By Ralph Nader
To have a democratic society that brings out the best in its citizens, people have to show up—to vote, to attend city council meetings, rallies, marches, and other serious gatherings that reflect the public interest. They also need to support progressive candidates and run for office.
Showing up is half of democracy. We invite you to attend, in person, our four-day Breaking Through Power conference in Washington, DC, featuring some of the most accomplished civic leaders and thinkers as well as opportunities for you to become energized and engaged wherever you live or work.
Whether you see yourself as a dissatisfied voter, a civically-minded teacher, a curious student, a fed up consumer, a dismayed taxpayer, or if you are looking for ways to make your community better, you’ll come away with knowledge, tools for action, and connections with others who want to make a difference.
Visit breakingthroughpower.org to see the conference speakers—people who long ago decided they were going to dedicate their time and talent to make our country responsive to the necessities and aspirations of its people.
The First Day—September 26th—is about building civic skills and breaking through apathy. You can see David Freeman talk from his experience of advising presidents, governors, and running four big public utilities, including the vast Tennessee Valley Authority, wisely lay out a practical path to economical renewable energy with environmental respect.
Have you been ripped off? Hear Oliver Hall of the Center for Competitive Democracy talk about using small claims court or the people’s courts. They are located everywhere.
Thinking about a community-based business? Listen to the nation’s expert, Neil Seldman, from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, talk about how community business is revolutionary.
Want to engage with the safe, nutritious food movement? You’ll be shown the way by the leading safe food advocate—who has done it for 45 years—Dr. Michael Jacobson.
Whether it is empowering consumers, getting corporate money out of politics, knowing the safeguards for whistleblowing or building public opinion behind your proposals, advocates who are among the best in the country are ready to share their experience and enthusiasm with you at the Breaking Through Power conference.
Let’s say you’re a teacher and you want to convey civic skills to your students and motivate them to overcome their apathy and work for needed change. You couldn’t have a better day’s retreat. There is even a talk on the civic engagement of business leaders by Mitch Rofsky, who founded the delightfully pro-consumer motor club called the Better World Club [www.betterworldclub.com].
The Second Day is a huge eye-opener and brain-filler. Did you know that “We the People” actually own the greatest wealth in our country? I’m referring to the vast public lands, onshore and offshore, the research and development, funded by taxpayers, that enabled today’s new industries, the huge capital amassed in the form of pension and mutual funds and individual shareholdings. But corporations control their uses and reap the profits, abetted by their influence over Congress and government officials in Washington. Imagine if we took back reasonable control over those assets that we already own. A society beyond our optimistic dreams would emerge, assuming that we provided “eternal vigilance.”
Well, that’s what Day Two is all about—our savings, our natural resources, and our other “commons” being shaped to fit your needs and those of your descendants.
Day Three responds to people’s interest in ways to start new citizen groups by the heads of groups each exhibiting a different model. The afternoon is devoted to D.C. statehood—the New Columbia to replace the Washington D.C. colony and abolish the servitude that blocks the residents of our nation’s capital from having voting representatives in Congress.
Day Four, held at historic Constitution Hall, celebrates the two great liberation movements that provide us with self-actuating freedoms to have our day in court and make contracts fair. Naturally, the big corporations are irritated by challenges to their overreaching, so over the decades they have weakened the law of torts—the remedies for wrongful injuries—and perfected the anti-consumer, one-sided, fine-printed contracts that await you when you enter into the marketplace of goods and services. Our rights to fair contracts and to use tort law are under constant attack from the promoters of crony capitalism. Attend the Breaking Through Power Conference and learn what you can do to defend yourself.
You’ll be engrossed by advocates who have represented successfully people like you and scholars who can clearly demonstrate what is at stake when we decide to strengthen the fundamental freedoms to use tort law.
Consider these four days as the Super Bowl of Civic Action that can equip you to seek justice and protect yourself from wrongful impacts on your living condition.