Ralph Nader's Huge "Breaking Through Power" Event/Program - Sounds Almost Great on Paper, But My Warning
(Nader interviewed by Thom Harmann on this subject, here)
Celebrating the 50th anniversary year of Ralph Nader’s book Unsafe at Any Speed, the Center for Study of Responsive Law announces four days of civic mobilization at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. on May 23, 24, 25 and 26, 2016. Unsafe at Any Speed unleashed fresh energies and sparked the creation of numerous advocacy organizations leading to major consumer, environmental and worker safety protections.
The theme of this citizen mobilization will be elaborating ways to break through power to secure long-overdue democratic solutions made possible by a new muscular civic nexus between 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. The participants will be asked to support the creation of several new organizations. One such group will work to open up the commercial media, which use the public airwaves free of charge, to serious content. Another will facilitate action by retired military, national security and diplomatic officials who want to deter unconstitutional and unlawful plunges into wars that lead to calamitous and costly blowbacks.
This “Civic Mobilization” will involve thousands of people at Constitution Hall and around the country and connect long-available knowledge to long-neglected action for the necessities and aspirations of people from all backgrounds. Many of the presentations will feature reforms and redirections for the common good enjoy Left/Right support.
Breaking Through Power: How it’s Done—May 23, 2016 will feature presentations by seventeen citizen advocacy groups. Over decades these activists have produced amazing accomplishments against powerful odds. These civic leaders will demonstrate how, with modest budgets and stamina, they have improved the health, safety and economic well-being of the people and focused public opinion onto decision-makers and opponents. Through greater visibility, broader support and wider emulation, they will present their future missions and show that it can be “easier than we think” to make major changes. For the first time ever, this diverse group of fighters for justice will be assembled together on stage at Constitution Hall and show that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts when fighting for a broader democratic society. The presenters will appraise what levels of citizen organization is necessary to fulfill these broadly-desired missions.
Breaking Through Power: The Media—May 24, 2016, brings together also for the first time a large gathering of authors, documentary filmmakers, reporters, columnists, musicians, poets and editorial cartoonists. All of these presenters have documented or depicted entrenched wrongdoing by the corporate state or “crony capitalism”—the cruel impacts of corporate crimes and abuses, the absence of governmental law enforcement, and the harmful effects of concentrated corporate power.
The speakers all seek wider audiences for their works: more readers, viewers and listeners. Unfortunately the mass media barons prefer to wallow in incessant advertising, hedonistic entertainment, sports and mind-numbing redundancy. The result is what many observers see as the stupefaction of human intelligence. A major purpose of Day Two is the creation of a “Voices” advocacy organization that puts forces in motion to inject serious programming into the over-the-air and cable networks under a revitalized Communications Act of 1934 and generally champion a greater life of the mind on all media.
Breaking Through Power: War—May 25, 2016 is dedicated to enhancing the waging of peace over the waging of war. We will assemble leading scholars having military and national security backgrounds, veterans groups such as Veterans for Peace, and long-time peace advocacy associations, to explain how peace is more powerful than war. The speakers will address the horrors of war, its huge costs here and abroad to innocents and the weakening blowbacks of Empire amidst a collapse of constitutional and international law. One outcome of this day will be the establishment of a Secretariat comprised of current and former top-level military, national security and diplomatic officials who have spoken truth to reckless power. If organized for quick responses, their credibility, experience and wisdom can resist and prevent the kind of prevaricating pressures and unilateral policies that drove the unlawful destruction of Iraq, Libya and beyond.
Breaking Through Power: Congress—May 26, 2016 will unveil a new Civic Agenda to be advanced by engaged and enraged citizens in each Congressional district. The Civic Agenda includes recognized necessities ignored by Congress for decades. The planks of this Civic Agenda will be presented by nationally-recognized advocates—a veritable brain trust for the well-being of present and future generations. Each speaker will present the substance of each demand, which will be conveyed to their members of Congress via organized “Citizen Summons” in each Congressional District. 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 possibilities and respect posterity.
It's this last section I find concerning. "Citizen Summons" sounds weak to me. I have been arguing for muscular approaches. That means (to me) that no matter what strategy you're pursuing, citizens need to marry activist efforts to credible electoral threats.
Citizens need to organize into voting blocs, and not imagine that they can consistently bring feather dusters to a gun fight, and win.
I haven't written about this, yet, but a useful characterization/typology of vote bloc technologies are:
* Issue Centric vs. Politician Centric (picture this domain as 2 half-planes, divided vertically.
* Positive vs. Negative (picture this domain as 2 half-planes, divided horizontally)
* In the Issue Centric / Positive quarter plane, would sit Nancy Bordier's Interactive Voter Choice System
* In the Politician Centric / Positive quarter plane, would sit votizen.com, as it existed a few years ago (now buried, for reasons unknown to me; a votizen co-founder, Jason Putorti, has re-acquired the code base and other assets, via his new company brigade.com, but their status is still murky) See the following, to get a good idea of votizen.com during its glory days: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4cl9vbzNWM
* in the Politician + Issue / Negative half plain would sit Voter's Revenge.
IMO, all 3 of these approaches can be synergistic. I did write about anticipated synergy between votizen and Voter's Revenge, here: