An alternate universe where ‘Occupy’ wins
The headline of the Dec. 21, 2011 article was “Obama’s Bet: Back to Athens?”:
WASHINGTON - After four months of intensifying Occupy Wall Street protests, President Barack Obama proposed the creation of a Citizen Legislature.
In a nationwide televised address on Dec. 20, Obama announced his plan to form a legislature comprised of citizens selected through a lottery system from all 50 states and replace the House of Representatives.
The political reform plan is seen as a concession to angry public sentiment, with Obama stating that the crisis facing America was a crisis of democracy.
Obama said the origin of the crisis was the lack of public representation in Congress, criticizing that Congress has become a “do-nothing” legislature because of party interests when it should be correcting Wall Street greed.
In describing his plans for the Citizen Legislature, the president said that scientific advancements allowed the government to make a sample size that precisely represented the nation’s voters, creating a “miniature America” of 500 citizens from all walks of life and proportional representation of gender, race, age, region, occupation, income, political tendency and religion.
Obama pointed to Athens in Ancient Greece, which had a blooming democracy, and the jury system, in which random selection has been successful in the justice system. He claimed that the concept of politics run by the elites was an illusion that had now been proven false.
Occupy Wall Street protestors who hailed the president’s proposal called Obama the “Solon of America.” Lawmakers, however, said the proposal was unconstitutional. A Republican congressman, who requested anonymity, said the president should blame his lack of political leadership before criticizing Congress, adding that Obama wanted to start a revolution by using the protestors as the Red Guards.
Protestors have been demanding political reforms to end factionalism and plutocracy and address inequality. In the House today, 80 percent of the seats are currently occupied by wealthy white men and 40 percent are attorneys. The financial industry has given more than $5 billion in political donations in the last decade.
I dozed off while reading “A Citizen Legislature” by activists Ernest Callenbach and Michael Phillips. I am not sure if it was me or the writers who had the vision.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Bae Myung-bok
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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