Friday, January 13, 2017

Participatory Democracy: When voting is not enough.

Democracy is not a sport where the two teams do battle every few years and we as spectators cheer our team on, hoping for the best and then watching the post-game show on cable. We're told, the best we can hop for in this case, is a "peaceful transition" of power  -- to the new oligarchs.

On the contrary, participatory democracy requires a citizenry that is both active and educated, with the courage to stand up for its rights and freedoms regardless of which party is in power. It's a 24-7 job. That doesn't mean of course, that we neglect the ballot. But you can only win at the ballot box that which you are willing to fight for and defend on your block, in your school, workplace, and in the community.

Case in point... in 2015 Chicagoans overwhelmingly voted for a referendum supported by the teachers union, calling for an elected School Board and an end the mayor's autocratic rule over the public schools.

An elected school board bill passed the IL House in March in bipartisan fashion, by a 110-4 vote. But the measure was blocked by an unholy alliance between Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Rauner and Senate Pres. John Cullerton, who never allowed the bill to come to a needed vote in the IL Senate. You'll notice that two of the three blockers are Democrats.

From DNAinfo:
With the 100th Illinois General Assembly sworn in Wednesday, state Rep. Robert Martwick (D-Jefferson Park) vowed to reintroduce the bill "immediately" and begin working to bring it to a vote in the Senate.
Martwick has said the lack of an elected School Board has "eliminated democracy in Chicago."
The fallout... Today, the mayor's hand-picked, self-interested board basically spit on the recently-signed teachers collective-bargaining agreement and imposed a 4-day, unpaid "furlough" on teachers and staff.

CTU responds:
“It’s the second year in a row they shortened the school year and cut our pay,” said Jesse Sharkey, the union’s vice president, angry that CPS leaders still won’t seek new revenue sources. Sharkey said the days off were to allow teachers to complete grades at the end of each quarter, work he assumes will still have to be finished and handed in.
“I’m hearing hearing from teachers who are outraged because they see this as a reduction of pay without a reduction of work,” he said. “We’re looking into whether it’s wage theft.”
No point in looking into it. Wage theft it is. Question is how will the CTU respond? Bigger question is, how will we force a senate vote on an elected board?

Last point... Donald Trump's victory, albeit with a massive loss in the popular election, followed by shrinking poll ratings, and Republican control of congress, necessitates an electoral strategy for the upcoming 2018 and 2020 elections. But it also calls for mass actions in the streets and in our communities, beginning with mass protests at Trump's inauguration.

Voting is not enough. #Resist

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