Sometimes events of great importance fail to hit media radar screens. For instance, the protests of Democracy Spring movement in the United States were to large extent eclipsed by other stories.
In early April participants in the Democracy Spring campaign marched nearly 150 miles south to Washington, where the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) organized rallies and events to «draw attention to our corrupt campaign finance system and rigged voting laws». A related group, Democracy Awakening, joined the effort. It was symbolic that the march started in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the Second Continental Congress adopted the United States Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
On April 11, more than 1400 protesters staging a sit-in in Washington against the influence of money in politics and congressional inaction to reverse it were arrested for unlawful demonstration activity. Those taken into custody were charged with «crowding, obstructing and incommoding». One of them was PCCC co-founder Adam Green. The list of arrested also included ardent Bernie Sanders supporter and actress Rosario Dawson, Harvard Law School professor and former Democratic presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig, actor Mark Ruffalo and renown academic Noam Chomsky, the «the father of modern linguistics».
Many attendees were sporting Bernie Sanders t-shirts and signs.
The movement is pushing for a series of legislative actions, including the passage of four bills aimed at reducing «the influence of money in politics» while seeking to «expand and protect voting rights».
«Our collective demand to Congress is that it take immediate action to end the corruption of big money in politics and ensure free & fair elections in which every American has an equal voice», the Democracy Spring website says.
The campaign was backed by a coalition of over 100 national organizations, unions, churches and community groups, with students, retirees, veterans and religious leaders traveling across the country to join the week of sit-ins.
Actually, the movement has many things in common with the Republican Tea Party. Both want America returned «back to the roots». The Democracy Spring refers to the Second Continental Congress, while the Tea Party’s name refers to the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773, a watershed moment in the American struggle for independence from Great Britain. Both are characterized by vociferous anger at Congress and the White House. Mistrust of politicians, government and the media runs deep.
The Tea Party has sponsored multiple protests and supported various political candidates since 2009. Nowadays its impact on US political life is great. It is represented by young and promising politicians, like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, the former Republican presidential hopefuls in the 2016 race. The emergence of such a powerful movement inside the Republican Party puts in question the Party’s leadership control and challenges the GOP’s establishment.
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is the name given to a protest movement that began in 2011. It has received global attention spawning the global Occupy movement against social and economic inequality. The main issues raised by the movement were social and economic inequality, greed, corruption and the perceived undue influence of corporations on government – particularly from the financial services sector. The OWS slogan, «We are the 99%», refers to income inequality and wealth distribution in the US between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population. The movement is supported by the same organizations that support the Democracy Spring, for instance: the American Federation of Labor Congress of Industrial Organizations, the Coffee Party USA, the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), and many left-wing groups nationwide.
Among all the protest movements, the Democracy Spring stands out for one thing – it is the only one to have an unquestionable, though informal, leader – Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Despite Hillary Clinton’s clear lead, the Senator from Vermont is not leaving the fight. His presence is dragging out Mrs Clinton’s inevitable Democratic nomination. It is also challenging GOP nominee Donald Trump – another rebel to shake the routine of Republican nomination process. Donald Trump has overcome all obstacles in his path. He has put to shame political savvies who had made wrong predictions at the start of the race. Coming from opposite ideological sides, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have the same stance on many issues – both don’t think they owe anything to the respective parties’ leaderships they so viscerally despise.
They represent principled insurgency to the parties’ machines. Every time the respective party’s establishment argues for the departure, both candidates double down, stand tall and do it their ways. Both have gained much of their success from confounding what has been mainstream party thought for decades. Sanders has yanked his party leftward – or, at a minimum, hastened a change that was already underway. Trump has pushed against the Republican Party on issues as small as delegate selection and as large as foreign policy and raised wide grassroots support for his views. Both have criticized their respective parties for the way delegates, who will determine the nominations, are selected. It should be noted here that the second-place Republican, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, has made a career of defying Republican leaders, even if Trump is now attacking him as part of the establishment. Trump and Sanders boldly challenge the aristocratic system where party elites have more power than the rank and file. Both have opposed trade deals they say will take away American manufacturing jobs. Both have said the US global commitments may be a too heavy burden, including NATO. They have called for America paying less for the military Alliance with other members making larger contributions.
Evidently, the nation's major political parties are undergoing a dramatic and potentially long-lasting shift. The young generation within the ranks of the Democratic Party has contributed to the success of Sanders' effort. In the Republicans’ camp, blue-collar whites, who feel threatened by the rise of other groups, have sided with Trump. The grapes of wrath propel the parties' movement to change the face of the country. The developments will impact the country’s foreign policy. The global leadership may no longer be the goal. Even if Hillary Clinton wins the November election, the United States will never be the country it once was.