What’s next for the Occupy movement, and where do you lie on the political spectrum?

Occupy Austin’s encampment at City Hall has been evicted. Occupy Wall Street has a dwindling number of protesters due to the season in NYC. It seems that the movement is fizzling.

Or not. Maybe it’s simply regrouping to come back in another form. The issues certainly haven’t gone away.

I notice a little more attention being paid to the vocabulary of political candidates, especially one poignant observation that the two-word phrase missing from any Republican candidate’s speechifying are these two words: middle class.

Why isn’t more of this political season devoted to which candidates support/oppose Citizens United and campaign finance reform? Because if they don’t vocally oppose them, they are comfortable lining their pockets with corporate money and being part of the corruption that has overtaken our government.

The Occupy movement got lots of criticism for being unfocused, for not having good sound bites. If you’re still wondering what it was/is about, I came across this article summarizing the 10 clearest demands of the movement.

Number one? Too much money in politics.

If there was a specific piece of government action that was most derided (directly or indirectly) by OWS protestors, it was Citizens United v. FEC.  For a bunch of highly-educated justices, the Citizens United decision was staggering in its boneheadedness.  Long story short, the court ruled that corporations have the same free-speech rights as individuals, and basically turned on the biggest spigot of private money into politics in recent memory. Oh, and it also expanded the definition of Corporate Personhood to absurd new heights.

Unsurprisingly, people weren’t too happy about the fact that no matter how much they canvassed, voted, donated to political campaigns or argued on the internet, they can never match the millions that private companies can muster.  Bought politicians were unwanted before Citizens United, but afterwards it seemed blatant — like they weren’t even bothering to pretend anymore.  Many OWS protestors took to the streets because they feel like we are now living in a country with two classes of people: those without money and those who matter to politicians.  It’s so absurd because, as one anonymous commenter put it: “I’ll believe a corporation is a person when one is executed in Texas.”

If the 70% of the people who for years have believed that government is headed in the wrong direction could focus together and elect/support policymakers to overturn Citizens United and enact campaign finance reform, well, we the people will have taken our country back.

Is that not what you really want — government of the people, by the people, for the people? I do.

How do we get this done? It is daunting, but I cannot say it’s impossible. And I’m open to ideas.

Here’s one thing you can do: You can support, campaign, and vote for candidates who support these two policies, who make them their top priority, who can stand in the face of opposition, corruption, and greed. They’re out there. I know it.

We can make “where their campaign money comes from” a litmus test for candidates. Here’s an organization working on showing where the money really comes from.

I wonder how unbought candidates can gain a toehold in the media and get their message across to voters.  Wealthy interests will of course fund their opponents, who can buy ad time and image consultants and speech writers.

Facebook, Twitter, and door-to-door campaigning, maybe?

For this “revolution” to happen, it’s gonna have to be mostly grass-roots, which Occupy showed us could be done. The concept and phrase “the 99%” is not going away, and it has made a difference.

It’s just gonna take even more of a revolution in people’s minds, hearts, and resolve to make these changes.

Supporting a truly free press is important. This table ranks nations on democracy, free press, and corruption. The U.S. is still better off than most nations, and that needs to be said. But we are less democratic, free, and uncorrupt than we like to think.

Where do you want it to go from here?

A friend asked what you call a government that caters to corporate interests. I looked it up on Wikipedia (political systems): it’s mostly plutocracy (rule by wealth — corporate interests, Koch Bros.), and I see elements of oligarchy (rule by the few — who buy politicians) and theocracy (rule by “God” or “his” representatives — Christian right) influencing it.

There are some elements of fascism (rule by a leader) in the way people’s civil rights have been taken away in the name of counter-terrorism. And there is also some technocracy/plutocracy (rule by wealthy experts) in the way that Wall Street provides the government’s economic experts and directs economic policy.

So there you have it: we live in a pluto-oliga-theo-fasci-technocracy.

If you’re wondering where your politics lie on the spectrum, go to The Political Compass. (Thanks, my friend, for telling me about this.) You answer the questions to view a chart showing where your politics lie on the left-right, authoritarian-libertarian axes.

I’m a far left libertarian in my politics, more than radical than Gandhi or any candidate or party shown. This doesn’t surprise me, because I came of age in terms of political awareness and involvement in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

I was told back then that the FBI had a file on me for protesting Vietnam. In high school. In Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Remembering that, my eyes are rolling. I’m coming out of the closet about that. And I ain’t done yet.

Yoga + politics: a good match?

It’s All Yoga, Baby has named “The Protester” 2011 yogi of the year.

So how do you feel about yogis being involved in politics? Yoga has been part of the Occupy movement from the start, mostly in the form of yoga classes for the Occupiers.

Some prominent yogis have gotten involved, while many have stayed out of it completely.

Is yoga political? I say clearly, yes, if you understand that yoga is a philosophy and not just exercise. Patanjali’s yamas are one of the eight limbs of yoga, asanas being another. Yes, yoga is actually so much more than asanas.

The yamas are the first of the eight limbs, guidelines for ethical social conduct, or moral principles that initiate the practice of yoga. They are: nonviolence, nonlying, nonstealing, non-sexual excess, and nonpossessiveness. In other words, kindness, honesty, trustworthiness, responsible relating, and nonattachment.

It’s hard to understand how any yogi following the yamas could fail to  clearly see their connection to the issues of the Occupy movement.

Some of you know me personally, and some of you only know me through this blog. I write about wellness, not about politics so much, although I did visit Occupy Austin earlier this year and blogged about it.

I am a yogi. I’ve been one for a long time. I practice yoga because it helps me be whole in body, mind, heart, and spirit. I teach yoga because I want to share its goodness. I study yoga because it is good, and it pleases me to grow. I am more awake because of yoga.

Another way of saying I am awake is to say I occupy myself. I live in the world. I am an activist. I sign petitions. I send letters. I vote. I donate. I want to make a difference for the better, and for sure, I can’t if I do nothing, so I do something.

I’m not that public about it. If you’re my Facebook friend or Twitter follower, you probably see a little more of my activism. There is more to me than being an activist, for sure, but heck, I like peace. I like justice. I like freedom. I like goodness. And I will work for them.

I understand the power of the 99% slogan in protesting corruption, heartlessness, inequity, greed. I also believe we are all part of the 100%. Yoga is about union, yoking, bringing together. Attacking people creates hardness and resistance, just like forcing the body into a pose it’s not ready for is a recipe for injury. Instead, think of the prep work and the softening and melting that allow changes to occur on the mat.

This can happen in the world.

I’m so proud of Occupy for adhering to nonviolence, showing and telling the truths about the occupiers’ lives, and confronting behaviors of stealing, irresponsibility, and greed, both within the movement and in the larger society. This is yoga!

I like respectful dissent, thoughtful protest, free speech, freedom of assembly, clarity. I’d love it if the Occupy movement could get the voters of this country focused on getting money out of politics, i.e., campaign finance reform would be one really meaningful, revolutionary change to focus on. In my opinion, accomplishing that would be taking the people’s power back from those who would subvert democracy out of greed. They know not what they do, and they can change.

I wonder if they ever wonder what their grandchildren will think of them, when today is history.

This activist yogi advocates occupying your body, your mind, your heart, and your spirit. Occupy yourself, live in the world, follow the yamas, and change it for the better.