With Obama AWOL, the Evolutionary Up-Wising Must Proceed Without Him
By Steve Bhaerman
“For the past generation, the Republicans have been playing hardball … and the Democrats have been playing hardly-have-balls.”
— Swami Beyondananda
Well, what do you know? It’s happened again. The hopium has worn off, and in the sober light of morning we see that the white knight we hoped would save us (albeit a slightly darker white knight) has left us bereft. And our wallet is missing.
Progressives are bewailing the betrayal of progressive principles, but it’s worse than that. From the very first appointments – or should we say, disappointments – the Obama Administration installed more of the usual suspects instead of the unusual ones we had hoped for. The economic elites in power simply switched uniforms from red to blue. Bottom line, Obama bailed out Wall Street and bailed on Main Street.
True, the bail out was put in place by the Bush Administration. But it was given legitimacy by Obama, and in that one move Obama lost the independent voters who saw a glimmer of hope, a possibility that the unmitigated rule by the power of money could be counterbalanced, if not overcome.
He coulda been a contender. Instead, Obama took an apparent dive – and a bought us all a one-way ticket to palookaville. As to the “why,” take your choice. There is a really excellent article in the September, 2010 Vanity Fair that attributes Obama’s plight to a “broken Washington.” It’s a pretty inside-the-matrix analysis, but it’s valuable in showing the relationship between the American Devolution and the influence of money. In 2009, the article says, lobbyists spent $3.5 billion to leverage legislation. As an indication of how things have changed in just one “degeneration,” here is a quote from the article: “In the 1974 congressional elections, total spending on Senate and House races came to only $77 million. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, by 2008 the figure was $1.36 billion, with lobbyists providing a significant amount.”
In other words, Congressional campaigns cost seventeen times as much as they did 35 years ago. No wonder the Democrats have devolved into “Republican Lite.” They have felt obliged to follow the money instead of lead the conversation. As Ralph Nader wrote recently, “… the Democrats do not have a progressive philosophy.”
Other analyses are less forgiving, and portray Barack Obama as a Manchurian candidate riding the Trojan horse of “change” into the White House. A fact sheet distributed by St. Pete for Peace offers as much evidence as anyone needs to indicate that Obama’s prime allegiance is not to we the people but to the corporate state.
So … who or what is the real Obama? Is he an Aquarian visionary hamstrung by a dysfunctional system, or an inside player whose purpose all along was to low-jack progressivism on behalf of the corporate state?
And the answer is … it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter because nothing could, would or will change without an independent political movement of “we the people.” Even Obama hinted at that during his campaign, telling the American people, “It’s about you.”
And now, nearly two years after the election, and more than a year-and-a-half since the inauguration, there is no independent citizens movement. We have the same third and fourth parties limping along, and the truth is we don’t need a new third party in America.
We need a new first party.
To have that, we must give up hopium, and end the dope addiction (i.e., our addiction to electing dopes who don’t really represent our true interests) that has so severely weakened the body politic that we the people have become a non-factor in governance, diverted from the real issues by bipolar politics and a media side-show.
Here is my declaration, prayer and intention:
May the 2010 mid-term election be the last bullshit election held in America.
May it be the last election, where “mosque-debating” obfuscates the real issues of who’s in charge, and who’s in charge of who’s in charge.
May it be the last election where people’s hard-earned money – not to mention the hardly-earned money spent by the economic elites – is used to perpetrate lies, distortions and manipulative misinformation.
May it be the last election where the mainstream corporate media calls the shots of what gets covered.
May it be the last election where only money talks, and where “free speech” is free – unless of course, you want it to be broadcast widely, in which case it costs lots and lots of money.
And the Good News Is…?
There is good news, folks … but only if WE make it.
So, how do we begin? And with less than two months before the elections, what do we do? Do we suck it up and support the Democratic Party? Do we stay home? Do we continue lamenting and complaining? Or do we do something that will unequivocally make an impact?
In other words, how do we “become” the news in such a short amount of time? And how do we do it without having a well-funded “organized” movement?
Presenting … the Nobama Campaign!
Here is an amazing statistic. In 2008, the Obama campaign collected half a billion dollars in small contributions from people like you and me.
Whatever Obama has or hasn’t done, WE are still here. Whether or not he represents the values of “government of, by and for the people where the government does our bidding, not the bidding of the highest bidder,” WE still hold that stand.
And “we” is not just progressives, by the way. In the most contentious and divisive time in our political history, the vast majority of Americans on both sides of the political divide agree on one thing: We the people have been disenfranchised.
So the question is, how do we re-enfranchise ourselves? How do we build a movement? And what do we do right now?
First, let’s talk about what we don’t do.
We don’t stay home on Election Day, and we don’t “punish” the Democrats by allowing the Republicans to regain even a single seat. In our “two-potty” system, we have the Abuser Party and the Enabler Party. The courageous and effective move is to stand up to the abusers, and give the enablers something more nourishing to enable.
Yes, there are stirrings of discontent among the conservative populace, but make no mistake. The Tea Party movement is more pugilist than populist, mobilizing anger against the wrong enemy, while being generously funded by corporate lobbyists.
The Republican Party itself – and the misleaders who will be calling the shots should they regain control of one or both Houses of Congress – unabashedly stand for the unmitigated power of money über alles. A vote for them – even a vote by not voting – proves that their campaign of lies and bullying has worked. It proves that indeed, money CAN buy everything. It proves that if you lie big enough, you can undermine even the most obvious truth.
(As an aside, this past Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle ran an article on How Democrats, Republicans Compare on producing positive results on the economy and family values. You may find the results surprising, although they shouldn’t be.)
Re-Heartening the Body Politic, and Building Muscle at the Same Time
In the face of this disheartening reality, we must re-hearten ourselves by telling the truth: We are engaged in a two-front campaign. On one hand, we have the shameless Republicans, and on the other, the spineless Democrats. The election of Obama nearly two years ago was the first stirrings of an awakening body politic, recognizing that first and foremost we had to expose and confront the tyranny of rule of, by and for the power of money. We now recognize beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Democrats are merely the OTHER corporate party, the one designed to provide “a final resting place for progressive votes.”
But again, what do we do? Well, the Democrats have been using us for at least a generation, and now we must use them. Given the binary system we have right now, where it is either this or that – and we have neither designed nor developed an effective third way – the most helpful way for us to assert our unity is by simultaneously depriving the Democratic Party … and voting for their candidates.
We must let the world – and ourselves – know that we aren’t being fooled or discouraged by the mealy-mouths for hire by the corporate right, and that more than ever we stand for a “democratic” party, one that does not yet exist. Just as we did two years ago, we must collectively and substantially repudiate the rule of THE #1 corporate party, and in doing so affirm that, Obama or Nobama, the evolutionary upwising is here.
The day after Election Day, we want the pundits to be confounded and the world to know that the majority of Americans buy the idea of “we’re all in this together,” and that the Republicans are history, and Democrats are next.
How will the world know this?
Because we will tell them.
Because we will withhold contributions to the Democratic Party, and send our contributions instead to the Progressive Democrats of America, MoveOn.org and other grassroots organizations that will work for Democratic candidates, and at the same time fund and build infrastructure for grassroots activism. The people who contributed in 2008, who worked their asses off for Obama, who held meet-ups, who joined a grassroots team, they – we – are still here.
There is a reason why the Republicans fear and seek to discredit “community organizing.” It’s because community – particularly an organized community – is the only antidote to political and economic exploitation. It is darkly hilarious that Newt Gingrich’s recent attack against Barack Obama was to say that he secretly had a “Kenyan, anti-colonial worldview.”
This statement reveals more about Gingrich and his cohorts than about Obama, and it tells us how successful the “stupidization” program has been. I mean – duh – weren’t our Founding Fathers who started a revolution to overthrow the oppressive economic tyranny of the British Empire (and the foremost multinational corporation of their day, the British East India Company), weren’t they … anti-colonial????
So here is one of the foremost Republican “thinkers” declaring his allegiance to colonialism. And that brings us to a heartening truth. America’s founders were “progressive.” They moved forward a completely new idea that our sovereignty arose from the grassroots up, rather than something bestowed by a benevolent monarch. While there were counterbalancing conservative elements in the Revolution – Adams and Hamilton, to name just two – their conservatism was in the service of bringing about a new order.
This is pretty much how life expresses progressive and conservative impulses. Life is fundamentally progressive … evolution moves forward through novelty, and expands in every direction. This is called “growth.” Life is also conservative, as new life requires protection. An egg requires a shell. However, for a chicken to hatch, the shell must break, the protective structure must yield.
The structure the “conservatives” have in place today (I use quote marks here because real conservatives like Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Barry Goldwater would flip in their crypts if they saw the present day toxic distortion of their legacy) is designed to protect the predator. And they’re telling us that right to our faces!
The Tea Party rank and file, they sense something is amiss. But they have been intentionally sent down the wrong trail. If we are fortunate, they will destroy the Republican Party from the inside out, as they choose candidates that will not have widespread appeal outside the “converted.”
This is where we come in. Instead of staying home, discouraged, we must renew our courage and vote, vote, vote. While I am working to bring about “political climate change” and help create a transpartisan “third wave” in America, I am – like America’s founders – unabashedly progressive. While the Tea Partiers declare their intention to “take America back,” we must invite them to join us in taking America forward.
While there is little we can do to make fundamental change in our bipolar system in just eight weeks, we can declare what this election is about:
Colonialism vs. Anti-Colonialism.
The economic elites have re-colonized America, turning us into what amounts to a third world nation, with a shrinking middle class, foreclosed homes, and very little genuine political power. Once again, the Republicans are the perpetrators … and the Democrats the enablers.
We simply need to gather around this one idea, and for once, speak as one. The world will know we have spoken when we turn out overwhelmingly for the election to say YES to government of the people, and not the very, very few people. And in supporting grassroots organizations instead of the corporate party, we will be sending a message: We aren’t fooled by either political party, and we are taking them on strategically, one at a time.
Those of you who have been reading my stuff for a while may remember this story. It bears repeating. Years ago, I was enjoying playing volleyball at a picnic. Someone brought a cute little Shelty dog along, and being a natural herding dog, time and time again she would herd all the children onto the volleyball court and disrupt our game. After a while, the dog’s behavior stopped being cute, and I had an idea. “Next time she herds those kids onto the court,” I suggested, “let’s all as one turn and chase HER.”
Sure enough, next time she did, we did. Eighteen volleyball players, all with the same focused intent, in pursuit of that poor herding dog. From time to time, she would look back in confusion, thinking – I’m imagining – “this is un-herd of!”
But she never herded kids onto our field again.
69.5 million of us cast our ballots for Obama in 2008, and we managed to aggregate half a billion dollars in small change. Well, we got the small change.
If we want the big change, we must act like the Big Dog that we are.
We the awakening body politic must use this last insanely bipolar election where we have been offered the choice of tweedle-dweeb and tweedle-dumb, to chase the worst of the abusers off the field, and shoot right past the pathetic Democrats … and claim the field for the Home Team.
Swami Beyondananda answers your unasked questions about Obama, and channels the late Richie Valens to do it. See it here.