Washington, DC (TFC) – Represent Us is the grassroots organization responsible for drafting the provisional Anti-Corruption Act. This bill is designed with the singular purpose of taking the influence of big money from lobbyists and Super Pacs out of the political system. Represent Us has been making headway and gaining momentum ever since Tallahassee, FL became the first municipality in American history to pass legislation criminalizing corruption on election day of last year. Represent Us hopes to see more expansion throughout the rest of 2015. By 2016, they hope to have 12 new municipal chapters as well as 2 state senators sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Act. Represent Us is taking their momentum from last year into 2015, starting the year off with a nationwide protest scheduled for April 15, American corruption’s birthday, also known as tax day. They are calling it Representation Day.
On April 15, cities all across America will orchestrate unique demonstrations in front of government buildings, peacefully demanding representation on the day the government demands we pay it large sums of money to allow it to fund its illegal spying networks, its militarized police force that is killing over 1000 people a year, and the corrupt Federal Reserve Banks that make inflation and poverty statistical certainties with no viable political solutions. “We have tremendous political and geographical diversity in our chapters and that will be reflected in the different locations, style and time of the April 15 events,” says Represent Us Spokesperson, Tzipora Lederman in regards to urging creativity in the demonstrations.
Each individual event will be different, made unique by the community organizing it. Though the events will differ in execution, the overarching theme of the day remains the same: We want Congress to Represent Us, not corporate interests. You can see a list of all the cities with events planned and links to each event’s Facebook page here. You can get involved and start your own campaign here. If you happen to live in Evansville, IN, you can add your name to a petition for a local Represent Us chapter I started here. To learn why I think everyone in America should be paying attention to Represent Us, read this.
So far nearly 30 cities in 21 states have committed participation to the April 15 day of action. Each individual chapter has its own unique approach to the April 15 protest. Some cities will protest around US post office buildings, some around city halls, all will be unified beneath the yellow Represent Us banners, signifying the intense frustration felt by so many Americans at the broken political system that no longer represents them. With over a quarter of a million fans on Facebook, Represent Us is growing rapidly, providing a voice to thousands of individuals relegated to the silent majority. When I spoke with Tzipora Lederman, spokesperson for Represent US, about the goal of the national day of action on April 15, she made it clear that her organization intends to win its war on corruption with a unique, non-partisan approach saying,
“April 15 is the day Americans pay taxes to a government that no longer represents them. It is time for us to kick the movement into high gear. Congress will not fix corruption, the people will. We have a plan to go around the federal governmnet and fight corruption from the ground up with a fiercely cross-partisan national campaign. Our plan is already working and we are ready to pass more Anti-Corruption Acts in cities and states around the country in the next 2 years.”
It seems to only make sense that in order for Congress to be fixed we will have to work independently of Congress. This is exactly what Represent Us is doing. The same ballot box polls and word of mouth activism that brought about successful marijuana and same sex marriage reform have been used to show overwhelming support for what the Anti-Corruption Act entails. When the Anti-Corruption Act was signed into law in Tallahassee, FL last November, it passed with a 2-1 margin of victory. According to polls done by Represent Us, 80% of Americans support Anti-Corruption legislation. Although the overwhelming majority of individuals are opposed to having a corrupt government, many people do not understand the extent of corruption’s reach.
A perfect example of this pervasive corruption is when Missiouri Senator Rob Schaaf brought his Anti-Corruption Act to the floor of the Missouri Senate. Eight words were added to one sentence and completely altered the intent of the bill. These 8 words exempted the current Missouri legislators from the Anti-Corruption provisions outlined in the bill, effectively turning the Anti-Corruption Act into a bill that legalizes corruption. Fortunately, Senator Schaaf rejected the amended proposal.
Another great example is the system of inflation based profits used by the Federal Reserve. All US currency is born in a Federal Reserve printing press. All currency spent through the American economy flows back to the Federal Reserve, which then deposits most of it back into the US Treasury. If the Federal Reserve prints more money than it gives the US Treasury, inflation rates rise. Despite its biggest “economic stimulus” package of $1.9 trillion in 2013, it “only” made a return of $79.5 billion. $77 billion of that was sent to the US Treasury. The other $2.5 billion was pure profit for the Federal Reserve. Since the economic collapse of 2008, the Federal Reserve has doubled its yearly revenue, recording its highest profit margins in its 102 year history.
The very foundations of the economic principles governing our society are a corrupt batch of laws designed to produce a system of endless, one-sided profits. This is the system that allows Congress to accept millions of dollars a year from lobbyists and super pacs. A lobbyist representing the interests of a private bank whose CEO has millions of dollars in shares of stock in the Federal Reserve can bribe a Congressman to vote for a bill that allows a larger budget for the Federal Reserve’s next stimulus package. These groups are what allowed the 2012 presidential election to become the most expensive in history with a final fundraising tally of $6 billion. As of right now, this is all completely legal.
Throughout the last few weeks, Represent Us has initiated its 30 day countdown to April 15. During the countdown, several measures have been taken to raise awareness of Represent Us and its motives, as well as provide tools for organized activist publicity. One such stunt was making rubber stamps with the phrase “this bill shall not be used for bribing politicians” printed on them. These are intended to be stamped onto dollar bills and they are available for purchase. You can buy your own stamp here. Represent Us also has a link on their website that allows you to “buy Congress some balls” and send them to the steps of the House of Representatives in Washington DC. You can buy your state’s Congress some balls here.
Represent Us also launched a creative social media campaign to connect the dots of financial corruption across popular news sites using Twitter. Using the tag signature of #Followthemoney, users can tag articles that expose or demonstrate corruption and share them on Twitter. Then, users can leave a comment on the article with links to Represent Us and the Anti-Corruption Act’s websites. The intention is to begin to link corruption under a single identifier and instigate a conversation about it, informing people about Represent Us and the Anti-Corruption Act in the process. Many people realize corruption is a problem. However, many people do not realize the extent of the problem or what they can do to help. This could potentially open a dialogue between concerned citizens separated by geography but united by principles. Readers of the Fifth Column could do this on a daily basis with the many articles that explore the effects of financial and political corruption in America. There are many resources at the disposal of the average citizen that allow him or her to become an avid digital activist. You can learn how to #Followthemoney here.
Financial corruption is probably the only issue that members of every political party, race, gender, sexual orientation, age group, culture or background can agree is a bad thing. Ask 1000 strangers in the street if they would like their government to be corrupt. Unless you are walking through the streets of Washington DC, you will most likely get 999 emphatic answers of, “No!” Everything that can be learned from the patterns of history tells us that something disasterous is waiting for the US in the near future if we do not address the rampant corruption that has turned our elections into little more than televised auctions where voting is just picking your favorite meme. America is a modern empire, boiling over with financial inequality, political hegemony, and civil unrest. Apathy has proven itself to be an epidemic to actively addressing these issues. Represent Us is an invigorating outlet with exceptional tools available to any that choose to be resistant to this epidemic, and that would actively seek to address the political system that governs it, to organize and push back against the ruling-class in a productive, personalized way.