On Oct. 24 and 25th, 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?’
Define the moment we are in and answer, if we could have anything, what would 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 Eleanor Goldfield shared some poetry and we took that inspiration to our first breakout conversation. The breakout, which consisted of about 10 people per group with a facilitator, explored ‘Where are we’ by defining the moment, context, challenges, and opportunities in front of us by answering the following questions;
- Define the current conditions and name some of the political, social, ecological, cultural, and legal crises we’re currently facing.
- What are the conditions, opportunities, threats, and context?
- If someone from the future asked you to describe what’s happening around you at this moment in history, what might you say?
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 and used for the action planning section.
After the first round, we formed into groups again to explore the question, ‘Vision of a People’s Constitution. If we could have anything, what would we want?‘ by being invited to be visionary;
- The challenge is for us to envision a radically better, just, sustainable, and democratic future. Thinking bigger than what we’ve been told is possible or likely. Specifically, what is our vision for a People’s Constitution?
- If we were going to create a constitution today, what are some things we’d want to include?
Again, 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 and used for the action planning section.
From there we closed the day and set the stage for Day 2. Day two will take us from visionary to action planning. (Day two recording is here).