Could #OccupyWallStreet Become a Constitutional Convention?
Last week, Rachel Maddow interviewed Harvard law professor, Lawrence Lessig (video above) about his new book, Republic Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It, which details the problems caused by our money-soaked political system and explains the method the framers of our Constitution developed for dealing with such a situation. The process involves 34 states calling for a new constitutional convention. And in this context of the ongoing Occupy Wall Street movement and Occupy events around the country, hearing Lessig explain this solution, I couldn't help but wonder if OWS could eventually end up becoming the driving force behind a new constitutional convention. Well, as of this morning, it might be happening.After weeks of pundits and observers demanding OWS release some list of demands, the OWS Demands Working Group has just announced a call for a national convention to be held July 4, 2012.
From the Huffington Post:
While an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Occupy Wall Street protesters flooded into Times Square on Saturday, there was still a regular New York general assembly at 7 p.m. During that meeting, according to sources who contacted The Huffington Post, the Zuccotti Park General Assembly -- though at a reduced presence due to the Times Square march -- saw the formation of a new working group.
This "Demands Working Group" then immediately "established a website and fairly educated/articulated list of solutions." A separate group out of Zuccotti Park has also been working on a list of possible proposals, but a member of the Education and Empowerment Working Group said he suspects the Demands Working Group's list might become the national platform.
They've posted the list online but they've also made this announcement under the radar -- a national convention to be held July 4, 2012:
Their plan includes to elect delegates by direct vote, one male and one female per each of the 435 Congressional Districts. The office would be open to any United States citizen over the age of 18. The 870 delegates would then compose a petition of grievances that would be non-partisan.
You can read the full declaration and the list of demands here.
It's too early to tell if OWS is intending to push for Constitutional conventions and this national convention is not exactly the structure of what Lessig explains in the video above, but it is clearly much more than a march or standard protest. And that has been the genius of the NYC General Assembly process. None of this has simply been what we consider standard protests or a bunch of people showing up in the streets. That's part of it, sure, but General Assembly is itself an entirely different method of political activity that has not existed in this way, on this scale, in the US before. Mother Jones has a good piece on the origins of #OWS and the General Assembly. There are lots of good links there, as well. I recommend it for a good overview of the General Assembly origins and process, if you're interested.
So what does this all have to do with TreeHugger? Well, as we've written many times before, money from the oil and coal industries and people like the Koch brothers are having a huge and problematic impact on our Congress and they policy they enact (or block, as the case may be). As Lessig explains in his book, the only way to fix this is through a new Constitutional convention. I hope the people behind OWS are aware of this and try to push the discussion in that direction.
This would undeniably be a huge undertaking, but most great things are.
UPDATE: Via RawStory: Lessig spoke to #OccupyDC on Saturday about political corruption and why #OWS should join forces with the Tea Party. Video below.