Special Interest Democracy

Today is December 30, 2012. I just finished watching the President of the United  States on “Meet the Press”. He explained that political capital is required to do anything  in Washington.  I wonder if  that’s how Democracy is supposed to look.

I listened as he spoke about immigration reform but said  nothing about JOBS.  I have been  involved in organizing the unemployed for 4 years now.  A group called the 99ers has traveled to Washington to lobby for a voice in policy, held rallies and attempted  to network with other organizations. These causes sought to add volume to their  collective voice toward an agenda that didn’t contribute to our goal of  establishing a sufficient number of good-paying jobs. Because they refused to  participate in our functions, we refrained from collaboration on any effort that  diverted attention from the creation of jobs and support for 99ers.It’s time to  reveal stories and expose special interest groups that are agenda driven and  will use ANYONE who lends political clout.

In the “Meet the Press” interview, Barack Obama blamed  Democrats and Republicans for failure to address public interests lacking  political capital.  The reason for a  protracted employment crisis and zero policy intervention is American’s don’t  care. No well funded and recognized organization is vested in pushing an agenda  to support 99ers.

Below, I discuss some of the instances where we attempted  to network with special interest groups for the REAL  people of America to be heard and reveal behind-the-scenes  truth.

AFL-CIO  and Mr. Richard Trumpka:

99er members approached AFL-CIO  in 2010; before Wisconsin and union worker layoffs.  We warned unions that the war on workers  was headed their way after it wiped us out.  On many conference calls, we discussed  how the two groups could work with Working America for a unified message. We  asked that they send an email announcement to their members about our  rallies.

We didn’t ask for money or use of their lobbyist.  We wanted them to facilitate  communication to their members about a shared concern. They said “If you spend  time volunteering to make phone calls and grow our data base, we will see what can be done“.  Although they wouldn’t guarantee  anything, they wanted us to trust they would send an email in exchange for hours  of our time. Because we have no income or other resources, we need to ensure  mutual benefit for any time invested in other causes.

The AFL_CIO  explained that unless we organized the unemployed to develop their data base,  “It’s not our problem”. With the noncommittal stance taken, we didn’t volunteer  to gather an unpaid marketing team.   After heated discussions on weekly conference calls, interests of union  organizers seeking employment outweighed the need of the collective.

During 2010 election campaigns, union pages disguised as  helping the unemployed advertised to create political capital for the Democratic  Party.  TV personalities like Glenn  Beck slammed 99ers by saying they were un-American and doing bidding for  unions.  In retrospect, he had a  point. However he never asked 99ers for their perspective of what was  happening.  Was he wrong? YES. Was  it a desire of unions? YES.  No one  knew about back stories behind the public eye.

Shortly after the idea of networking with unions broke  down, Occupy Wall Street emerged.  If you watched Fox News, you would think only the unemployed were  rallying in these camps.  It is no  surprise Fox would propagate that misconception because Occupy’s motto was “99%”. 99ers didn’t appreciate our branding being hijacked for a purpose that  had little to do with us.

No one questioned the 2010 campaign about 98% vs. 2%. At  that time, Occupy appeared to be more geared toward college students and union  members than the unemployed. There was no national rally for employment in  general, but plenty of union support for benefits and union jobs. But the  unemployed got more bad press after being called lazy and addicted to  drugs.

Unemployed people were now portrayed as hippies and trouble  makers.  No one paid attention to  the fact NOT ONE  RALLY to fight for jobs ever came out of Occupy.  99ers were lumped in with 99% and had no  representation.  It’s amazing that  Occupy was well funded when 99ers couldn’t get enough funding to travel to WashingtonDC.

In 2012, every unemployed chat room and social media site  was bombarded with political requests from unions to support them on the street  support to escalate their numbers. Many unemployed still receiving compensation  complied with these tactics because many were union members.  They might have felt it was the best  chance to get back to work. But benefits expire and unemployed union workers can  no longer afford to pay union dues.

What benefit will unions provide then?  The only support remaining is a small  unfunded group called the 99ers – regular people who wanted a voice during a  time that voice was desperately needed.

MoveOn.comVan Jones

A grass root movement called “Re-Build the Dream” was  suddenly pushed by a group called MoveOn. Since many 99ers felt their dream was  gone, we immediately looked into this idea and thought maybe this group has  something we can finally support. I personally participated.

I traveled to New York City and worked on a video to be aired opening night.  I would tell part of my story as well as  another 99er, one business owner and a teacher.  On the day of recording, the only other  person being filmed was the other 99er.

We traveled to New York City for opening night where Van Jones was speaker.  I picked up my ticket and learned I was  the only cast member who wasn’t given a ticket to the after party.  I thought it was odd but didn’t really  care.

I sat in the VIP  section and watched as Van Jones introduced “Re-Build the Dream”.  I immediately became uneasy as he spoke  about rebuilding the dream for America when it didn’t include Americans like me.  It was about UNIONS.  I was furious.  Again, something I thought was meant to  help EVERYONE turned into an agenda about a special interest group.

Afterwards, I went back to the hotel and gave my review to  the 99ers on Facebook.  The next day  I traveled back and within 5 minutes returning home, contacted Van Jones.  During filming I expressed how happy I  was to finally have groups working together for everyone.  I explained that I don’t want this to  turn into supporting only one group.  I was assured “Re-Build the Dream” was about helping everyone.  I took a leap of faith then realized  that is NOT what happened.

They used our emotionally packed stories to push a union  agenda and didn’t mention us once.  So again, I declined to be someone’s doormat.  They were notified they may not use the  video and given 48 hours to take it down before I publicized their exploitation  of the unemployed to pursue an agenda having nothing to do with us. If “Re-Build  the Dream” wanted to adjust the message to include 99ers, I would lend my  support. But the video may not be up as is because this was not in the contract.  I will protect 99ers, no matter what it takes. The video was taken down and no  sincere attempt was ever made to reach out or improve the  message.

As I watched “Meet the Press” today, I was reminded of why  we are such a commodity to be used by so many groups.  They want to increase their political  capital.  Meanwhile, the people they  exploit continue to remain unrepresented.  I guess Democracy isn’t about freedom anymore it’s about what group you  belong to, how well it is funded and who has the ear of the leaders in  Washington.  This creates division  in America.

I don’t propose you hate these groups. But I do wonder, if  they truly want equality, why deceive us into participating and then leave so  many supporters behind?  Why don’t  Americans care about anyone but themselves and those they connect with daily?  Are Americans controlled by special interest groups who have millions of dollars  in funding but represent themselves to be “grass roots” movements?

The 99ers didn’t want special interest funding. They wanted  solutions so the group could be dismantled and we could go on with our  lives.  Instead, both sides black  listed us and relegated 99ers into a black hole built by those who could have  closed it.

Special Interest groups aren’t so special. It’s WRONG to  walk over citizens to manipulate action; corrupting and molding the system to  benefit a very small group.  If this  is democracy, we need a new description.

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3 Responses to Special Interest Democracy

  1. timoburke says:

    The reality is this is how things are right now. Are you familiar with the Prez’s American Jobs Act? It will create approx 2 Million jobs across all 50 states but Republicans won’t pass it because they don’t want a successful Democratic President. So, we need to vote out more Republicans from the House in 2014 to attain a Dem Majority — which, by the way, would normally have already resulted from Nov 2012’s elections (more House votes for Dems than GOP, and the House is structured to represent by population and numbers of votes) EXCEPT the Republicans were in charge in 2010 when the census allowed for redistricting House districts ‘to better reflect changes in population growth’, but in actuality allowed for crazy-shaped ‘gerrymandered’ districts drawn around conservative areas, where a Democrat would require 2-3 times the number of votes of a Republican candidate to get elected. THIS is why House GOP don’t care about the nation blaming them for going over the fiscal cliff — they’re buffered from general disapproval. The only thing they’re worried about is an even more Right-Wing Republican candidate running against them for their congressional seat.

    So, 99ers must tag along on the actions that most likely will benefit them, which are led by the Liberals, the Progressives, and the Democrats. But I wouldn’t consider that a failure of democracy – like-minded people always need to band together against a common threat. Here’s the resource on the Jobs Act, and you can look up your state to see what will be coming: http://www.americanjobsact.com/

    • Are you aware that the American Jobs Act DOES NOT INCLUDE anyone who has exhausted their UI benifits…In its legal writing it is written for people currently collecting UI…so if it was to pass tommorow all those 2 million exhaustees that just feel off the UI rolls would not be able to participate in it either…JUST A FYI…

  2. Pingback: AFL your idea offers DIVIDE…99ers offers TRUE UNITY. | unifiedforjobsinamerica

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