Most citizens have political opinions. Many are involved in nonprofit community-based organizations. But the time-impaired average person remains politically disorganized and distracted. Collective political action nationally is often limited to mobilizing for wars and elections. Disengagement can seem the norm. Community organizers are bucking this trend. Local issues, be they environmental, fair wages, or municipalization of energy and Internet services, are getting more and more people off their couches. Efforts to assert community rights encounter structural obstacles to direct democracy such as Dillon’s Rule, regulatory law, and the effects of nearly 200 years of corporate constitutional rights. Undaunted, groups like Community Rights PDX, Global Exchange, and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund urge passing local ordinances to defend citizens from further environmental damage and corporate exploitation.
Paul Cienfuegos is a national leader in the Community Rights movement, which works to dismantle corporate constitutional so-called “rights” and assert the people’s inherent right to self-government. He founded Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County in 1995, co-founded Oregon Community Rights Network in 2013, and co-founded Community Rights US in 2017. More info at www.CommunityRights.US.