By Steve Bhaerman
“It’s kind of hard to back Obama up when he keeps backing down.”
— Swami Beyondananda
I “treated” myself to a viewing of Inside Job last night, and never have I seen a more compelling exposé on “gold collar crime.” Naturally, we see Reagan and both Bush Administrations helping to establish the absolute rule of private wealth over our commonwealth. Unnaturally, we see “Democrats” Clinton and Obama cheerfully moving the program along as well. In one tragically compelling scene, we see Obama reappointing Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the (extremely well) Fed. Obama is actually averting his eyes, as Bernanke steps up to accept the appointment. As someone at the showing said, “Without knowing who either of these guys are, it is very obvious by looking at their interaction where the real power lies.” (Hint: We the people had nothing to do with putting this power into power.)
Meanwhile, the upwising in Wisconsin continues. Caught up in the anger are remorseful union members who got suckered by the rhetoric of Fox “News” and the Koch Brothers-funded Tea Party movement, and voted Republican. Now before we fall in with those tie-dyed-in-the-wool lefties who dismiss Tea Partiers as “a sorry bunch of Koch-suckers,” let’s remember this. Those Tea Party folks at the very least got off their duffs and stood for something – before the election. If all of those who enthusiastically worked for Obama stood up with the same commitment and passion – well, we wouldn’t need Obama, would we?
Again – back to Inside Job – one of the saddest, most truthful parts of the movie shows Obama offering his heartening rhetoric before the 2008 election followed by his disheartening acquiescence to the power of money afterward. Would that qualify progressives who fell for the “debate and switch” as “Obama suckers?”
The good news in the sad news is that more progressive leaders and activists are now ready to move past Obama and create a movement that goes far beyond the Democratic Party. Along with this awakening is an understanding that to do so means reaching and communicating with those Tea Partiers, many of whom share some of the same core concerns about the out-of-control power of the corporate state.
At Tikkun Magazine’s 25th anniversary celebration this past week, Rabbi Michael Lerner spoke more eloquently than ever about reaching for a broader coalition, particularly around the common concerns the common people from all sides have about the “great banking robbery” that occurred over the past decade. As part of his presentation, he showed a clear, entertaining and well-made video that suggests a Constitutional Amendment abolishing corporate personhood (and hence lots of the corporate “poisonhood” that has been poisoning our ‘hood).
As the video cartoon states, 85% of all Americans believe corporations have become too powerful. Does that 85% include many Tea Party folks? You betcha.
If we simply stick to speaking to our own “tribe” we will never connect with these folks, and Rabbi Lerner understands that. So does David Swanson, a pioneering progressive activist who started AfterDowingStreet.org (now warisacrime.org), and has written the highly-informative book, War Is A Lie. He recently reviewed my e-book with Joseph McCormick, Reuniting America: A Toolkit for Changing the Political Game for the Seattle Post Globe and he defines “transpartisan” as “an American interested in introducing humanity and complexity (and civics lessons) into political communications by working around the corporate media.”
Swanson continues: “For decades our televisions have taught us that only wealthy liberals care about poor people, while noble working folks care mostly about the rights and privileges of billionaires. Wisconsin shatters that crazy pretense and presents a conflict between the super wealthy who look out for the super wealthy and the rest of us who look out for the rest of us. That’s a very different division from the primarily cultural division of partisanship.”
That is a brilliant call to both sides to rise above the scam of the culture wars and recognize common self-interest. And what’s in the way of that happening?
In both of these statements, Swanson hints that the source of much of our political polarization, disinformation, misinformation and missing information is the corporate media. What would happen if awakening individuals on both sides turned off the media, tuned out the rhetoric and came together in Transpartisan circles, just as has been happening in Seattle? And what if they did so not around some pre-arranged agenda, but simply addressed the concerns that arose from those ordinary citizens present? Each side would emerge with a better understanding of how we’ve all been hoodwinked by winking hoods. Most important of all, perhaps finally a true multicultural (i.e., hippie and redneck) movement would emerge, the only force powerful enough to “higher-jack” our hijacked commonwealth.