We at Occupy Bellingham are writing to raise the questions that we are asking ourselves: Do you feel that our government truly represents the people? Do you feel that the current system is working for us; for our community, our Nation and our planet?
We at Occupy Bellingham believe the current system is no longer representative of the American people. It is a system where career politicians are bought by corporations in return for the millions of dollars in private campaign contributions that it takes to be elected into either the US Senate or House of Representatives. From 2004 to 2008, an average of 85% of US Senate races were won by the candidate who spent the most money during their campaign, as were an average of 95% of races in the House1.
The disparity of representation between public and corporate interests is only going to widen, because of two Supreme Court decisions, Citizens United v. FEC and Buckley v. Valeo, in which our government maintained that corporations are People and that spending money to influence elections is a form of constitutionally protected Free Speech. Now corporations may spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections at all levels of government. State and Local Sovereignty is threatened when a non-resident US or foreign company is allowed to fund a candidate their CEO thinks will best support that corporation’s private designs, instead of upholding the democratic will of the People. Only 22% of US voters know about either of these two decisions2, yet it’s plain to see that if money is speech then speech is NOT free. The specter of corporate personhood threatens the very soul of our democracy.
As Abraham Lincoln warned, “corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money powers of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign … until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed.” We stand now before that precipice, and only through the constant vigilance and determined actions of an informed public, one willing to put aside their differences for the sake of their common humanity, can we hope to avoid toppling over the brink.
Occupy Bellingham, in unison with the global occupation movements taking place in hundreds of cities across our nation and in over 80 countries worldwide, is organizing to end corporate personhood, get money out of politics, and promote complete transparency in finance and government. We believe these are goals that will resonate with all people, from the tea party to the far left and everyone in between who believes that government of the people, by the people, for the people must not be allowed to perish from this earth. That is why we occupy. That is why we need your help. We ask you to join us, in common purpose with all who share our struggle to free American democracy from the excesses of corporate greed, and to show your support however you may best afford, or in whatever way you find most meaningful.
Whether or not you feel that Occupy Bellingham embodies your own feelings or beliefs, we write you in friendship, with open arms, minds and hearts and a willingness to listen. We wish for Occupy Bellingham to be a truly inclusive and representative, nonpartisan democracy of the people of Bellingham and Whatcom County. We can’t do this without your voice: without hearing from each and every person, neighborhood, community business, church or organization that loves and lives in Whatcom County.