I have had a number of spirited conversations in recent weeks over the Occupy movement. While I think the movement has been unfairly criticized for lacking focus or specific suggestions for change (it’s not even two months old!), I do believe that we need to start thinking about this direction. For years, I have watched individuals and agencies all fighting for their individual causes, and found the lack of a unifying progressive agenda in this country frustrating.
So whenever this topic arises regarding Occupy, I can’t help but think of the Port Huron Statement, the manifesto of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) completed on June 15, 1962. Whatever one thinks about the 60’s and how the movement eventually went astray, I still find this Statement a compelling articulation of the liberal, progressive mind of America.
Now that I find myself in Midland, Michigan – home of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy – I yearn even more strongly for a voice of fairness, compassion, and reason. What is stopping us from gathering together our best minds and our most passionate leaders to take the New York General Assembly statement to the next level of clearly explaining our vision for a future America? What is stopping us from creating a plan of action for the next decade?
The beauty of such a statement today is that the Port Huron document was the reflection of only one generation. The Occupy movement could bring together literally every demographic in this nation. And today, the technology certainly exists to bring together people of every socioeconomic group without a concern over travel expenses and lost wages. We could even use the New York General Assembly Statement as an outline to frame the document that could eventually be distributed and ratified by General Assemblies in countless cities.
I want a Declaration of Independence for 21st century America – independence from the corruption of the democratic ideal, from the perversion of capitalist economy that our corporate complex has created.