TDC Action 2019
Founder Bill Lasarow originated The Democracy Chain with a January 3, 2018 performance at Los Angeles City Hall, the day of the swearing in of the 116th Congress.
Hundreds of paper bags with art swag were given to passersby, whom our team spoke with about ... democracy. The chain link fence sculpture was displayed in Grand Park across from the main entrance to City Hall. We recited the oath to the Constitution taken by each incoming member of Congress at noon.
This was an expression of a national feeling for and commitment to the preservation and furtherance of democratic
society, the metaphor of the chain being a source of cohesion and strength, but also a symbol of the need to break free of
constraints on our natural freedom in the context of a safe and trusting relationship with a government owned by and answerable to a civil citizenry.
The Democracy Chain
An imagined bi-annual action performed by the free citizenry of a democracy
This is a chain meant to be passed along, culminating in a singular action on the morning of the swearing in of each new Congress, the first Thursday of January, at your local City Hall, State Capitol or other government building.
This gathering will be a civic action in which the audience (each one of us) becomes the performers, forming a circle (which may also be more of a square, rectangle or other irregular shape if necessary to conform to a city block) around public buildings of governance, particularly City Halls and State Capitol buildings. This is to take place on the day of the first Thursday in January at the time, noon Eastern Standard Time, that the new Congress is sworn in in Washington, D.C. At the designated time of the swearing in, as finalized by Congress, participants will join hands to observe a period of silent contemplation (the exact length to be determined, perhaps in accord with the length of the swearing in ceremony, but not necessarily).
The oath that each member of Congress states: "I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States." Please say it or think it.
The Democracy Chain will take place at the hour of Congress' swearing in, in cities across America, large and small. The forming of a circle around each government building at the time of the first Thursday in January is the Democracy Chain. The Democracy Chain is the one consistent and central formal element of this project. This singular visual concept will serve as the organizing principle: a public gathering of free individuals to surround, embrace and protect American democracy. The chain encircling one City Hall serves as a link in the chain of citizens encircling City Halls throughout our land.
Participants are free to plan any activities that may take place before or after the formation of the Democracy Chain. Or there may be none at all. To be determined by: you. Any and all embellishments will be the product of local participants. Post your plans socially so that any other citizen is free to collaborate or borrow.
Each of us assumes responsibility for posting The Democracy Chain action description and image weekly on Mondays through December 31st, to your social media accounts and sent to email databases. The first form of the Democracy Chain is to be this digital chain letter. The culminating action will be to arrive at your local City Hall or State Capitol the morning of the first Thursday in January in order to join hands in a chain embracing each other, the building, the principles of democracy.
At the moment the Democracy Chain takes place there will be no leaders, organizers, performers or speakers — only free citizens expressing the individual empowerment derived uniquely through the function of democracy, of government owned by the people as opposed to the people subjugated by their rulers.
Given this core blend of a singular coherent image/action and the distinct persona of locale, an assumption of civil standards of conduct are to be self-enforcing:
• All are welcome to participate. The ideology of democracy is inclusive of many, many perspectives. Not all.
• This is not a protest march or demonstration; this is an affirmation of who we are.
• People seeking to go into or out of buildings around which a chain is formed will be given free access. Hands will part to permit through passage.
• Feel free to create items such as signs, buttons, shirts, etc. that draw on the language of democracy.
• Readings, teach-ins, workshops are welcome before or after the Democracy Chain takes place. It's up to you to make that happen.
• Local officials who work at the government buildings are welcome to participate as long as it is on the same footing as all other participants.
This action is an expression of a national feeling for and commitment to the preservation and furtherance of democratic society, the metaphor of the chain being a source of cohesion and strength, but also a symbol of the need to break free of constraints to assert our natural freedom in a safe and trusting relationship with a government owned by and answerable to the redress of its citizens.
Whatever the outcome of each November's election every two years, we recognize that this action will be relevant but the tone and feeling may be shaped very differently depending on the historical moment. By its nature it is an aesthetic of shared principle that transcends politics and partisanship and is indifferent to winning and losing. But it is the most political act we will ever undertake outside of the exercise of our franchise.