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DC Conference: Strategies for Liberals and Progressives for the Obama Years  Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 

Creating "The Caring Society": A Progressive Alternative to Tea Party Extremism and Corporate Domination of American Politics and Culture

Be on the GROUND FLOOR of developing A STRATEGY FOR PROGRESSIVES in the Obama Years

Support Obama to BE the Obama Americans Thought They Were Voting For & Resist the Corporate Takeover of America:
A Unique Strategy Conference Bringing together Religious and Spiritual Progressives with Secular Liberals and Progressives in the Age of Obama to explore strategies appropriate for the complexities of a period in which the failures of the Democrats to present a coherent progressive vision and program has created the space for the rise of a quasi-fascist and racist movement on the Right that threatens to move all of American political discourse in violent and destructive ways, and simultaneously to strengthen corporate dominance. We will address strategy both in response to the immediate crisis of 2010, and also in regard to building a long-term vision of the economic, spiritual, and ethical dimensions of a democratic society that could re-inspire people to fight for fundamental changes and societal transformation beyond the limits of "inside-the-beltway pragmatism" and "being realistic" in terms set by the corporate media. 

D.C. June 11-13  (and demonstration at the White House June 13)

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  • Countering "Tea Party" extremism and corporate dominance with a coherent and attractive alternative that addresses the pain people are feeling in American society today
  • Explore the new vision for liberal and progressive politics: The Caring Society
  • Constitutional Amendments to Restrain Corporate Power and Require Corporate Environmental & Social Responsibility
  • Move politics beyond the "Inside-the-Beltway realism and pragmatism" that has undermined hope for real change
  • The Global Marshall Plan--and the primacy of ending Poverty and Economic Despair in the US and around the world
  • Middle East Peace
  • Other Strategies for the Obama years ahead

Below you will find:

1. Speakers  2. Description of our Goals  3. Agenda for the conference  4. Tentative version of the Enviornmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

 

Registration

Click here to register for the Washington DC June 11-13 conference now! Or go to: 

https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/525/t/8751/l/eng/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=55261

 

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Speakers, Presenters and Workshop Leaders include:

Congressmen Keith Ellison and Dennis Kucinich, Rev. Brian McLaren,  Sister Joan Chittister,Bill McKibben, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Sharon Welch, Peter Gabel,  Rev. James Winkler, Heather Booth, Rev. Conrad Braaten, John Dear S.J., Rev. Graylan Hagler, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, David Korten, Jonathan Granoff, Robert Thurman, Marianne Williamson, Jeremy Ben Ami, Paul Wapner,  Svi Shapiro, Josh Weiner, Bob McChesney, John Nichols, Sheri Shapiro,  Medea Benjamin, Rev. James Forbes, Lester Brown, Bill Moyer, John Cavanagh, Rob Weissman, Drew Dellinger, Nanette Schorr, Kim Wright, Cheryl Conner, Rebecca Subar, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Gershon Baskin, Emma's Revolution, Rabbi David Schneyer, and more

Not all speakers agree with every part of our reasons for doing this conference or our proposals--all they agree about for sure is that this conversation is an important one that rarely takes place in a way that YOU can participate!

If you already know you wish to register, you can bypass all this info about the actual schedules and the goals of the conferences, and simply click the links below to register right now (though we do recommend that you read this page fully before doing so).

And  the D.C. event has limited capacity, so it makes sense to register now rather than wait. The San Francisco conference sold out in advance, and that may be true of the D.C. conference which has even less space--so register soon!Click Here to Register for the Washington D.C. Conference (or copy and paste the link below into your browser):

https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/525/t/8751/l/eng/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=55261

 

TIKKUN/Network of Spiritual Progressives 2010 CONFERENCES

Co-Sponsored by:

The Nation Magazine, Yes! Magazine, Peace Action, Progressive Democrats of America, Common Cause, Interfaith Alliance,   Pace e Bene, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Code Pink, The Institute for Policy Studies, The Shalom Center, Democracy Matters, OpEdNews, The Backbone Campaign, United Religions Initiative, the Washington Peace Center,  and 350.org

June 11-13, 2010  Washington DC

Church of the Reformation
212 E. Capitol St. NE
Washington, DC 20003

 

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Foci of the conference: 

1. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS:

A. CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PERSONS AND SHOULD NOT HAVE SAME RIGHTS AS PERSONS 

B. ENVIRONMENTAL & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AMENDMENT 

 C. GLOBAL MARSHALL PLAN AS A WAY TO END THE WAR ON TERROR AND REPLACE IT WITH A STRATEGY OF GENEROSITY

We will focus on developing positive ideas and programs for an economy and society that more fully embodies your highest values, as well as concrete ideas for what we could do for global (including Middle East) peace and reconciliation, and ideas about how to put single payer health care back into the national conversation to amend whatever faulty proposal has been passed by Congress. We will present  a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT that would declare that corporations are not persons and do not deserve the protections of persons, restrict their ability to influence elections and legislation either directly or indirectly, and that would require corporations and other "limited liability economic entities" to adhere to strictly defined standards of social and environmental responsibility or lose their rights to function or do business in the US (whether or not they are based in the U.S.). 

2. "Support Obama to BE the Obama We Voted For -Not the Inside-the-Beltway Pragmatist/Realist whose compromises have led to a decrease in his popularity and opened the door for a revival of the just-recently-discredited Right wing." This is the most effective way to stop the rise of potentially fascistic right-wing movements and religious fundamentalists who unwittingly serve the interests of America's elites of wealth and power. Those elites, in turn, have allowed their own selfishness, materialism and cynicism about the possibility of a different kind of world lead them to rob America blind, in the process throwing millions out of work or even out of their homes. 

We need to be both supportive and  critical of this administration—about the escalation of war in Afghanistan; its flawed health care plan; its capitulation on human rights and gay and lesbian rights; and its dumping hundreds of billions into the coffers of the banks and insurance and pharmaceutical companies while doing way too little for the poor, the powerless, and those suffering from the current economic meltdown.

We understand that Obama faces a Washington, D.C., reality that is heavily shaped by Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, and the elites of wealth and power that control most of the media
. But the 2008 election campaign demonstrated a potentially powerful counter-force: the yearning of Americans for genuine connection to each other and for a society that embodied higher values of caring, generosity, peace, and an attitude of idealism toward the world. It was this force that could have provided a serious and "realistic" counter to the powers that be, particularly at the moment when the country was at the height of an economic meltdown and Wall Street was begging for the government to bail it out. The policies adopted by the Obama Administration had the opposite effect--it demobilized its own base while seeming to appeal to its right-wing and to show how reasonable and accommodating to the very policies and forces that the Obama campaign had promised to challenge.


One year later, many people are confused, demoralized, or even deeply depressed that Obama did not energize the latent idealism of Americans he touched in 2008 to create a different political discourse in this country that would have empowered him and millions of Americans to remain active and fight for “change we can believe in.” Doubting that he could count on the very forces that had elected him, he turned to the "realistic" insider politics of Washington and Wall Street, with huge subsidies to the banks and capitulations to the health care profiteers and pharmaceuticals, thus making it possible for the Right-wing to present itself as a quasi-populist voice in contrast to his seeming subservience to the elites of power and wealth. What could he do? He could have told the truth about the power relations as he saw them, as he had promised he would when he was on the campaign trail. True, the opposition might have been even more outraged. But telling the truth is the one power that the President has which does not depend on the support of a legislative majority, and would have been more important than passing pieces of legislation that are so severely compromised that they may have been worse than nothing at all.

We learned during the Clinton years, even the good things done by one president can quickly be overturned by the next unless the President builds a strong and ongoing concensus around a shared world view. More important than winning any particular legislative battle (because any legislation can always be undone by the next administration), the empowering of a progressive, populist, ethically-based, love-and- generosity oriented social movement would have isolated the Right and given Obama the kind of popular support that would have actually made him stronger in dealing with the Blue Dog Democrats and hence more likely to be legislatively effective.

We recognize that many who worked hard for Obama are now depressed and moving toward passivity or cynicism. But it is not too late to change the dynamics before the deep disenchantment with Obama’s failure to build on the hopeful energies his election reflected becomes the new political reality.

We are not coming to D.C. to beg for a few crumbs from the table of corporate-oriented Democrats. We represent the vast majority of those who supported Obama and who are now recognizing that we need to stop looking at Obama as a savior and instead build a powerful independent movement. So when we go to the White House on Sunday, June 13, to demonstrate our concern about Obama's policies, we do so neither to beg or to be shrill, but to manifest publicly our righteous indignation at policies that have not followed through on the path that Obama led us to believe he would follow. Nor will we give support to the Right-wing Tea Party people--we are not here to weaken but to strengthen this Administration by getting it to serve the interests of the vast majority of Americans whose interests have too often been ignored by the powerful in both major political parties. 

 

3.  We will develop our inner resources both intellectual and spiritual for the long-process of building fundamental transformation in our global and domestic policies so that we can save the planet and ourselves from the various lurking environmental, military, economic and political disasters we face. We will also strengthen our capacities to recognize and rejoice at all the goodness and love that is available to us and that can sustain us and make the process of Tikkun-ing (healing and transforming the world) a joyous and nourishing experience.

Our conference is sponsored by Tikkun Magazine, the voice of Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Bahai, and other spiritual progressives (and our educational outreach arm: the Network of Spiritual Progressives). You DO NOT have to be religious or believe in God to be a "spiritual progressive." We welcome people not only from every religious community but also those who are "spiritual but not religious," including some who are militant atheists or agnostics. Our criterion: do you agree with our New Bottom Line for Western societies.

Our New Bottom Line urges people to judge institutions, corporations, legislation, social practices, health care, our educational and legal systems, and our social policies (as well as our personal behavior)  by how much love and compassion, kindness and generosity, and ethical and ecological sensitivity they inculcate within is, and by how much they nurture our capacity to respond to other human beings as embodiments of the sacred who can and do respond to the universe with gratitude, awe, and wonder at the grandeur of all that is. If you are supportive of our New Bottom Line, you are a spiritual progressive. Please read how this plays out in political policy terms by going to www.spiritualprogressives.org and reading out Spiritual Covenant with America and the details of our Global Marshall Plan. You'll understand why many agnostics and atheists feel excited about our approach to healing and transforming American society as we seek to challenge the globalization of selfishness, materialism and corporate power.

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Registration

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Conference Schedule (As of 5.26.10)

 

NSP Strategy Development Conference  June 11-13 Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Washington DC

(Meetings with Congress originally scheduled for Monday June 14 have been cancelled.)

 

Friday, June 11

 

8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Registration

 

9 a.m. Welcome from Rev. Conrad Braaten, Rev. Graylan Hagler, Rev. Ama Zenya and Congressman Dennis Kucinich  Music: Emma's Revolution and also Rabbi David Schneyer

 

Prayers and music from a variety of religious communities

 

9:45 a.m. Sister Joan Chittister on Repairing America's Spiritual Crisis

 

10:30 a.m. Congressman Keith Ellison

 

11:00 a.m.   Rabbi Michael Lerner: The 2010 State of the Spirit Address : Where we are as a society and a planet in healing, repairing, transforming the world. And the strategy for the Obama Years ahead. 

 

Noon: Small group discussions

 

12:30 to 1:30 p.m. break for lunch

 

1:30 p.m.  Q&A with Rabbi Michael Lerner, Peter Gabel  and Sister Joan Chittister

 

2:30  Workshop Panels

 

1. Rev. Graylan Hagler:  The Legacy of Racism and How It Continues in Obama's America: including racially charged and non-racially charged ways of critiquing President Obama plus other hot-button issues around race.

 

2. Lester B. Brown & Paul Wapner: The Environmental Crisis: Living Through the Death of Nature from Offshore Drilling to Global Warming to Destruction of our Air, Land and Water   

 

3. Nanette Schorr, Peter Gabel, NSP Legal Practice Group:  Empathy, the Supreme Court, and "the Rule of Law:" Going Beyond an Individualistic Legal System. The Senate Confirmation hearing of Sonia Sotomayor were introduced the possibility that "empathy" might be a central value of our legal system, with Republicans denouncing the notion that caring for others could have anything to do with a Supreme Court Justice's decision-making. Yet a new conception of justice is essential if we are to bring about a Caring Society, one that recognizes that we do not exist as radically separate individuals, but are irrevocably connected and aspire to a world that fosters and affirms this connection. With Justice Sotomayor now on the Court, and with Elena Kagan, another woman of the same new generation, potentially ready to join her, a new vision of legal justice and "the rule of law" may be emerging if we as a movement can help to articulate and defend it.

 

4. Medea Benjamin & Sharon Welch: America's endless wars: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, North Korea, and what's next?

 

5. Rabbi Arik Aschermann Healing Israel/Palestine

 

6. Barbara Baylor: Reforming Health Care Reform  An Approach to Health Care Based on Actual Caring About Each Other's Health    For all its limitations in failing to include a public option and a truly universal approach to health care, the new health care legislation passed by Congress may have the positive effect of leading all Americans to believe that we are not supposed to be "on our own" when it comes to health and illness, that we have a right to be supported and cared for however imperfectly that right will initially be realized.  This panel will present the next steps, envisioning how doctors and patients--that means all of us--can envision a truly caring health care system that is not just about "insurance" but is actually about our physical and mental well-being as a community of caring people. 

 

7. Shaul Magid

 

8.  Immigration

 

 

5 p.m. Regional Small Group Meetings

 

5 p.m.  Simultaneous with small groups: Muslim Prayer session

 

6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  break for dinner

 

8 p.m. to 11 p.m.  Evening plenary: John Dear S.J., Sharon Welch  Rev,  James Forbes, and Gary Dorrien plus musicians and spoken word by Drew Dellinger

 

9 p.m. Shabbat Celebration simultaneous with latter part of evening plenary

 

 

Saturday, June 12

 

 9 a.m. Welcome and announcements

 

Morning Plenary on Positive Economic Alternatives

 

9:15 to 10:15 David Korten

 

10:15 to 11:45  Workshops:

 

1. John Canavagh, Heather Booth, Gar Alperovitz, and Noel Ortega: Economic Working Group to explore issues raised by David Korten

 

2. David Loy: 'Healing Ecology: a Buddhist perspective on the eco-crisis' explores the profound parallels between our individual predicament, according to Buddhism, and our collective species predicament in relation to the rest of the planet.

 

3. Cheryl Conner: Transforming the Practice of Medicine

 

4. Bruce Novak: Transforming our Educational System: What the Obama Administration Should and still Could Do

 

5. Robert McChesney and John Nichols: Transforming the media

 

6. Nanette Schorr, Doug Ammar, Kim Wright: Transforming the Practice of Law

 

7.  Simultaneous with workshops: Shabbat Service and Torah Study

 

Noon-Small group meetings

 

12:30-1:30  break for Lunch

 

Afternoon Plenary: Positive Alternatives

 

1:30 to 2:00 Joan Chittister on A Christian Perspective on Why We Need An Interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives

 

2:00-3:00  Peter Gabel: Keynote: on Non-Alienated Human Relationships

 

3:00-3:30  Plenary on Strategic Directions:  Thinking Beyond Capitalism and Socialism

            3:00-3:05  Introduction by Rabbi Lerner

            3:05-3:15  small group discussions (2-3 people sitting near you) of the GMP, the ESRA and your own thinking on strategic directions

            3:15-3:30  Large group discussion of strategy: your feedback welcomed (but limited to one minute per person)

 

3:30-5:00 3 mini plenaries:

 

1. Continuation with Peter Gabel and Michael Lerner on the strategies for Spiritual Progressives  Your chance to participate in the discussion of strategy

2. Economic Transformation of American Society: New Directions  David Korten  

3. Diversity in the Progressive movement: Including a focus on racism, the prison-industrial complex, poverty, oppression of minorities, and how to talk about these issues in a way that escapes the blaming game that so often divides rather than strengthens the progressive world.  Rev. Graylan Hagler and Rev. Ama Zenya

 

5:00  Poetry Reading

 

6:00  Small Group meetings

 

6:30 to 7:30 break for Dinner

 

7:30  p.m.  Evening Plenary Sessions: 

 

Bill McKibben on Environment

 

Jeremy Ben-Ami on Israel/Palestine

 

Ama Zenya on Building an Alternative Universe for Social Change

 

Jonathan Granoff on Disarmament

 

Sunday, June 13

 

9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Christian Worship Services  (and we are invited to the Lutheran Church of the Reformation service from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.)

 

11-1:30 Rally at the White House: Send a message to President Obama: BE THE OBAMA WE VOTED FOR & Join the Campaign to Resist the Corporate Takeover of America

 

Bill McKibben, Medea Benjamin, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Margaret Flowers, Rev. Graylan Hagler,  Peter Gabel, John Dear SJ, Rev. Brian McLaren, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Rev. Ama Zenya, Lester R. Brown

 

2 p.m. Afternoon Plenary

 

Spiritual Visions for Social Healing

 

Rev. Brian McLaren and Robert Thurman

3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.  Workshops

 

1) Rabbi Michael Lerner: Constitutional Amendments on Limiting Corporate Power ESRA

 

2) Rev. Ama Zenya: Building Spiritual Progressive Activities in Your Home Region

 

3) Peter Gabel: The Global Marshall Plan

 

4) Arthur Waskow, Rebecca Subar,  and Gershon Baskin: Healing Israel/Palestine: Are Boycotts, Disinvestment and Sanctions the Best Way?

 

6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  break for dinner

 

7:30 p.m.  Celebration of Spiritual and Religious Diversity

 

8 p.m. Marianne Williamson and Arthur Waskow The Body Politic, Disembodied Corporations, and the Body of the Earth

 

Conference presenters and affiliations

 

Bill McKibben (The End of Nature)

Sister Joan Chittister (Welcome to the Wisdom of the World & The Gift of Years)

Rev. Brian McLaren (A New Kind of Christianity & Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crisis, and a Revolution of Hope)

Medea Benjamin (Code Pink)

Rev. Noemi Parrilla-Mena (Pastor of Hispanic Ministries to the National City Christian Church Disciples of Christ)

Robert McChesney (The Political Economy of Media)

Marianne Williamson (Healing the Soul of America, A Return to Love, The Gift of Change)

Rev. James A. Forbes (Pastor emeritus of The Riverside Church, director of Healing of the Nations Foundation)

Margaret Flowers MD (Physicians for a National Health Program)

Robert Thurman (Inner Revolution & The Jewel Tree of Tibet: The Enlightenment Engine of Tibetan Buddhism)

Riane Eisler (The Chalice and the Blade & The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics)

Gary Dorrien (Reinhold Neiburh Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Professor of Religion at Columbia U, The Making of American Liberal Theology)

John Dear S.J. (activist Jesuit priest, A Persistent Peace & Put Down Your Sword)

Rev. Jim Winkler (General Secretary of the General Board of Church & Society of the United Methodists of America)

Jonathan Granoff (President of the Global Security Institute, and a Senior Advisor of the American Bar Association's Committee on Arms Control and National Security)

Sharon Welch (provost of Meadville Lombard Theological School, A Feminist Ethic of Risk & Real Peace, Real Security: The Challenges of Global Citizenship)

Rev. Graylan Hagler (Senior Minister of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ)

Jeremy Ben-Ami (President, J Street)

Bill Moyer (Chair, The Backbone Campaign)

Svi Shapiro (Education and Hope in Troubled Times: Visions of Change for our Children's World & Losing Heart: The Moral and Spiritual Miseducation of America's Children)

David Loy (Money, Sex, War, Karma: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution & The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory)

Rabbi Arthur Waskow (chair, The Shalom Center, Godwrestling & Down-to-Earth Judaism: Food, Money, Sex, and the Rest of Life)

Peter Gabel (Associate Editor, Tikkun Magazine, a founder of Critical Legal Studies, The Bank Teller and Other Essays on the Politics of Meaning)

Rabbi Michael Lerner (Editor, Tikkun Magazine ,The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right, The Politics of Meaning, Jewish Renewal & Healing Israel/Palestine)

Paul Wapner (Director, Global Environmental Politics Program, American University, Living Through the End of Nature: The Future of American Environmentalism)

David Korten (When Corporations Rule the World, Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth & The Great Turning)

Sherry Shapiro (Professor of dance and director of Women's Studies at Meredith College, Raleigh North Carolina, Pedagogy and the Politics of the Body: A Critical PRAXIS)

 John Nichols (edits The Beat blog column for The Nation)

Shaul Magid (Professor of Jewish Studies and Religious Studies, Indiana University & author, Hasidism on the Margin)

John Cavanagh (director, The Institute for Policy Studies)

Josh Weiner (poetry editor of Tikkun magazine, and author of The World's Room (2001) and From the Book of Giants (2006)

Nanette Schorr (lawyer and Tikkun author)

 

Registration

 or go to: https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/525/t/8751/l/eng/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=55261

Responding to the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision

Constitutional Amendments to preserve democracy & require corporate environmental responsibility

mail Article To a Friend iew Printable Version 

So here is the strategy: we will be working on 2 amendments to the constitution, one narrowly constructed to address overturning the recent Supreme court decision and the other a broader amendment that is aimed at educating the public about the need for corporate Environmental and Social Responsibility (hence the ESRA) and this second one will not pass but will be a way of articulating some parts of our vision for a society that could actually survive the 21st century.

 

Responding to the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision

It was generally agreed at the Feb. Tikkun/Network of Spiritual Progressives’  conference in San Francisco that NSP should endorse any legislative approaches that could be taken to offset the destructive impact of the Supreme Court's decision to consider corporations to be "persons" and hence protected by the 14th Amendment, and to consider spending of money in elections to be "speech" that would then be protected under the First Amendment. Reversing this decision is a high priority for all who wish to build a society based on spiritual principles of caring and generosity, since corporations necessarily have a different “bottom line” requiring them to maximize financial returns for their investors.  It was also understood that any legislation passed by Congress would likely have only short-term advantages,  because the Supreme Court might well block any such legislation as unconstitutional for the same reason that it has now struck down other attempts to restrain corporate power in the electoral arena provided by the McCain-Feingold legislation. 

 

There was considerable sentiment at the SF conference that a short and narrowly constructed amendment to the Constitution might have more chance of passage, and hence that the NSP should join with other national organizations in the effort to get such an amendment passed.

 

There was also widespread excitement about the idea of using this historical moment to bring into national discourse the notion that democracy-loving Americans need more severe constraints on corporate power which had reached toxic levels even before the Supreme Court’s unfortunate “Citizen’s United” decision. S  we have concluded that we need a three part strategy: a. endorse legislation to overturn Citizen’s United decision of the Supreme Court  b. support whatever campaign develops for a short and narrowly constructed Amendment to the Constitution that would permanently overturn the notion that corporations should have the same rights in the electoral arena that American citizens have; and c. construct and launch a public education campaign for a much broader Amendment which would include b. but would also specify and require other elements of corporate ethical and environmental social responsibility.

 

The versions below are meant to be suggestive of different levels of inclusiveness, not final formulations which will be drafted by constitutional lawyers. But we want to get your feedback on the ideas of how much we should cover in this second broader Amendment, remembering that we will ALSO support a narrower and more likely to be accepted version. The point of the broader version is to bring a conception of corporate social responsibility into the public discourse—the goal is to change people’s conceptions of what politics could be addressing and to encourage a conception of environmental and ethical responsibility and democratic control of the economy that at this moment is far beyond what is accepted in public discourse as “realistic.” Just as the ERA never passed, but had a huge impact in changing people’s understanding of the need for equality for women, so the ESRA could have that same impact. So while we want your suggestions about how to refine one or more of these proposed versions, we do not need to be told that they are “unrealistic,” because precisely the point of this second versions of an  Amendment in our 2 part strategy is to transform the consciousness of what is or is not realistic.

 We will continue this discussion at the June 11-13 conference in D.C., and then will try to combine the responses from both the Feb. and June conference, and  come up with a strategy that is informed by your feedback.

The Edwards/Conyers version below is an example of the “short” and more “realistic” version. It will be part one of our two part strategy.

 

 

Congressperson Edwards and Conyers Amendment version one

 

`Section 1. The sovereign right of the people to govern being essential to a free democracy, Congress and the States may regulate the expenditure of funds for political speech by any corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity.

`Section 2. Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.'.

 

The Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (ESRA)

The Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

         (as proposed by Rabbi Michael Lerner and Peter Gabel and advanced through the work of The Network of Spiritual Progressives)

 

 


ESRA: The Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution 

 Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version  This is the current draft as of May 15, 2010. Final version will be determined after incorporating the suggestions we get at the June 11-13 strategy conference in Washington D.C. (info and registration at www.spiritualprogressives.org/conference

 

 

The intent of the framers of this Amendment is to:

a.    Protect the planet and its inhabitants from environmentally destructive behavior and economic arrangements, and to increase environmental responsibility on the part of all corporations and government bodies.

b.   Increase U.S. citizens’ democratic control over American economic and political institutions and ensure that all people, regardless of income, have the same electoral clout and power to shape policies and programs.

c.    Promote the well-being of citizens of the United States by recognizing that our well-being depends on the well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants, which in turn requires an end to poverty, wars, and violence, and the rise of a new global ethic of genuine caring and interdependence.

 

 

Article One: The Pro-Democracy Clause

 

A. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution shall apply only to human beings, and not corporations, limited liability associations, and other artificial entities created by the laws of the United States.

 

B.  Money or other currency shall not be considered a form of speech within the meaning of the First Amendment to the Constitution, and its expenditure is subject to regulation by the Congress and by the legislatures of the several States.

 

 

C.  Congress shall regulate the amount of money used to disseminate ideas or shape public opinion in any federal election in order to assure that all major points of view regarding issues and candidates receive equal exposure to the greatest extent possible. Congress shall fund all major candidates for the House, Senate and Presidency in all major elections by establishing a fee of not less than $5 per citizen per year, adjusted annually for inflation, to be paid from income taxes on all those with incomes above the poverty level as determined by the Department of Labor.

 

 

D.  In the three months prior to any election for a federal position, all media or any other means of mass communication reaching more than 300,000 people shall provide equal time to all major presidential candidates to present their views for at least an hour at least once a week, and equal time once every two weeks for congressional candidates during that media agency’s prime time. The candidates shall determine the form and content of that communication. During the three months prior to an election, no candidate, no political party, and no organization seeking to influence public policy may buy time in any media or form of mass communication or any other form of mass advertising including on the Internet.  Major candidates shall be defined as:

a.    those who have at least 5% of support as judged by an independent polling firm 3 months before any given election,

b.   or any candidate who can collect the signatures of 5% of the number of people who voted in the election for that office the last time that office was contested in an election. These petitions can only be signed by people eligible to vote in the relevant electoral districts. Every state shall be instructed to develop similar provisions aimed at allowing candidates for the governor and state legislatures to be freed from their dependence on wealthy donors.

 

Article Two: Corporate Environmental and Social Responsibility

 

A.  Every citizen of the United States and every organization chartered by the U.S. or any of its several states, shall have a responsibility to  promote the ethical, environmental, and social well-being of all life on the planet Earth. This being so, corporations chartered by the Congress and by the several States shall demonstrate the ethical, environmental, and social impact of their proposed activities at the time they seek permission to operate.  In addition, any corporation with gross receipts of in excess of $100 million shall obtain a new corporate charter every five years, and this charter shall be granted only if the corporation can prove a satisfactory history of environmental, social, and ethical responsibility to a grand jury of ordinary citizens.

 

Factors to be considered by the grand jury in determining whether a corporation shall include but not be limited to:

1.   The degree to which the products produced or services provided are beneficial rather than destructive to the planet and its oceans, forests, water supplies, soils and air, and the degree to which its decisions help ensure that the resources of Earth are available to future generations.

2.   The degree to which it pays a living wage to all and arranges its pay scale such that none of its employees or contractors earn more than ten times the wages of its lowest full-time wage earners; the degree to which it provides equal benefits including health care, child care, retirement pensions, sick pay, and vacation time to all employees; and the degree to which its employees enjoy satisfactory safety and health conditions.

3.    The degree to which it supports the needs of the communities in which it operates and in which its employees live, including the degree to which it resists the temptation to move assets or jobs to other locations where it can pay workers less or provide weaker environmental and worker protections.

4.    The degree to which it encourages significant democratic participation by all its employees in corporate decision making; the degree to which it discloses to its employees its economic situation, the factors shaping its past decisions, and its attempts to influence public discourse; and the degree to which it follows democratic procedures internally, including but not limited to the right of employees to elect and recall their supervisors

5.    The degree to which it treats its employees, its customers, and the people and communities in which it operates with adequate respect and genuine caring for their well-being, and rewards its employees to the extent that they engage in behavior that manifest genuine caring, respect, kindness, generosity, and ethical and environmentally sensitive practices.

6.    The degree to which its investment decisions enhance and promote the economic, social, and ethical welfare of the communities in which its products may be produced, sold, or advertised.

 

 

 

If the grand jury is not satisfied with the level of environmental, social, and ethical responsibility, it may put the corporation on probation and prescribe specific changes needed. If after three more years the jury is not satisfied that those changes have been adequately implemented, the jury may assign control of the board and officers of the corporation to non-management employees of the corporation and/or to its public stakeholders and/or to another group of corporate directors and managers who seem most likely to successfully implement the changes required by the jury.

 

 

 

B.  Any government office or project receiving government funds that seeks to engage in a contract (with any other corporation or limited liability entity) involving the expenditure of over $100,000 (adjusted annually for inflation) shall require that those who apply to fulfill that contract submit an Environmental and Social Responsibility Impact Report to assess the applicant’s corporate behavior in regard to the factors listed above in point A of Article II. Community stakeholders and non-supervisory employees may also submit their own assessment by filling out the Environment and Social Responsibility Impact Report. Contracts shall be rewarded to the applicant with the best record of environmental and social responsibility that can also satisfactorily fulfill the other terms of the contract.

 

 

Article Three: The Positive Requirement to Enhance Human Community and Environmental Sustainability

 

A. Earth being the natural and sacred home of all its peoples, Congress shall develop legislation to enhance the environmental sustainability of human communities  and the planet Earth, and shall present a report annually to the American people on progress made during the previous year in ameliorating any conditions deemed by an independent group of scientists to be adverse to the planet’s long-term environmental welfare. The objectives of such legislation shall include but not be limited to alleviating global warming, reducing all forms of pollution, restoring the ecological balance of the oceans, and assuring the well-being of all forests and animal life. The President of the United States shall have the obligation to enforce such legislation and to develop executive policies to assure the carrying out of its objectives.

 

 

B.

                  In order to prepare the people of the United States to live as environmentally and socially responsible citizens of the world, and to recognize that our own well being as citizens of the United States depend upon the well being of everyone else on Earth and the well being of this planet itself, every educational institution receiving federal funds whether directly or through the several states, shall provide education in reading, writing and basic arithmetic, and  appropriate instruction including at least one required course per year per grade level from kindergarten through 12th grade, to all of its students in:

 

1. the skills and capacities necessary to develop a caring society manifesting love, generosity, kindness, joy, celebration thanksgiving, and humility, non-violence, rational and scientific thinking, and religion, ethical and ecological sensitivity,  appreciation of humanity’s rich multicultural heritage expressed in literature, art, music, philosophy, and history, the cultivation and preparation of food, the range of approaches to health and healing, and the capacity to experience awe, wonder and radical amazement at the grandeur and mystery of the universe and the potential for the growth of human consciousness; and

 

2. the appropriate scientific, ethical, and behavioral knowledge and skills required to assure the long term environmental sustainability of the planet Earth, and to do so in ways that enhance the well being of everyone on the planet, and our human capacities to live in harmony with animals and with nature and to repair the damage done to Earth and other parts of the universe by previous human interactions that were not adequately sensitive to environmental issues; and to guarantee that Earth is not further damaged by military activities and that the rest of the universe to which we humans have access is barred from militarization by the human race;  and 

 

 

 3.   The measurement of student progress in the areas covered by sections and 1 and 2 being,  like artistic and musical skills,   difficult or impossible to measure by quantitative criteria, educational institutions affected by this article shall develop subtle and appropriate qualitative ways of evaluating adequate progress on the part of students in the areas specified, ways that contribute to and not detract from   students’ ability to love learning and to enhance their capacities to cooperate rather than compete with their fellow students in the process of intellectual and emotional  growth. 


 
 
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