How to Stop the Empire in your living room!


This is me performing on Saturday at the Fifth Anniversary of Occupy Wall Street in Liberty Square. Photo courtesy of Owen Long.

I spent my Saturday performing in Zuccotti Park/Liberty Square, the place where OWS started some five years ago. The newest version of HOW TO STOP THE EMPIRE WHILE KEEPING YOUR DAY JOB kicked off around 1 PM and I had a decent crowd of people there to listen. I brought new material in on the 2016 election, Cecily McMillan, Black Lives Matter and other issues. All enthusiastically received.

I’m using this post about the show to let people know that I’m willing to tour the play to your venue. You need to come up with travel money and a stipend, but I’m reasonable. I’ll do it in your living room if the deal is right. But it’s critical to start touring– we’re about to elect President Trump, and people need to be ready for that probability.  As I type this, HRC is leading Trump by only .9% in the polls (under a full percentage, well into ‘margin or error’ territory) and is getting  Beaten by Trump in the big swing states such as Ohio and Florida, where the electoral votes decide the election. As Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out in June, Clinton never improves on her lead in an election

And here’s another problem. I saw what happened under Clinton 1 when it comes to the activist community (a topic that deserves a whole post). Hillary aspires to be a ‘Third Term’ for Obama. Under Obama, we have seen the Wall Street criminal class get away with continuing crime after 2008–Obama’s DOJ won’t even prosecute banks for current crimes such as LIBOR or laundering drug money. It looks like we’re being pushed by the Neocons to start a war on Syria, one that will surely become a more infectious disaster that what we’ve already done in Iraq. Hillary Clinton has made it clear that she’s ready to put American boots on the ground in the Middle East/Persian Gulf region. And she’s not above saying things out loud that shouldn’t be said by an American President. But those aren’t the biggest things against her. The biggest thing against her is that she’s talking as if everything’s back to normal after the 2008 crash. If you’ve been looking at my posts over the past few years, you know that isn’t true. We have a record number of working-age adults who don’t have regular employment. Trump is correct to assert that the unemployment numbers have been gamed. All those Occupy Wall Street kids who were living in squats or tenants of their parents’ basements are still not finding employment that would get them into the rental market. And the people looking at retirement haven’t seen a decent return on savings since 2009–they’re still stuck playing in the Wall Street Casino, where it’s clear that the rules don’t apply to the big dealers.

Understood that Donald Trump has no realistic plan to deal with any of this economic turmoil. But Trump, more than anyone else, has zeroed in on America’s continuing economic decline as justification for voting for him, and Clinton has not even acknowledged the problem. Bernie Sanders did, but he has dutifully shuffled offstage and left the ticket to Clinton (my conspiracy minded friends have a joke about Sanders’ exit. Q: what three words did Hillary’s team say to Sanders to get him to leave the race? A: “how’s the family?”). 

So now what? 

I would make the case that the fact that these two candidates are the ‘choice for America’ the two major parties have given us is reason enough to get out in the streets. Quoting from James Howard Kunstler’s column from yesterday, “How could these two ancient institutions, the Democratic and Republican parties, cough up such human hairballs?”  I think you could argue that Americans should be rejecting both of them and staging strikes to demand a new slate of candidates. It can be done under the parliamentary systems in Europe–you have a no-confidence vote, and it’s time for everybody to start over. 

And (back to my original point), people need to figure out that their vote doesn’t count anymore and it’s time for a plan B. There’s a great video by Erica Chenoweth on why nonviolence works. In the video, she focuses on the so-called “3.5% rule”—the notion that no government can withstand a challenge of 3.5% of its population without either accommodating the movement or (in extreme cases) disintegrating. In my play, I justify taking a nonviolent approach from a practical point of view– “I’ve been to Vandenberg and I’ve seen that they have all the cool weapons”. But the reality is that nonviolent uprisings have a much better chance of success. And success is what’s needed in stopping an Empire. 

So do you want me to do my play in your living room? You may need to know how to stop an empire come Inauguration day. 

UPDATE 10/23/2016: I just returned from Washington DC, where I performed an updated version of the play for the TAKE BACK DEMOCRACY MARCH. There’s a link here for information about the march, which was organized by a coalition led by the Real Progressives group. The play  was first presented at an Occupy Brooklyn event in November 2011, and arose from the many discussions I’ve had with protesters over the years when I’ve done research for my plays. I’ve also cleverly appropriated the ideas of people like Saul Alinsky (sorry for the Glen Beck link) and Gene Sharp. If you were at the march/rally and you have pics, I’d love to talk you you.

HOW TO STOP THE EMPIRE (first production in NYC) in 2012

HOW TO STOP THE EMPIRE (a protest against Citizens United) in 2013









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