On Oct. 24 and 25th, 2020, A Radical Guide partnered with Move to Amend (MTA), Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), Liberty Tree, and Pachamama Alliance, to take Time to Reimagine the U.S. Constitution.
This was a two day online event to come together to imagine what a constitutional renewal could look like in the United States. Using the People’s Movement Assembly Process, we explored how to make decisions for collective action and power by asking ‘Where are we?, What is our vision?, and How do we move towards that?’
On day one, we defined the moment we are in, we began answering if we could have anything, what would we want? Day Two, we started mapping out how we get what we want. (Day One recording is here).
Mapping out how we get what we want
We began the day grounding ourselves in the shared assumptions.
- The United States is not now, nor has it ever been a functioning democracy.
- The United States was founded on stolen land and built using stolen labor from enslaved people.
- The U.S. Constitution was created by and for the wealthy elite of the era – excluding most people living on the land at the time of its crafting. Specifically, the Constitution was written to protect and represent white men with money and/or land.
- The U.S. Constitution is a property rights document, not a human rights document.
- The U.S. Constitution was used to perpetuate and legalize attempted genocide, white supremacy and racism, male domination over women, and class oppression. It took mass social movements—broad, deep, conscious, organized and educated—to make marginal improvements in this country. With each hard-won expansion of suffrage, the governing elite devised mechanisms to shrink what effect the vote could have.
- Any movement that wants to actually create a new world must create new institutions (including new legal institutions) that meet people’s needs without destroying the planet that we depend upon for life itself.
- All law should be contingent on and subordinate to the highest laws — unalienable rights shared equally by all. Because “unalienable rights” are /should be the things most highly valued by society and immune from regulation / limitation. The establishment, protection and enforcement of Unalienable Rights must be the constitution’s reason for being and should direct freedom to govern in all things, in the hands of each community, except wherein a law would limit or violate anyone’s Unalienable Rights.
- The constitution of any country at its best reflects its collective inspirations and aspirations. It defines the legal framework of how people structure their society — politically, economically, and socially. Moreover, constitutions are moral or ethical documents — designating what is right and wrong — with profound implications on literally every aspect of the lives of people, their communities, country and the natural world.
- The U.S. Constitution should be renewed or rewritten to account for new generations and circumstances, and should exist as a living document which reflects the challenges and opportunities of the times.
- In order to move towards new systems and a new foundational document, we must be bold and visionary in imagining a better world.
- The ultimate goal of mass movements is not only to change the culture, but to codify movement demands into laws and, more importantly, rights.
From there Patriot X shared his poetry and Ben Manski, President of The Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution, shared a presentation about strategy and constitutional change and what we could do. We took that inspiration to breakout conversation.
The breakout, which consisted of about 10 people per group with a facilitator, explored ‘how do we get what we want’ by answering the following questions;
- What is our plan to make our vision real? With the understanding that we are not going to devise a complete plan for re-writing the constitution on this day. The question is an opportunity to start identifying;
- What could be done
- What is already being done
- What is already being done to move the direction of the vision we built on Day one?
- What needs to be done?
- How do we shift culture around constitutional renewal?
Each group then shared back their thoughts, ideas, and findings to the larger collective, each facilitator took notes in the meeting/conversation so the ideas could be captured.
From there we closed the day and will continue this process as we move forward, so stay tuned and stay in action.