By Steve Bhaerman
“It’s time to face the elephant – and the donkey – in the living room. Both political parties are ultimately controlled by the out-of-control power of money.”
— Swami Beyondananda
No matter which issue is closest to your heart (or, if it is particularly infuriating, your liver or spleen), EVERY political issue boils down to just one:
Who’s in charge of who’s in charge?
The founders of the United States of America addressed this issue directly in the Declaration of Independence, putting forth the profoundly radical notion that the legitimacy of government rests on the consent of the governed. Furthermore, they declared that every free individual is sovereign (i.e., has the same rights as a king) with the same natural right to thrive as the grass has to grow.
In creating the Bill of Rights and the Constitution a dozen years later, our country’s founders designed a republic (from the Latin res publica meaning “thing of the people”) as the structure that would serve as an alternative to rule by monarchy and oligarchy. However, the forces the American patriots fought in the Revolutionary War have retrenched and re-grouped. Instead of one multinational corporation (The British East India Company) backed by the power of the military, there are now many. And because these entities have access to so much wealth and resource, they have been able to overrule the rule of law. In some cases, they simply factor in any financial penalty as “the cost of doing business,” and go on perpetrating their sociopathic behavior. More often, they do the easier thing. They “invest” in government, and by paying legislators directly (why pay taxes when you can avoid the middle man and go direct?) they can simply buy new laws, or negate old ones. Oh, and when they need to, they can – thanks to the military industrial complex that really rules America — employ the U.S. military as well.
Now while some might see this as a cynical assessment, I see it as just the opposite. Cynicism is a rationalization of powerlessness, an excuse for apathy, a reason to go back to sleep. I view the stark assessment above as the first truth-telling step on the road to recovery. Despite our nation’s unique legacy, we the people have become addicted to powerlessness and dependence on a ruling elite whom we hope will trickle some wealth down onto us “pee-ons.” But, as the Swami says, “the ruling class has flunked ruling class. They get an F.”
Whether that “F” stands for freedom or fascism is up to us and no one else.
We Have A Deeply-United Body Politic
No, that’s not a misprint. While the mainstream media would have us focus on our differences, here is a very important point. Ready? Awakening individuals on all sides of the political divide – from Coffee Party progressives to Tea Party conservatives – overwhelmingly agree that our country is being turned into a third world nation by the unchecked power of money. I am not just speculating here. The work that my friend and associate Joseph McCormick has been doing in large cities and small towns has proved this again and again.
The dysfunctional function of the media has been to prevent civil discourse between the red and blue tribes. Think about it. Where, on mainstream radio or TV, can we find a real forum? All we have are “againstums.” Those who are turned off by “mass-debating” and “detestimonials,” turn off their TV, and then what? They fall back into cynicism and apathy, which further entrenches the powers in power. Or, they redouble their activist efforts on behalf of the thousands of worthy issues related to peace, personal freedom, economic justice, ecological sanity, etc., etc., etc. Each of these worthy organizations and causes are like single cell organisms competing with one another for a dwindling “food” (i.e., cash) supply.
Because this well-intentioned activism is going off in all directions at once, it is actually dissipating our energy. Go ahead. Pick the concern that is most important to you:
- Uncontrolled power of the military industrial complex, and the mind-boggling (and secret) budget for war and weaponry
- Loss of civil liberties
- Power of lobbyists to buy and own legislators
- Choices limited to two pre-selected candidates, and very limited parameters of debate and discussion
- Growing gap between rich and poor, with the middle class becoming a vanishing species
- “Health care” where individuals are forced to purchase insurance from a “company store” monopoly
- Mind-boggling regulations that can be defied by huge corporations but are costly to smaller entrepreneurs
- Clean water, clean air, clean food compromised by those who benefit from not having to clean up after themselves
- GMO foods and the monopolies like Monsanto (who want to control the world’s food supply)
- Big Pharma making selling herbs illegal in the European Union in preparation for doing the same in the USA
- Chemtrails, HAARP and other dark conspiracies that one finds going deeper down the rabbit hole
- Etc., etc., etc.
Every one of these issues – every one – boils down to just one issue: Who’s in charge of who’s in charge? Is it we, the people? Or they, the very, very few people? It’s as simple as the old maxim, “When few rule, few benefit.”
It’s Time For We the People To Gather Under One Big Intent
What is now required is a “movement of movements” or, as Swami Beyondananda would put it, “gathering all the tribes under one big intent.” Only by unity of purpose – around the core virtues and values 80% to 90% of us share in common – can we “overgrow” the current deadly, dysfunctional system. We cannot do it while separated into progressive and conservative tribes. However, by integrating the healthiest and most functional aspects of the natural impulses of growth (progressive) and protection (conservative) we can create the whole-brained, whole-hearted politics needed for massive evolutionary change.
Sound too idealistic?
Well, consider the alternative: More of the same, only worse.
At the risk of making God laugh, we (my transpartisan cohort Joseph McCormick and myself) have a plan. You can read the story of Joseph’s amazing political transformation from divider to uniter in our e-book (http://reunitingamerica.org/) and you will also discover some of the principles and practices that have proven to turn political polarities into a dynamo that leads to breakthrough conclusions and solutions.
The first step is to revise and publish a print version of our book, Reuniting America: A Manifesto for Changing the Political Game. With dual prefaces from leaders of both conservative and progressive citizens’ movements (and using their networks), we plan to proliferate the principles and practices of transpartisan engagement throughout activist networks on all sides. By massively promoting the book via networks like MoveOn.org, the Coffee Party USA, and the Freedom Coalition, we will inevitably get the attention of the mainstream media. Joseph and I will continue to convene transpartisan meet-ups and Reuniting America trainings throughout this year. Our plan is to release the book sometime after Labor Day.
That will give us a head start toward awakening a critical mass of the heretofore-uncritical masses prior to the 2012 election cycle.
Now I have to be honest here. I seem to be ahead of the curve on this one. As someone who has been immersed in political science since I was a college student, the “transpartisan upwising” seems obvious to me as the breakthrough solution to the partisan trance that has caused the debilitating “auto-immune dysfunction” in our body politic. When Joseph and I published the e-book version of Reuniting America earlier this year, we both expected to sell at least 1,000 e-books via our combined 10,000-person list and the folks on their list. We figured people would be eager to find out how we could heal the body politic rather than rub salt in our already-painful wounds.
We were wrong. We did have sales, but nothing that would indicate we are on the cusp of a great movement. Some of this could be attributed to peoples’ lack of enthusiasm about e-books. But I believe something else is operative here, and that is our collective reluctance to face the implications of “being in charge of who’s in charge.”
This reluctance is understandable. If we truly look the situation in the face, what we see is profound betrayal of trust by our leaders and our government. While it would be easier in a way to go right to righteous outrage (or pain-numbing apathy), it is extremely important to stay with the feelings of betrayal long enough for them to sink in. Acknowledging the helplessness, the hopelessness, the disheartenment is a first important step in recovering our power, not in a reactive rage but through a proactive movement.
I read something in a recent retrospective about the late Elizabeth Taylor that seems to apply here. When her close friend Rock Hudson died of AIDS in the 1980s, she was one of the first to raise consciousness and funds on behalf of that issue. When she put together the first charity dinner for AIDS – nobody came. However, she persisted and over the years ended up raising $300 million for AIDS research.
In those early days, there was a great deal of denial, shame and confusion around AIDS. It was a disease that dwelled in the shadows, and most folks were happy to keep it that way. And now, in order to address the autoimmune disease that has debilitated our body politic, we must face an even greater shadow: the perpetrations of a corporate state out of control, and our own complicity.
The only way to face this challenge is … together, beyond the boundaries of progressive and conservative, and attuned to the heart and soul of a greater truth.
One Final Note …
When Joseph McCormick embarked upon his Reuniting America mission in 2003, he had no trouble getting major foundations to fund retreats to bring together leaders of large political networks (e.g., MoveOn.org and Christian Coalition, Sierra Club and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform). However, when he turned his focus to bringing together groups of ordinary citizens from across the political spectrum three years ago, the Rockefeller Foundation and other mainstream “progressive” funders suddenly lost interest.
While bringing leaders together has been an important step (and these efforts continue), what seems to be true is that gathering “we the people” across ideological barriers to compare notes and find new ways to collaborate is far too dangerous to the powers in power.
And if we cannot count on the “kinder, gentler” elements in the corporate elite to fund us, we must fund ourselves. Even if we ended up with a publishing contract from a New York publisher, as any contemporary author knows, publishers have greatly reduced their advances and now expect authors to fund their own promotion. And while new systems such as Kickstarter offer opportunities for grassroots fund raising (which we plan to take advantage of), Joseph and I are hoping to jumpstart the Kick Start by inviting our closest supporters, friends and co-hearts to kick in even small amounts of money to support our venture. Consider that if every individual on our combined lists contributed just $5, we would have enough to carry us through to publication!
Every time I do an internal “check in,” I get the message loudly and clearly: “Yes, this is your mission now.” Joseph is likewise unshakeable in this regard. So … if you agree that changing the political game is the most important political game in town, we humbly invite you to put your money where your mouse is. Click here to go to PayPal (send money to email@example.com) and offer $5 or as much as you like.
If you wish to make a tax deductible contribution of $250 or more, or if you think you can help us find larger-ticket funders for this endeavor, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and write “Fund Raising” in the subject line.
Yours in evolutionary upwising,