Democracy Awakening Crosses the Ocean, From Wash DC to France

As thousands of people assemble in Washington DC for a week of rallies called "Democracy Awakening," the same is happening in France, as all-night long rallies continue for a second week.

Called Nuit Debout (Rise Up At Night), an estimated 120,000 gather at 6PM each night, discussing austerity, increasing inequality, privatization, anti-immigrant policies, the security crackdown and climate change. Over the weekend, rallies were held in more than 50 cities in France, and in Belgium, Germany, and Spain. Next week, they move to London.

Similar to Occupy in the US, committees form to work on specific issues, and whiteboards list the evening’s discussions and activities – from debates on economics to media training for demonstrators, reports The Guardian. "No hatred, no arms, no violence," is the credo.

Protest France

"This movement was not born and will not die in Paris. From the Arab Spring to the 15M Movement, from Tahrir Square to Gezi park, Republic square and the plenty of other places occupied tonight in France are depicting the same angers, the same hopes and the same conviction: the need for a new society, where Democracy, Dignity and Liberty would not be hollow shells," says a statementissued by the "Occupy" Nuit Debout public assemblies.

Of course, we haven’t heard a peep about this in the US mainstream media.

Democracy Awakening in the US

Thousands of people are in Washington DC for a week of action to take back our democracy from big money.

700 people have been arrested during massive sit-ins on the steps of the US Capitol.

Hundreds walked 150 miles from Philadelphia, and all are getting training on civil disobedience in advance of rallies, direct actions, sit-ins, and teach-ins. The events culminate "with a Congress of Conscience Day of Action" on Monday April 18.

On Thursday, the focus is on labor; Friday it’s about youth and students; and Saturday, it’s about climate justice.

Arriving from Phili:

Protest Democracy Awakening

"Corporate interests are holding our democracy hostage. Voter suppression is running rampant, fossil fuel money is warping our electoral process and now, leaders in Congress are even blocking fair consideration of a Supreme Court nominee," says Rachel Rye Butler of Greenpeace.

Hundreds of advocacy groups and unions are there, representing the environment, voting access, reproductive rights, labor, LGBT and many other issues.

Their goal is for Congress to pass four bills:

  • Government by the People Act/ Fair Elections Now Act: changes campaign funding rules to amplify small contributions from average Americans.
  • Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015: restores and increases protection against voter discrimination.
  • Voter Empowerment Act of 2015: modernizes voter registration and ensures equal access to voting for all.
  • Democracy for All Amendment: overturns Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United and limits the influence of money in politics.

They are also "calling on the Senate to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court who will vote to uphold political equality."

You can follow the action at #DemocracySpring, #DemocracyAwakening and #FightBigMoney.

Americans Agree

"There is widespread recognition among politicians and pundits that Americans are sharply divided by party on virtually all of the big questions facing our country. Everyone knows this is just the way things are, and it’s why we have gridlock in Congress. But here’s one thing: That story is not true," says Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen.

"In fact, Americans overwhelmingly agree on a wide range of issues. They want policies to make the economy more fair and hold corporate executives accountable. They want stronger environmental and consumer protections. And they want to fix our political system so that it serves the interest of all, not just Big Money donors.

"The problem is that the corporate class doesn’t agree with this agenda, and that class dominates our politics," adds Weissman.

  • the top 1% are using their influence to shape the rules of the economy to their advantage – 83% agree
  • favor a steep rise in the minimum wage – 75% agree.
  • oppose corporate trade deals like the TransPacific Partnership – by margins of about 2-1
  • most favor breaking up the big banks; 90% want financial services regulated.
  • Four of five voters want to expand Social Security benefits.
  • 66% want corporate and other tax loopholes closed, and want the rich pay more taxes.
  • 75% want strong environmental standards.

And In Canada

The left is also rising in Canada, with a resolution passed by the New Democratic Party (NDP) to "recognize and support" the Leap Manifesto. It calls for a swift transition to 100% renewable energy, and the rejection of fossil fuels and pipelines. It calls for an all-out program that trains people for low-carbon jobs, particularly those in low income and fossil-dependent communities.

"Climate scientists have told us this is the decade to take decisive action to prevent catastrophic global warming. That means small steps will no longer suffice, so we need to leap," says the Leap Manifesto.

NDP resolution doesn’t adopt the manifesto, but launches district-level debates about it across the country.

May 4-15, Break Free From Fossil Fuels:

Coordinated actions around the world will demand a rapid transition to renewable energy, and an end to taking fossil fuels out of the ground.

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