The Audacity of Hopelessness – Only We the People Can End “Futilism”

“Just because the Republicans are Snidely Whiplash doesn’t make the Democrats Dudley Do-Right.”

– Swami Beyondananda


Illustration by Brian Narelle


Six years ago, I visited Washington, D.C. the week after Barack Obama was elected President. The mood was joyful and ebullient, like the fall of the Berlin Wall, like Jesus just landed in a spaceship. It was morning in America … really.

I knew conservatives who voted for Obama because they saw him as a stand for functional governance, imagining he could clean up Dodge. But a lad, and a lack. Obama and the rest of the corporate Democrat establishment dodged the clean up. First came the bank bailouts, and then in his eagerness to govern from the center, Obama immediately began compromising with Republicans who had vowed to take no prisoners.

By the time the 2010 mid-term elections rolled around, Obama was playing defense, and a poor defense at that. Instead of scrapping underneath the basket, he was hoping to score three-pointers from the sidelines. And just like that, a mandate devolved into a man who couldn’t get a date.

Then three summers ago I met Bill Ayers – the infamous SDS radical whom Obama purportedly consorted with in Chicago. So I asked him for his take on Obama. He replied that Obama is a conventional Chicago politician, and that both frightened conservatives and hopeful progressives projected their worst fears / greatest hopes on this blank projection screen.

To progressives, Obama was a slightly darker white knight here to save us on a dark night. Meanwhile, conservatives screamed, “Obama is a socialist!” (Of course as Swami pointed out if Obama were REALLY a socialist, he’d have a 70% approval rating.)

On the eve of the 2012 election, I wrote a piece for Huffington Post supporting Obama over Romney (and the corporate controllers behind him ready to take control) saying, “I’d rather have positive change in very small increments, than negative change in very large excrements.”

Well, the excrement has now hit the fan, and we have a shituation.

Our republic based on the rule of law and democracy representing the will of the people has devolved into a “new” (and actually very old) system called Futilism.

What is Futilism?

Futilism is collectively spending $4 billion on a mid-term election campaign, and getting the results we have now — a government intentionally paralyzed so that the interests of a very small percentage of the uncommonly wealthy can thwart the will and the wellbeing of the commonwealth. (For a very enlightening view of the endarkened nature of the Koch Brothers’ endeavors, this piece in Rolling Stone says it all and then some.)

In response to the billions in dark money spent by the Koch Brothers and others of their ilk (makes you want to go ilk hunting, eh?), those of us on progressive mailing lists received ceaseless irritating messages from the Democrats saying, “Send us money or else!” In fact a New York Times article just prior to the election indicates the Democrats actually outspent the Republicans in the midterm races!

Not only did the Koch Brothers spend their money, but they spent OURS as well … as millions of sane and reverent (Caroline Casey’s updated term for “environmentally aware”) middle class taxpayers forked over cash to the Democrats to try to stave off this final assault on the rule of law by those seeking to legalize their lawlessness. Talk about Futilism!

I will pull no punches here. The villainy of the Republicans bankrolled by the Koch Brothers and other dark money is undeniable. Blatant lies, voter repression, ruthlessly gerrymandered districts … you can read this piece by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for as much detail as required. Or you can read this piece by Harvey Wasserman on how the coup of the oligarchs is just about complete.

Even the New York Times credits the Republican victory to massive Super Pac funding.

If this were a fictional movie about another country, we would be booing the Koch Brothers and their minions just as surely as we as kids hissed Snidely Whiplash as he tied poor Nell to the railroad tracks.Snidely

But just because the Republicans are Snidely Whiplash doesn’t make the Democrats Dudley Do-Right.

I think they’re more like another cartoon character, Lucy in the Peanuts comic strip who can be counted on to pull the football away every time poor Charlie Brown tries to kick it. “I won’t pull the football away, Charlie Brown,” insists Lucy. And every time, she does and Charlie Brown goes tumbling head over heels.

This was the year the American voters pulled the football out from the Democrats, who took their worst tumble in over 60 years. The Democrats may not survive this one, and in a certain way I hope they don’t — at least not how they have survived since the Reagan years, as the corporate party whose position has been “we’re not as bad as the other guys”.

Why Hopelessness Is Our Only Hope, Or the Truth Shall Upset You Free

Sometimes the bad news is the only good news, and this is one of those times.

This is the perfect time to abandon all hope in the Democratic Party and its entrenched misleadership, and to concede that the oligarchy won the game it so blatantly and brutally fixed. No, the Democrats cannot out-Republican the Republicans, even if they shred their last shred of conscience.

There have been numerous excellent analyses of why the Democrats lost, but none of them go deeply enough into why the party of the New Deal has devolved into the party of the No Deal. The reason why the Democratic Party cannot help us through our current political crisis, has to do with three qualities it has failed to cultivate: vision, leadership and courage.

Let’s begin with vision, which involves both hindsight and foresight — and of course, clarity about both the seen and the unseen. As the Biblical saying goes, “Where there is no vision the people perish.”  In the last chapter of his eye-opening autobiography, The People’s Advocate, Danny Sheehan (the courageous attorney who cut his teeth on the Pentagon Papers and the Karen Silkwood case, and later exposed the Iran Contra scandal) writes, “Twenty-two years after the end of the Cold War, the leadership of the American liberal community has still not deigned to identify … a set of ethical principles.”

He continues, “Until this task has been faced and effectively completed by the leadership of the liberal community in the United States, this community will remain disconnected from the true source of ethical and moral authority.  Consequently, it will not be asked by the American people to govern.”

I would suggest that the reason the Democratic Party has been unable to look forward with clarity is that they have been unwilling to look backward with courage. They have fundamentally failed to see and understand what we the people are really up against, and when push comes to shove who gets to have “last shove”. They remind me of the guy on his hands and knees, obviously looking for something in a parking lot. A passerby wants to help and asks, “Did you lose something?”

“I lost my car keys in the bushes over there,” is the reply.

“Why are you looking in the parking lot, then?” asks the stranger.

“Oh, because there’s more light here.”

The Democrats are deathly afraid of the dark — in this case, the dark perpetrations of those who over the years have sought to overrule the rule of law for their own interests. When Democratic voters wonder why Obama never had that FDR moment where he stood up to the banks, it’s likely they never heard of the Business Plot where a group of industrialists sought to stage a military coup and depose Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal in 1933. ( It’s only because the individual the conspirators planned to install as dictator, Gen. Smedley Butler, was outraged at the idea and blew the whistle on the plot that it’s barely a footnote in history.

Then there is the Kennedy assassination where — if you look right below the surface — the official story doesn’t match the evidence, and you find a multitude of stories where doctors had to recant their original testimony about JFK’s wounds so it matched the official narrative. You can read more about that in my article a year ago on James Douglass’s eye-opening book, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters.

I won’t delve into the 911 issue here, except to recommend the latest of many documentaries pointing out the blatant anomalies in the official story, including stories of firefighters who first recognized the signs of planned demolition and were likewise ignored or pressured to change their testimony.

Perhaps the one significant thing both the Kennedy assassination and the official 911 stories have in common is that alternative narratives are considered taboo by the mainstream media. In all the documentaries shown to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination last year, not one of them contradicted the “lone assassin” theory.

So how is this pertinent to the 2014 elections and the Democrats?

As the political party whose role for the last century has been to protect the 99% against the excesses of capitalism, they have danced around the edges rather than confront the Military Industrial Complex — and their cronies in big banking, big oil, big Pharma and big agriculture — on the increasingly predatory nature of their endeavors.

The Democrats have been — and will likely continue to be — incapable of leadership, because leadership at this moment in history requires thinking outside the current political matrix. It requires the vision that unequivocally points us toward a world where “we’re all in this together”, and the courage to confront the unspeakable perpetrations so they can be healed, and we as a country can finally use our human, our spiritual, our creative and our natural resources in concert.

An Independents Movement For 2016

As Danny Sheehan suggests — and Rabbi Michael Lerner echoes in his book The Left Hand of God – the current political “shituation” has less to do with economic issues than spiritual ones. The deep divide between the secular left and the religious right has left a moral vacuum at the heart of our body politic. So it should be no surprise that the unchecked, unbalanced and unmitigated power of money should be our de facto ruler.

The failure of the secular left to confront this fundamental moral and ethical issue, has empowered the paradoxical “selfish-righteousness” that somehow blends fundamentalist Christianity and atheistic Ayn Randism into a belief set that simultaneously promotes creationism and social Darwinism. If that seems outrageously absurd, the liberal left has provided no compelling narrative that speaks to the virtues and values that the 90% of us who are not sociopaths hold dear, values that transcend left and right.

No wonder a poll last spring indicated that those who identify as “independents” now comprise 42% of the electorate, whereas 31% identify as Democrats, and just 25% as Republicans. This represents much more what people DON’T WANT than what they do, since there is not yet a coherent political “independents” movement.

As for how to launch, vitalize and “viralize” such a movement, I don’t have the answer. But as some wise man (or was it wise guy?) once said, if we want better answers, we have to ask better questions. So I end with these Frequently Unasked Questions (FUQ) that might just spark an upwising:

What if there WAS a political independents movement focused neither on left nor right, but on actual rules of fair and transparent governance?

What if there were a “wiki politiki” where individuals and groups from all sides could aggregate the best ideas and approaches to empower a true citizens movement?

What if there were an actual “citizens union” — similar to Consumer Reports — that became a true neutral convener and reliable media source for all sides?

What if conversations were convened nationally and locally, across ideological lines, so that we the people could do an “intervention” on a corrupt system incapable of transforming itself?

What if there was a verifiable site where every citizen could have a voice and a vote — so that the powers in power could see exactly where the vast majority of Americans stand on key issues?

What if our government became a “rubber stamp” for the wisdom of the people, instead of a “robber stamp” for special interests?

Now you might be thinking, “Whoa … you are proposing a sane world. You must be crazy.”

Only if we are crazy enough to imagine something different, will we achieve the sane governance that America’s founders envisioned, and enjoy government of, by and for the people … that does OUR bidding, not the bidding of the highest bidder.

Steve Bhaerman is an author, humorist, political scientist (no, he never did get to actually dissect a politician in poly sci lab) and transpartisan activist. His most recent book is Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future and a Way to Get There From Here, written with cellular biologist Bruce Lipton. He can be found online at and on Twitter @swamibe.

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Independents Day – A People’s Upwising

“We have a deeply-divided body politic in America. Half the population believes our elections are broken. The other half believe they are fixed.” — Swami Beyondanandafourth-of-july-pic

When I was a kid, my favorite humorist was someone you’ve probably never heard of, H. Allen Smith. Smith grew up in small town America in the early decades of the 20th century, back when “city slickers” came to these small towns to hustle and bilk “country rubes”. One of the classic games was the old shell game where the perpetrator deftly moves a thimble or walnut shell over a pea and the “marks” have to guess which thimble the pea is under.

According to Smith, as a young child he happened upon one of these games in the town square. After observing the game for a while, young Smith blurted out: “Maybe it ain’t under any of ‘em.”

What followed was an uncomfortable yet profound silence. The con artist swiftly packed his table and was off to the next unsuspecting town.

And the point is?

Just as surely as the innocent perception of a child was able to bust the trance of the shell game, an awakening body politic is now beginning to see through the con game called “two party politics mediated by a media determined to create lots and lots of heat, and very little light”.

As we mark July 4th, Independence Day this year, maybe we should celebrate “Independents Day” as more people than ever before are declaring their independence from a two-party system where the vast majority of the American people haven’t been invited to the party. Not that we aren’t hit up for presents. Not a day goes by I don’t get an email from the Democratic Party with an alarming headline and a piece that goes: “The Koch Brothers … ooga booga blah blah blah, send us money!”

Since I am an equal-opportunity masochist, I’m on the conservative lists too, and those emails go: “Obama … ooga booga blah blah blah, send us money!”

Now maybe this isn’t EXACTLY like the shell game — more like the extortion game. It’s not enough that the commonwealth is being drained of resource by the uncommonly wealthy Koch Brothers. Now their thievery is being used to steal even more money from the American people — in the guise of fighting them. As anyone who has voted Democrat as the lesser evil will attest, you can count on the Democrats in the same way Charlie Brown could count on Lucy pulling away the football every time he tries to kick it.

However … an upwising is afoot. More and more Americans are wising up to the political sideshow as a “debate and switch” shell game, where weapons of mass-distraction are used to keep us from addressing the fundamental issue of governance — who’s in charge of who’s in charge?

There are definitely signs of a “transpartisan” movement to liberate us from the partisan trance and “overgrow” the system.

A recent poll indicates that 42% of Americans now call themselves “independents” — more than ever before — with just 31% identifying themselves as Democrats, and a record low 25% as Republicans.

People are waking up literally “left and right” as progressives are looking past Hillary (whom Swami Beyondananda has described as a “Wolfowitz in Sheepowitz’s clothing”) to Elizabeth Warren, and Tea Partiers are likewise looking askew at corporatism.

Consider that the upstart “Brat” who defeated corporatist neocon Eric Cantor in Virginia stated that Cantor “does not represent the citizens of the 7th district, but rather large corporations seeking insider deals, crony bailouts, and constant supply of low-wage workers.”

Mark my words (or, if you prefer, mock my words) there will be an “independents” movement in 2016 that will change the political landscape forever. These independents — independent of the Democrats, the Republicans, and the corporate media who have until now defined the parameters of political conversation — will naturally call forth the “interdependence” of progressive greens and libertarian conservatives looking to create a new alliance that finally reunites progressives and populists.

Yes, certain issues will still divide us. And … as more and more Americans recognize that “divide-and-conquer” has been used against the common people since the days of the Roman empire, the famous Patrick Henry quote, “United we stand, divided we fall” will come to represent a newly-united body politic around the issues 80% or 90 % of us agree on. According to transpartisan activist Lawrence Lessig, more than 90% of Americans believe it’s important to reduce the influence of money in politics. The same 90%, however, are resigned to “a corrupt status quo”, believing that situation (or more accurately, shituation) won’t change any time soon.

That’s what the “upwising” is all about. At some point — ideally before the 2016 elections — a critical mass of the heretofore uncritical masses — will wise up and rise up together to “overgrow” the current corrupt system.

As we mark the 238th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, it’s important for us to look past the shortcomings of what some progressives shortsightedly dismiss as “slave-holding white guys” to honor and amplify the evolutionary radicalism of this document.

The Declaration begins, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …”

Until that time, only kings could grant “rights” and declaring that governments derive legitimacy from “consent of the governed” would in most places be a ticket to either the dungeon or the madhouse.

And yet … this is the document that our governance is founded on. According to the Declaration of Independence, the true sovereign in this nation is “we the people”. We may finally be on the threshold of having the psychological, spiritual and political maturity to grant ourselves the power to oversee governance — rather than “overlook” it, as we have done until now.

Faced with a system that is so rigged, so corrupt, so dysfunctional, we may finally discover the inner resources to become the citizens our Founders dreamed of. Fortunately, we now have the technological tools to communicate beyond the boundaries of the mainstream media, to aggregate in a “digital town square”, to instantly measure the public’s position on any issue, and to come together in constructive conversation to work together and empower a better story.

We have the wherewithal, and the next two years will be about cultivating the “aware-with-all” — and perhaps with all the awareness, we can once and for all establish government of the people, by the people, for the people where the government does OUR bidding, not the bidding of the highest bidder.

The evolution has begun, and we encourage you to join the upwising!

(To find out more, please send us an email)

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5 Reasons I’m Supporting Marianne Williamson for Congress

“We don’t need a new third party in America — we need a new FIRST party.”
– Swami Beyondananda

There’s that classic bumpersticker I saw again recently: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention!”

Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson

I would take that sentiment and reframe it more positively: “If you are awake and aware, you know that NOW is the time for a movement to overgrow the current political and economic dysfunction.”

That statement calls forth two questions: How do we launch such a movement, and how do we sustain and accelerate it?

Indeed many, many people are feeling frustrated — and despair even — at a political system that seems to be less and less responsive to the will of the people (unless, of course, those “people” happen to be corporations). Combine this with the burgeoning planetary “shituation” of global warming, and many folks would find sad truth in Stephen Colbert’s tongue-in-cheek suggestion that we simply do nothing and run out the clock.

Of course there is the minor issue of what we tell our children and grandchildren.

In any case, my sense is there is a ripeness in both urgency and awareness — which is why I am supporting my friend Marianne Williamson in her campaign for Congress as an Independent. You might ask, what difference would it make for one individual to be elected at a time when the moneyed forces seem to be occupying every seat of power?

The short answer has to do with an idea the great practical philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller pointed out decades ago — the trim-tab. In a Playboy interview in 1972, Bucky said:

Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary — the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab.

It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. So I said, call me Trim Tab.

It may not be exactly as easy as Bucky suggests … and … a small thing like one courageous and articulate independent being elected to Congress and an even smaller thing — you mobilizing your friends and colleagues in California’s 33rd District to register by May 19th and vote for Marianne on June 3rd — can likewise have an impact. Here are five reasons why:

1. A Coherent and Pertinent Message. Marianne and her campaign are addressing the two most fundamental and significant issues facing America and the world today — and she is combining them in a unique and effective way. Those issues are the unchecked, unbalanced, and unmitigated power of money to determine the rules of governance and public policy … AND … the absence of the sacred in the public sphere. Think about it. Why do you imagine the power of money is so powerful, and why do we so easily accept that power? I say it’s because it’s because we are so divided into religious vs. secular tribes that we don’t recognize the virtues and values people from across the political and spiritual spectrum have in common. There is a sense of sacred that includes and transcends both religion and non-religion, and that is the unifying power and story that Marianne speaks to. In saying we need to take money out of politics, she is also saying we need to re-invite and insert the sacred in its place. She has the ability to articulate this distinction, and her campaign is doing just that.

2. She is running as an Independent. Marianne recognizes that the Democratic Party is just as firmly and dysfunctionally entrenched in pay-to-play politics as the Republicans are, and she is affirming what the American people are already seeing. A Gallup poll early this year found that a record 42% of Americans identify as “independents” — compared to 31% Democrats and 25% Republicans. I would suggest that most of those who identify as “Democrats” would even more fervently identify as “not Republicans”, a sad indication that neither party holds a compelling vision for the future. Marianne does.

3. She Can Win. In the heavily Democratic 33rd Congressional District (which includes the cities of Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Calabasas, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Marina del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Palos Verdes Estates, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, Topanga, Venice and Westwood), Marianne more closely represents the values of Democratic voters than the candidates the Democratic Party is running. Since voter turnout in off-year primaries can be as low as 20% of the eligible voters, a focused campaign of inspired voters could pull this off. Keep in mind that in California’s open primaries, no party affiliation is required to vote … and the two top vote getters regardless of party will face-off in November.

4. Her Being in the Race in November Will Make News. As Scoop Nisker famously said decades ago, if you don’t like the news make some of your own. One of the great benefits of the Occupy movement two years ago was that it broke the conversation about oligarchy through the “soundless barrier”. Occupy became the news, and as participants were interviewed by mainstream media their message came through loudly and clearly. If Marianne becomes one of the two candidates running in November, she will automatically have a platform to speak to the press, locally and nationally. Should she be elected to Congress in November, she will be a voice perhaps more pertinent and articulate than either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.

5. This is YOUR Chance to Participate. During the Kennedy years, more than 80% of Americans trusted their government. The latest figures show it’s now more like 20%. Do the math. Do the aftermath. Voter apathy and disgust is at an all-time high. Yes, there was a spike in 2008 as an awakening electorate pinned their hopes on Obama. Now that the hopium has worn off, the liberating news is that more than ever, it is up to us. If you live in the 33rd District, this is your chance to cast a MEANINGFUL vote. If you don’t, it’s a chance to encourage your friends and family who do live there to cast THEIR meaningful vote. And you can support the campaign financially. As the Swami says, “It takes money to take the money out of politics!”

Here’s how YOU can make a difference NOW:

1. If you live in the 33rd District, make sure you are registered (the deadline is May 19th, this coming Monday) and make sure you vote for Marianne on Tuesday, June 3rd.

2. If you don’t live in the 33rd District, share this message with folks who do! Post the link on your Facebook page, post it on your blog, and CALL the people you know who live in that district. DO IT NOW!! The deadline to register is Monday, so this weekend is our window.

3. Donate money to Marianne’s campaign, and consider volunteering. You can find out more right here:

In these volatile and unpredictable times, ONE VICTORY could be the trim tab to turn the ship of state around. A victory in June, and then again in November might just be the spark to jumpstart the heart of a once disheartened and now awakening body politic. This is your chance to be a part of it now.

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