benefit—and with less and less concern for the consequences. We live in a time of hyper-materialism—the devil has his feed, no matter the consequences.

Which leads directly to the consequence, the Second Notable Truth: There will be no significant change without campaign and financial reform of the Congress and for all elected public officials. That means those who are paid by the forces of corporate and political wealth in vast sums by lobbyists, PACs, wealthy individuals who can buy office almost directly through great expenditures on personal and perfidious savage attacks on rivals and irrelevant media campaigns that never focus on true needs and real issues, these have created a political wasteland in the US that cannot be healed without courageous and imperative reforms that take the money completely out of politics. There will be no real control of the moneyed interests, of Wall Street, no real development of a welfare state, no concerted effort towards abetting the environmental catastrophe at hand until politicians are responsible to the people only, and the people seek to enfranchise themselves once again. We must get the vandals off the handles!

The Third Notable Truth is the means for the cessation of corruption. A congress corrupted will not reform itself. A politicized Supreme Court with its Justices selected until death or until end-stage disease ends their reigns will interpret the constitution and preside over election quandaries like Bush/Gore with prejudice that serves their political loyalties. The checks and balances of the Constitution have proven ineffective. The wrecking ball of Citizens United will not stop smashing until the US Constitution is amended to get rid of corporations as people. People are people! The dominance of corrupt officials on the take, the unfair and humongous waste of mega-money on elections for overweening personal ambitions will continue and will destroy our democracy until a Constitutional amendment forbids and criminalizes the interaction of money and political office.

The mechanism to achieve this is a Constitutional amendment that takes all the money out of politics and funds political campaigns only through a tax paid equally by citizens; that eliminates lobbying with money paid to politicians—lobbying must rely solely on the power of persuasion by the merit of cause and argument, not dollars; an amendment that bars politicians from self-seeking benefits such as future corporate and lobby firm employment as rewards for favoritism; that sets term limits for all offices and protects against dynasties and dinosaur obstructionism.

The Fourth Notable Truth is the medicine that once taken sets the course ahead to representative democracy, to a society based on fairness, protection of minority rights, electoral access, kindness, caring, the long term view of benefit for all beings and earth itself. Essential political change occurs when people are emboldened to take chances for truth and fairness, for better lives for themselves, their children and future generations, when the blatant deceptions are blown apart and helplessness and immediate gratification are replaced with great concern, a passion for the truth and its implementation, when the consequences of inaction are painful and interfere with a sense of personal integrity. Whether it is the 99 percent or the 95 percent that are awakened, the ability to determine future history is in the hands of those of us who will speak out clearly, take risks for the benefit of community and friends, and stand for: A ‘No Vote’ for Any Candidate who does not support the 28th Amendment—our profound medicine.

The language of the amendment may change. There will be compromises as a movement of concerned and brave folks marches forward, but the essence cannot change: A ‘No Vote’ for anyone who does not support: Corporations are not People. People are People. All money out of politics and campaigns for political office. That is the only realism. That is our unbreakable stance. For to continue as we are is to lose much or even more of IT for most people, and to damn our spirits to a political monstrosity that has no resemblance to the America for which we have had great love. That is the essence.

The Amendment Process

Article V of the United States Constitution offers two mechanisms for its amendment: 1) Amendments can be proposed either by Congress, with a two-thirds majority vote of both houses, then sent to the State legislatures for ratification; or 2) By a national Constitutional convention convened by Congress as requested by two-thirds of the state legislatures. Amendments are enacted when ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures or by conventions in three-fourths of the states. Only the Twenty-first Amendment, which repealed Prohibition in 1933, was nearly adopted by the state convention method, Congress repealing prohibition under this threat. Most recently, the Equal Rights Amendment came closest to adoption by this second mechanism.

The first of the amendment processes appears completely out of reach. Asking the vandals to take their mitts off the handles, to give up their privileges and lucrative, unending business opportunities—pretty obvious: won’t happen!

To date, all amendments, whether ratified or not, have been proposed by a two-thirds vote in each house of Congress. Over 10,000 Constitutional amendments have been introduced in Congress since 1789. During the last several decades, between 100 and 200 have been offered in a typical Congressional year. Most of these ideas never leave Congressional committee, and of those reported to the floor for a vote, far fewer get proposed by Congress to the states for ratification.

For the second process to succeed a movement of the people will have to generate a fervent and unswerving determination to get money out of politics. It will have two sources: One, recognition that money in politics is unjust, ruins lives and the planet and serves wealth and division. Two, eliminating money from politics opens the door to fairness, opportunity for all, generosity, truthfulness, honesty, winning on the merits of an issue, cause, or right and builds precious community and trust. Continuing on the present course is irrefutably disaster, loss, and delusion. Folks will have to get this and mobilize staunchly to win at the state political level in order to win at the Federal level. The ‘Vote No!’ to any politician who fails to fully embrace this divestiture of money from politics and the ‘Vote Yes!’ for a politician who fully embraces this return to representative democracy by the people are the weapons, as are the inherent rights to freedom of speech, the press and assembly.

Recent Anti-Corruption Amendments

In the spring of 2010, Representative Keith Ellison introduced into the Congressional Record the ESRA: Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the US Constitution as written by Rabbi Michael Lerner and advocated for by Tikkun magazine and the Network of Spiritual Progressives. It is a broadly aimed social welfare, social integration, and anti-corruption proposal that has great merit and deserves mass support. To its great credit, ESRA preceded the Citizens United decision. As the harmful impact of Citizens United became more apparent, the anti-corruption aspect was tightened and made more explicit. Its form is different than that of any other proposed amendment—and farther reaching. But its lack of specific focus on anti-corruption makes it a more difficult vehicle around which to organize. ESRA is of great benefit and appeal as part of a generative movement towards true reform and sanity in political and social life.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has proposed a Constitutional amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. FEC. In March 2012, sixty-four Vermont towns successfully approved resolutions during their town meetings calling on Congress to initiate a Constitutional amendment to undo the damage caused by the Citizens United ruling. 
On April 12th,, the Vermont Senate approved a resolution that asks Congress to consider the request of those town votes and propose a Constitutional amendment to clarify that “money is not speech and corporations are not persons under the U.S. Constitution.”
 The Saving American Democracy Amendment states that:

Corporations are not persons with Constitutional rights equal to real people.
Corporations are subject to regulation by the people.
Corporations may not make campaign contributions or any election expenditures.
Congress and states have the power to regulate campaign finances.
Congratulations Bernie! Congratulations people of Vermont! You are the first state to call for the Convention. Thirty-three to go!

While a beginning, and in the right direction, in my view, the amendment does not go far enough to secure a return to representative democracy in that its scope is too limited. Without entering into a specific critique here, please compare with the amendment proposal from Profoundemocracy.com below.

The final form of the amendment to be put forth to Congress by a convention of the states does not constrain the forms that are discussed and voted upon prior to and at that convention. So a critique at this early stage is a discussion item. The heart of the matter is just what Vermont did—calling for a Constitutional convention opposing corruption and building a movement to support that process.

Lawrence Lessig’s book, The Republic Lost, is the most comprehensive analysis of the axis of political corruption and sets forth four potential remedies, of which the Constitutional convention is the most cogent and preferred. While Lessig is pessimistic about the possibility for success of an amendment and gives a probability estimate of a minimum of 10 percent, nonetheless, he sets the vector for determined action. His point of the primacy of reforming campaign and political finance is in alignment with the tenor of analyses that focus down on root cause and in fact, he calls his organization for the amendment process, the Rootstrikers.

Lessig comes from a republican conservative background and has shifted over time to what can be described as a liberal libertarian view looking to the founders, the originators of the US Constitution, for their view of the means to create and preserve a ‘republic’ based on democratically elected representation. As an authority on Constitutional law and a practicing lawyer in the courts particularly focused on freedom of speech law pertaining to the Internet and the electronic information highway, he brings an informed and activist perspective to the amendment process. Lessig’s politics also affirm the breadth of views of a potential movement—from left to right—whose quest for an end to corruption and a return to money-free representative politics opens the possibilities for a transformational polity’s expression and action.

If there is a criticism to be made of Lessig’s presentation, it is his de-criminalization of the process of corruption, its architects, and beneficiaries. He would have us see these folks as kind participants at a feeding trough that has been offered, rather than conscious participants in the corruption, in other words, a normative process. So no trials, no popular tribunals, or truly grand juries to investigate individual behavior, save when there is a direct expropriation of funds for personal gain—such law already in place for representatives. Of course, Lessig points out a myriad of side steps that elected officials can take that are acceptable and exploited as part o the dance to the self-interested music of corrupt politics. Overall, Lessig’s book is an education in the means by which corruption occurs and a thorough discussion of the options for reform.

Objections to the Amendment Process

There are two major objections and caveats that have been raised:

Term Limits: There is a fear in some members of the ‘left’ that imposition of term limits will force the few progressives out of office, like Bernie Sanders or Keith Ellison. Unfortunately, the numbers of progressives in both houses is too few and far between compared to the numbers of career politicians on the right. Historically, the Strom Thurmonds of the right, in for a lifetime, or near so, of perpetual committee leadership and patronage have obstructed the democratic process and kept it stagnant. The same is true for the Supreme Court and the tension about appointing a Justice for life, holding the polity hostage to a remote, past historic moment and the politics of former presidents. If under a truly representative democracy, progressive leadership is not invigorated and representatives replaced, than we are faced with the nature of a citizenry that has voted for what it considers its self-interest, and progressives must review their options.

Dangers of Undesirable Amendments—The ‘Runaway’ Convention: A Constitutional Convention opens the doors to any amendment occurring, not just the one that had sparked the Convention. In a tumultuous environment dominated by corrupt political interests that have un-democratic power, the right has possibilities for undermining democracy. In the present situation, that has already occurred. Yes, it could go farther—is going farther. In the situation of a mass movement that has great popular support, the Convention will seek the needs expressed and suppress the corruption. Without taking the risk, there is reason to believe all is lost, including the planet, social justice, core rights, raging class inequalities with greater and greater impoverishment, social invalidation, hopelessness, lovelessness, crime, and disenfranchisement. Indeed, we my be past the political tipping point. We may be unable to get corruption out of politics. The forces for their self-interest are immense and controlling. People do get rolled over by the tanks and think tanks of the oligarchy. Nonetheless, despite these risks, it is a social imperative to find out if representative democracy can be re-established!

The Amendment Itself
Here is the core program, rationale, and amendment format that Profoundemocracy.com proposes as a basis for dialogue and movement building. It is not presented as a final document, but as a framework and a model, open to change and development.

Call for a Constitutional Convention

A corrupt Congress will never reform itself. With the spirit of our country’s creation the people of the United States shall move to take back representative democracy with The True and Profound Democracy Amendment (also known as The Omnibus Anti-Corruption, Campaign Finance and Term Limit Amendment).

The Essential Amendment Program:

One Person. One Vote. Corporations Are Not People!
Return Representative Democracy to the People
Restore the Power of the Personal Vote
Public Campaign Finance—Stop Corporations, Big Money and the Rich from Running and Ruining the United States!
You Can’t Stop Wall Street Until You Get the Vandals off the Handles of Our Government!
The Congress is Not a Place to Get Elected in Order to Get Rich or Richer: No Corporate Financing of Elections.
No Lobbying with Money, or Promises of Rewards.
No Persons or Group of Persons May Contribute More than $100 to Any Politician or Any Single Campaign–$100 is the Limit.
Finance Electoral Campaigns with a Citizens’ Tax.
Use the FCC to Regulate Free Media Access for Election Campaigns.
Term Limits Limit Oligarchy! 12 Years Max for the Congress, Senate and Supreme Court.
Vote ‘Yes’ Only for Politicians Who Completely Support This Program in Their Platforms. A ‘No Vote’ for Any Politician Who Does Not Support the 28th Amendment.
To Serve in Congress is an Honor, Not a Career. Serve our Citizens, Not the Rich and Corporations!
Campaign Finance Reform and Prohibition Against Financial Lobbying

Whereas the US Supreme Court in the recent ruling in the Citizens United case has altered the intent of the Constitution to suggest that entities other than citizens, such as corporations or unions may have as applicable the terms of the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Amendments to the Constitution, therefore the citizens of the United States for the sake of their liberty and to reverse the pollution of the political process shall mandate that elected officials represent the citizens of this country only, and are entirely unavailable to be influenced by funds, gifts or gimmicks.

Entities such as corporations, PACs, and unions have the right to make their interests known and to influence by reasoned persuasion, not by buying the votes of elected or to-be elected officials. In addition, access by such entities to the political process through the media by influencing directly and indirectly elections of candidates, referendums, political programs and agendas—what shall be called ‘electioneering’– has an undue influence on our political life given the dollar power of such entities to procure media time. So long as there is no policy governing ‘electioneering’ relating to what constitutes undue influence, money will continue to unduly sway the political process. While the First Amendment right—Freedom of Speech—is crucial to delineate and maintain, the right of the individual to have both an equality of access to express and to be free of influences by entities directed at deluding the political process requires great discussion and careful regulation. So, too, is the need to define candidates’ media access in an equitable manner.

Therefore, the influence of self-interested funding and any form of financial lobbying of members of the Congress shall cease once and for all. Any violation of this prohibition shall be punishable by immediate expulsion from Congress following a fair hearing procedure of a special oversight committee composed of an independent panel under a special prosecutor. Criminal penalties may also apply. Violation of the restriction on outside funding by a candidate for office shall result in expulsion from the campaign, and/or nullification of a victory by a violator.

Therefore, political campaigns will henceforth be funded by assessment of a small and justifiable fee to each citizen, in a range based on a standard of the general wealth–for example between $50 to $100 dollars per citizen per year, to be distributed to candidates’ campaigns for Federal election. A discussion of how to allocate funds, and consideration of the right of citizens to direct their funds is a necessity of this process.

No candidate shall be allowed to expend more than $10,000 of their own or relatives’ and friends’ funds for any election—primary or final elections.

Therefore, the 28th Amendment shall restore democracy to the citizenry of the United States by eliminating the financial influence of entities and individuals on both the election and the political processes of the Federal government.

Only citizens are fully protected by the Constitution of the United States.

Congressional Term Limits and Congressional Reform

Representatives shall be limited to six two-year terms in Office consecutively or separately. Senators shall be limited to two six-year terms in Office. Members of both Houses shall serve without a pension and shall participate in Social Security. Congresspersons shall be paid a salary while in office and no pay when out of office. All funds in the Congressional Retirement Fund shall be placed in the Social Security System immediately on passage of the 28th Amendment. Congress shall no longer vote themselves pay raises but upon the adoption of a new pay scale to replace all pre-exiting pay contracts and rates will have salaries adjusted to the lower of either the CPI or 3 percent. Congresspersons shall participate in the US health care system just as any other US citizen and shall have their special health care insurance mechanism terminated.

Supreme Court Term Limits

Supreme Court Justices shall serve up to twelve years and no longer. This limit shall reduce the political vulnerability of the Court, enhance its contemporaneousness, and prevent the Court from suffocating change and serving the interests of elites.

The Actual Amendment Form
As per Article Two of the United States Constitution, which defines the pay of the President: Pay. The President receives “Compensation” for being the President, and this compensation may not be increased or decreased during the president’s term in office. The President may not receive other compensation from either the United States or any of the individual states.

Therefore, all Representatives and Senators elected by the citizenry of the United States also shall be so bound and this shall apply to their staffs and offices as well. Representatives and Senators receive “Compensation” for being Representatives and Senators, and this compensation may not be increased or decreased save as per the 27th Amendment: No law, varying the compensation for the services of Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened. Representatives and Senators may not receive other compensation from either the United States or any of the individual states. No other compensation may be received from any other sources whatsoever other than citizens of the United States and those amounts must be declared by each recipient and the limit on all such contributions made by individual citizens shall be set by law by Congress.

No other entity may seek to influence by electioneering, lobbying, or contribution to campaigns, parties, and candidates for election to the Presidency and both houses of Congress. Only citizens of the United States have the right to vote and the citizens of the United States have the right to have their President, Representatives and Senators solely represent them and no other entity. The Bill of Rights applies solely to citizens of the United States as per the Constitution and not to any other entity.

Congress shall have the right to assess and collect funds from the citizenry on an equal person by person basis for the sake of making funds available directly to candidates for election and this revenue shall be the sole source available for electioneering.

The terms of Representatives shall be limited to six, or a total of twelve years. The number of terms for Senators shall be limited to two, or twelve years.

Federal political campaigns will henceforth be funded by assessment of a small and justifiable fee to each citizen, in a range based on a standard of the general wealth–for example, between $50 to $100 dollars per citizen per year, to be distributed to candidates’ campaigns for Federal election on the basis of the results of primary campaigns, this range to be set by Congress.

No candidate shall be allowed to expend more than a total of $10,000 of their own, or relatives’ and friends’ funds for any primary or general election.

Any violation of this prohibition shall be punishable by immediate expulsion from Congress following a fair hearing procedure of a special oversight committee composed of an independent panel under a special prosecutor. Criminal penalties may also apply. Violation of the restriction on outside funding by a candidate for office shall result in expulsion from the campaign, and/or nullification of a victory by a violator.

Members of both Houses shall serve without a pension and shall participate in Social Security. Congresspersons shall be paid a salary while in office and no pay when out of office. All funds in the Congressional Retirement Fund shall be placed in the Social Security System immediately on passage of the 28th Amendment. Congress shall no longer vote themselves pay raises but upon the adoption of a new pay scale to replace all pre-exiting pay contracts, in the future salaries shall be adjusted to the lower of either the CPI or 3 percent. Congresspersons shall participate in the US health care system as do other US citizens and shall have their special health care insurance mechanism terminated.

The Term of Service for all Supreme Court Justices shall be limited to at most twelve years time.

Phil Wolfson, M.D., is a practicing psychiatrist/psychotherapist in the Bay Area. He is the author of Noe: A Father-Son Song of Love, Life, Sickness, and Death. He is an activist and proud contributor to Tikkun who writes on philosophy, politics, psychedelics, and spiritual/social/personal transformation.

The Huffington Post publishes our short version of the Amendment Proposal!

Phil Wolfson, MD

Psychiatrist and author

Return Representative Democracy to the People. Get Money and Privilege Out of Politics.

The Four Notable Truths

A movement of the people has begun. A fundamental political and social realization is spreading. It will come to define our time. We will reclaim democracy ours, our children’s, and grandchildren’s possibilities for life, love, safety and prosperity, or fall further into decline, depression, and confusion.

It has been clear for decades that there is an ongoing erosion of the ability and power of our citizenry to govern itself. I am an old and proud ’60s warrior and have a vista that begins with McCarthyism in the 1950s and remember well its grey and oppressive political and cultural oppression. For a time there was relief and new life and an increase in the quality of the welfare state. However, since the ’70s, a reactionary and selfish oligarchy composed of corporate and individual wealth and their paid bureaucratic servants have tightened its grip on our country’s governance. The means to this has been increasingly vast sums of money funneled into the electoral process and the accelerating influence of lobbyists on elected officials. The Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court opened the floodgates wide, but the truth is that the electoral and governance processes long have been reducing themselves to the rule of money, influence, and privilege by the few over the many.

Rich personalities dominate our political life, as if the public welfare is irrelevant. Law is made based on special interests introducing their favored agendas having given favors to their designated favored politicians. Or, on the calculations of politicians as to who will give the most money to their extraordinarily expensive election and re-election campaigns. And as our two parties seem more and more alike, the interest in truly different choices is nearly gone. Money rules throughout the political process, almost without exception. The Republic based on the people’s interests having sway through an unpolluted representative democracy is gone. Money and government are nearly one. The interests of the earth and our people — the 99% — are virtually unrepresented. And the size of the collusion and the mega interests involved is overwhelming and makes change for the good truly difficult to conceive as possible.

Check this out and see if the numbers themselves startle you into a deeper consciousness:

  • From 1999 to 2011, Wall Street spent $4.8 billion on lobbying — that was what was reported. PACS and individuals in this sector (by report) made over 1 billion dollars in campaign contributions.
  • In 2011 (a non-election year), the total amount spent by 12,633 registered lobbyists in the federal sector was $3.3 billion. Super PACs reported raising 153 million dollars through March 27, 2012 — first quarter reports are not yet in.
  • The wealth of members of Congress themselves is staggering — about 50 percent are millionaires, and the top 10 in wealth are worth over $3 billion (conflicts of interest anyone?).
  • In 1974, the total amount spent by all candidates running for Congress was $77 million. In 1982, $343 million. In 2010, $1.8 billion. In 2010, additionally, the total amount contributed to political parties amounted to $2.8 billion.
  • Obama is at over $197 million collected for his campaign as of the end of March. Romney with a late start was a $87 million.
  • By various estimates, political office holders spent 30 to 70 percent of their working hours raising funds for re-election. They are not talking to Mr. and Mrs. Joe Average American. Rather, the conversations are with rich donors, lobbyists, PACs, corporations, and special interests — not you. With the Citizens United decision, the unregulated stampede of campaign cash from corporate sources promotes an even greater divide between elected officials and the populace.
  • And the awards for becoming a Congressperson or Senator by any measurement are not restricted to terms of office. Far more lucrative are the transitions to careers as ‘lobbyists’ with as many as 50 percent of Senators and 42 percent of Representatives moving over to the side they regulated (perhaps) and benefited.
  • One calculation is that for every dollar a lobbying firm spends on Congress people for targeted tax benefits, the return on that investment in special goodies is $6 to 20. A great investment indeed!
  • At the federal level these Congressional gifts to their patrons include: earmarks, special allowances, innumerable tax loopholes, regressive taxation, failure to tax corporations appropriately and to collect taxes. It comes out of our hides one way or another. We pay them and they — Congress and the President — further indebt us in the interests of bailing out banks and Wall Street who have already pillaged us and continually attack the bits of remaining social welfare — education, Social Security, Medicare, children’s health, Planned Parenthood, contraception, won’t tax the rich, etc., etc. Precious few of our elected officials are defending the welfare state, still fewer advocating for its expansion — and yet the welfare state’s depth of support for its people is the benchmark for fairness, social justice, equality, access, care, friendliness, opportunity, prosperity, longevity, healthiness, quality of life.

So that is the diagnosis, The First Notable Truth: We, the polity, suffer due to the inequalities and dominance of the few over the many, who use every means at their disposal to plunder, control and arrange our lives for their benefit–and with less and less concern for the consequences. We live in a time of hyper-materialism — the devil has his feed, no matter the consequences.

Which leads directly to the consequence, The Second Notable Truth: There will be no significant change without campaign and financial reform of the Congress and for all elected public officials. There will be no real control of the moneyed interests, of Wall Street, no real development of a welfare state, no concerted effort towards abetting the environmental catastrophe at hand until politicians are responsible to the people only, and the people seek to enfranchise themselves once again.

The Third Notable Truth is the means for the cessation of corruption. A Congress corrupted will not reform itself. A politicized Supreme Court with its Justices selected until death or until end-stage disease ends their reigns will interpret the Constitution and preside over election quandaries like Bush/Gore with prejudice that serves their political loyalties. The checks and balances of the Constitution have proven ineffective. The wrecking ball of Citizens United will not stop smashing until the U.S. Constitution is amended to get rid of corporations as people. People are people!

The mechanism to achieve this is a constitutional amendment — the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — that takes all the money out of politics and funds political campaigns only through a tax paid equally by citizens; that eliminates lobbying with money paid to politicians –lobbying must rely solely on the power of persuasion by the merit of cause and argument, not dollars; an amendment that bars politicians from self-seeking benefits such as future corporate and lobby firm employment as rewards for favoritism; that sets term limits for all offices and protects against dynasties and dinosaur obstructionism.

The Fourth Notable Truth is the medicine that once taken sets the course ahead to representative democracy, to a society based on fairness, protection of minority rights, electoral access, kindness, caring, the long term view of benefit for all beings and earth itself. Essential political change occurs when people are emboldened to take chances for truth and fairness, for better lives for themselves, their children and future generations, when the blatant deceptions are blown apart and helplessness and immediate gratification are replaced with great concern, a passion for the truth and its implementation, when the consequences of inaction are painful and interfere with a sense of personal integrity. The language of the amendment may change. There will be compromises as a movement of concerned and brave folks marches forward, but this essence cannot change.

Call for a Constitutional Convention

A corrupt Congress will never reform itself. With the spirit of our country’s creation the people of the United States shall move to take back representative democracy:

The Essential Amendment Program:

  • One Person/ One Vote. Corporations are not People!
  • Restore the Power of the Personal Vote
  • Public Campaign Finance
  • No Corporate Financing of Elections.
  • No Lobbying with Money, or the Potential of Future Rewards.
  • No Persons or Group of Persons May Contribute More than100 to Any Politician or Any Single Campaign–100 is the Limit.
  • Finance Electoral Campaigns with a Citizens Tax.
  • Term Limits Limit Oligarchy!
  • 12 Years Max for the Congress, Senate and Supreme Court!
  • Vote Only for Politicians Who Completely Support This Program in Their Platforms: A ‘No Vote’ for Any Politician Who Does Not Support the 28th Amendment.
  • To Serve in Congress is an Honor, Not a Career. Serve our Citizens, Not the Rich and Corporations!
  • The Congress is Not a Place to Get Elected in Order to Get Rich or Richer: For the text of our proposed amendment, please visit www.profoundemocracy.com.

 

Bernie Sanders and Vermont Petition for a Constitutional Convention!

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has proposed a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. FEC.  In March 2012, sixty-four Vermont towns successfully approved resolutions during their town meetings calling on Congress to initiate a constitutional amendment to undo the damage caused by the Citizens United ruling.
 On April 12th, , the Vermont Senate approved a resolution that asks Congress to consider the request of those town votes and propose a constitutional amendment to clarify that “money is not speech and corporations are not persons under the U.S. Constitution.”

The Saving American Democracy Amendment states that:

  • Corporations are not persons with constitutional rights equal to real people.
  • Corporations are subject to regulation by the people.
  • Corporations may not make campaign contributions or any election expenditures.
  • Congress and states have the power to regulate campaign finances.

 

Congratulations Bernie!  Congratulations people of Vermont!  You are the first state to call for the Convention.  33 to go!

Other 28th Amendment Versions

Other 28th Amendments to the US Constitution

 

 From Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont: 
A Petition to Support the Saving American Democracy Amendment
Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court decision in a case called Citizens United vs. FEC.

 

The Saving American Democracy Amendment states that:

  • Corporations are not persons with constitutional rights equal to real people.
  • Corporations are subject to regulation by the people.
  • Corporations may not make campaign contributions or any election expenditures.
  • Congress and states have the power to regulate campaign finances.

 

 

Check out Lawrence Lessig’s  www.rootstikers.org and their:

 

HOW DO WE CLEAN UP POLITICS?

  • 1. Provide that public elections are publicly funded;
  • 2. Limit, and make transparent, independent political expenditures, and;
  • 3. Reaffirm that when the Declaration of Independence spoke of entities “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” it was speaking of natural persons only.

 

And from www.wolf-pac.com:

28th Amendment

Posted by Aaron Wysocki 916pc on October 19, 2011 · Flag

Corporations are not people. They have none of the Constitutional rights of human beings. Corporations are not allowed to give money to any politician, directly or indirectly. No politician can raise over $100 from any person or entity. All elections must be publicly financed.

And of course, Tikkun, the Network of Spiritual Progressives and  Rabbi Michael Lerner’s ESRA Amendment at:

http://spiritualprogressives.org/newsite/?page_id=117

Send in your sites and versions please

Platform for the 2012 Presidential Campaign–Support only those politicians who agree to this or a similar platform

Profoundemocracy is pleased to post our platform for the 2012 campaign on our masthead.  To take back political power from corrupt bought-out politicians and from the PACs and wealthy individuals and corporations who are destroying our representative democracy, vote only for those who support the 28th Amendment to the US Constitution and who agree to a platform as above.  Our platform is meant to arouse interest, commentary, and revision, so please feel free to express your views.