Page 16


grass roots, which began in covert earnest in 1974 and is now completed: in sum, the governance of the United States by corporation CEOs in both Republican and Democratic false-face. We have been trying to save political democracy and to institute economic democracy. We have failed. We have all failed. Albert Camus said despair is the one sin we are not permitted. That’s right. None of us knows whether there’s hope, or it’s over. That’s why there’s hope. I believe the policy focus now should reflect the actually desperate new realities by shifting to how to change the means of change in the democratic system. How can we start a new country inside this one? A new constitutional convention, to start all over again. But how, how, how, can this be brought to pass? To have an independent citizens’ convention, contributions to candidates for delegates to it would need to be limited to $100 from real, human persons who live in the candidates’ home districts. Without a radically democratic election process, the corporations govern the convention too. The means for changing the democratic system are corrupted by the same corporations which have corrupted the system. Community and neighborhood organization, local democracy in emergence, as best exemplified by the great achievements of Ernesto Cortes and the Industrial Areas Foundation, must continue and spread. Thank God, Ralph Nader will go on proliferating reform groups on specific issues. But that sort of thing may take more time than democracy has. We must have a new, fresh democratic revolutionyes, another one, a new one, here and now. I advocate the formation of a national citizens’ movement of progressive democratic activists, a movement explicitly independent of affiliation with or control by the Democratic Party, its members paying substantial dues and communicating and working together. Rapidly this movement has to become international because nothing can control the international corporations from within a nation even if it is the United States. I call your attention to the formation of a shrewd new progressive third party, the New Party, in Wisconsin. As Joel Rogers, a theoretician of the New Party, says, the relationship between the Democratic Party and progressives is an abusive one. Th-, party that used to be progressive now relentlessly scorns and abuses who and what it used to be. Under the two-party system, going third party is most likely to help the candidates and the party that you most detest. The New Party is founded on the determination to avoid doing that as long as possible while building a real organization. In two years of running for local offices in eight states, the New Party has elected 39 of its 59 candidates. When it goes head to head against Democrats, it plans to do so well, at firstin fusion states where the Democrat can also run as a New Party candidate. I now regard myself as an independent interested in participating in both the Democratic Party and the New Party, which I have joined. But sooner or later the New Party may not be able to break the trap, “Go third party and help elect the candidates you detest.” Therefore, it’s just part of a strategy to build a new movement. I believe the new umbrella issues of a citizens’ movement, and such a party as the new one I’ve been describing, should be, first, campaign finance reform limiting campaign contributions to $100 from a flesh-and-blood person who lives in the candidate’s district, matched to free and equal television time for candidates; second, the renewal of the definition of the corporation as a figment and creature of the state and then the transformation, strict regulation, and when necessary the revocation of the existence of corporations by the people who are their sovereign source; third, federal partisanship forthat is, in favor oflabor unions, conditioned on their fresh definition at law as a necessarily democratic institutions which, among other things, actively organize the unorganized; fourth, single-payer national health insurance; fifth, a huge public-investment program matched to the restoration of the progressivity of the income tax; and sixth, the internationalization of progressive political values and policies. The first five mean a cleansed and revived political and eco nomic democracy; the internationalization of our political values means cleansing the progressive movement of jingoism, bringing forth a new national and international humanist movement in which \(to hark back we find the ways to be loyal to our country and to the human race at the same time. WE’ RE ALL FROM Texas, right? No, no. We’re all from everywhere. Someone ask me, “Where you from?” I’m from Bosnia, Haiti, and Rwanda. I’m from Chicago, San Antonio, and New York City. I’m from Hiroshima, My Lai, and Auschwitz. I’m from Port Aransas, Acapulco, and Wellfleet, Paris, Moscow, and Jerusalem, Beijing, Calcutta, and Beirut. We’re all from everywhere. We’re all just one person from everywhere. Our plurality-take-all voting system can still be changed at the local and state levels without a constitutional amendment. Proportional representation and cumulative voting, variations of which are used throughout Europe and elsewhere, end the two-party system and replace it with truly representative ways of deciding who wins. It’s not “If you get less than the most votes, you waste your vote.” It’s “If you vote for a smaller party, and your side gets 5 percent of the vote, your vote is not wastedyou elect someone you want.” The Center for Voting and Democracy in Washington is promoting this now in the U.S. Some of the states are not yet locked up tightly by the governing corporations. The Center for a New Democracy in Washington, in tandem with Ralph Nader and Common Cause, is campaigning for five proposals on state ballots this November which, to simplify them, limit campaign contributions to $100. That’s another undertaking to change the means of change. Remember, whenever Frankie Randolph rose up to speak as the Democratic national committeewoman from Texas, she’d always say “Work in your precincts.” Sometimes she’d just say that and sit down. “Work in your precincts,” she’d say in her raspy baritone. She was trying to lead us then to save political democracy, and for a couple of shining years in the late ’50s she did. Through the Harris and Bexar County Democrats, Texas progressives were taking the state party away from the corporate shills and defying the two Rayburn and Johnson. What the corporations and the political establishment feared was vibrant, truly democratic political organizations in the big cities, which would tell politicians what-for and beat them if they sold out to the corporations. Ralph Yarborough was elected then. Bob Eckhardt was elected then. That could happen again only, I think, if the Democratic Party was purged at the top by a successful populist challenge for the presidential nomination. In this new situation nothing is more important than journalism that can’t be bought, journalism that investigates and fronts up to the corporations on any and every one of their malefactions and corruptions. The importance of the Observer in the future will depend first, now, on how quickly and effectively the new group raise tax-exempt contributions from foundations and individuals. No reason, now, being nonprofit, not to think bigI’d say go for a million the first year. Then, although only then, the importance of the Observer will depend on the social seriousness of the stories and subjects its staff choose to investigate and report on, and the quality of the journalism. What to give your time to? There is the question! I know you can tell from listening to Geoff Rips tonight that the right person is in charge. To the new directors of the Texas Democracy Foundation I say, I am proud of my part in creating the Observer, a place of freedom, freedom from commercial control, in a culture that needs ethical freedom of expression more desperately than it ever 8 DECEMBER 30, 1994