I'm Mike. I probably haven't spoken to many of you personally, but you may have seen me wandering around in a Hawaiian shirt, taking photos, and scribbling notes for the Buffalo Beast, on and off over the weekend.
Since I have not been involved in planning, I hope it's not gauche of me to introduce myself with an agenda, but I feel that deciding on a clearly defined -- though not exclusive -- platform is critical, and something that ought to be aided in any way possible.
Bear with me here on the background of this.
I'm forwarding a proposal that isn't my own, but comes through channels that've earned my respect during the fallout of financial collapse; especially with regard to the ongoing involvement of the Koch brothers in undermining democracy and social programs via their massive lobbying and think tank efforts (not wholly related, but our Beast editor, Ian Murphy, was the prank caller who broke the Scott Walker - Charles Koch collusion in Wisconsin during the union battle, by posing as the billionaire in a phone call to the dimwitted politician).
Our sister publication, The Exiled, was founded by Mark Ames and Matt Taibbi. Though Taibbi moved on, Ames continues his tenacious coverage of labor/class issues, and of the Koch story in particular, breaking new revelations frequently.
I'm sorry to ramble, but I just want to establish that the proposal I'm referring to didn't come from nowhere. Ames is a frequent guest on MSNBC host, Dylan Ratigan's show, and both speak along lines consistent with the grievances and hopes ostensibly common within the Occupy movement. Ratigan rants often, schools free market pundits, etc., and seems legit to me at least. The Citizens United decision gave him the impetus to create a short (what he calls "caveman") phrase, GET MONEY OUT -- referring to the now literal currency of political influence. Specifically, it's an amendment proposal (written on Dylan's behalf by a former Washington lobbyist), with a site and petition containing currently 80K out of their goal of 100K signees.
The draft's text:
"No person, corporation or business entity of any type, domestic or foreign, shall be allowed to contribute money, directly or indirectly, to any candidate for Federal office or to contribute money on behalf of or opposed to any type of campaign for Federal office. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, campaign contributions to candidates for Federal office shall not constitute speech of any kind as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution or any amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Congress shall set forth a federal holiday for the purposes of voting for candidates for Federal office."
Ratigan has stated his wish that the Occupy movement pick up on this as a demand, and help force it into the national forum. One dude at the 10/03/11 OLA general assembly emphasized the signifant role of money in politics, which has crippled the political process, and is a formidable (though not yet impossible) obstacle to many real reforms (including this one!). Ratigan has argued that many politicians face either having short and marginal political careers trying to secure funding from non-corporate sources to compete with the reach, and spit/polish of their competitors; or wind up perpetually beholden to the interests which got them elected. The majority of them being too afraid for their ambitions to be the first to "put down their guns" when they believe the other guy won't. So, he says, the only solution would be to disable the influence corporations may wield totally, in one fell swoop.
From my perspective, he's offering something clear and definite to espouse (though it absolutely need NOT be the only or last thing put forth by the group) containing substantial overlap with concerns stated by occupiers -- and no conflict that I can see -- as well as a ready-made mainstream media venue to provide ongoing coverage of the movement (at least to the extent that the movement concerns itself with corporate-political corruption).
I hope this makes sense -- I haven't slept much. Let me know your thoughts, and I hope to dialog on this at some point when I see you tomorrow.