Fasting as a means to change has always struck as akin to a toddler threatening to hold his breath until he gets his way. Which is to say that even with water, without which the body’s tissues will die in a matter of days, abstaining from all other necessary nutrients (in other words, food) will take its toll over time.
But fasting was good enough for Gandhi, and so it is good enough for a group that styles itself 99Rise, which began a water-only fast on October 18 and has pledged to continue through Election Day. The group’s goal is to ensure that “pro-democracy candidates” are elected. Toward that end, its founder, Kai Newkirk, will continue his foodless vigil until Nov. 4 or until at least 28,000 people have signed a “pledge to vote for candidates who support serious reform to get money out of politics” — whichever comes first.
In a press release Newkirk is quoted as saying:
We are fasting to call on all who believe, as we do, in a ‘one person, one vote’ democracy, where the votes of everyday people matter more than the dollars of billionaires and corporations, to take action in defense of that fundamental principle.
The statement doesn’t say whose money it most objects to or which candidates it considers “pro-democracy,” but the group’s name, 99Rise, makes it sound as though its agenda is more pro-Democrat than it is pro-democracy.
So far, 622 people have signed the pledge. If that’s any indication, Kai Newkirk is going to be one very hungry — and very malnourished — person at the end of his protest.