The mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few, booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately by the grace of God.
America is a failed state. We mean by that, the Republican form of government has failed. Representative Democracy has failed. The People do not have the power of self-governance, by proxy, over their own affairs. People vote for representatives, but the representative represents the money power; the corporate monolith and aristocratic entrenchment. Politicians show how the system works, that they do represent their constituents, by bringing home some pork from the bacon trough, but nothing more.
So what do we do?
When in 1898 General William Rufus Shafter said, “Why these people are no more fit for self-government than gunpowder is for hell,” he was talking about the Cubans, but it might have been said by David Rockefeller today about humanity. And note the date; America lost its soul a very long time ago. First we deprive others of their liberty, while we say we’re liberating them (and that has been our SOP for more than a century), and now our liberties are being laid waste by a corporate/military apparatus which proves Orwell not only a great intellectual, but the greatest prophet of the 20th Century. Freedom is Slavery.
If you’re a holdout and still believe in hope and change and making a better world for people through the use of our tragically flawed two-party system, then, really, knock yourself out. Join up with Accountability Now, co-founded by the great Glenn Greenwald. They are organizing to make primary challenges against Democrats (and Republicans) who vote against the interests of the people. It’s the only way, if you still want change within the current system, to make any dent in the sausage from hell called The Congress of the United States of America. Patriotism isn’t the last refuge, but Congress is the last refuge of scoundrels. So the strategy to replace as many of them as possible with good citizens makes a lot of sense. It will be a slow slog but it’s the best opportunity for change in the short-term. The slog will be slow because you’re working within a failed system. The game is ginned and insurrection against the establishment is met with fierce resistance. But what other choice do we have, short of physical insurrection?
As for me, after the final embarrassing blow of Obama as just another in a long line of two-faced jerk-offs, it’s time for another approach. The complete capitulation of the political class to the money class to the detriment of the citizenry, when the political class in power got there for their promises to change the imbalance between the money power and the people, is a brutal betrayal and the end of citizen compliance to unrepresentative government.
We’ve got to change the form of our government to one which allows a modicum of direct democracy. And short of a couch potato rebellion by Prozac Nation, we’ve got to empower ourselves under the rule of law. While our political class has failed us and works daily to erode our rights under the law, our Constitution is still the law of the land (until they use whatever excuse they can to “suspend” it) and it is our means to liberty.
Because, it’s going to take a Constitutional Amendment to achieve the power of a National Referendum to augment or thwart our current failed system and give the People a direct voice, a real power in our own governance. There is no reason to “fight” for healthcare reform – why do we have to fight for something we all want and by rights is ours to have if we want? There is no reason to fight for peace – the people have no voice in what is considered our National Security. That power is in the hands of the axis of evil between the Military, Corporations and Politicians. Why bother with clean air, water and food? Regulation is bad for business and since the business of America is not its People but business itself and since business owns the political system, what is the chance for change, especially when the great American change agent is nothing but another American Exceptionalist fighting for the right of the global corporate elite to plunder and pillage down to the last drop of human spirit?
Obama talks a good game, but he has no game.
So, I take some inspiration from the great Naomi Wolf in her wonderful resource of resistance, Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries. She has seven core values to rally around she describes as Principles. They are:
Principle One: We are required to speak freely.
Principle Two: We have a duty to rebel continually against injustice and oppression.
Principle Three: Ordinary people are supposed to run things.
Principle Four: Americans cherish the rule of law.
Principle Five: America establishes no God.
Principle Six: Americans deliberate with their neighbors; we disagree without violence.
Principle Seven: Liberty is universal; America cannot maintain an oppressive empire.
But it is this third principle, that ordinary people like you and me are supposed to run things – Okay, maybe not me, but certainly, you – which strikes the right chord. Because our governance is now out of our hands and placed into the hands of experts, technocrats, bureaucrats, efficiency planners and organizational engineers. Corporatism is hierarchy which is anathema to democracy. We’ve got to stop talking a good game and get ourselves one.
We should not diminish what the American Revolution was about and what it meant to the world and how it changed the course of humanity.
“The core ideal of the revolutionary era was that ordinary people in America – those who were enfranchised – could become agents of change,” writes Wolf. Certainly not everyone was enfranchised in America, particularly slaves and women, but more men than ever were enfranchised in America, and the spirit of autonomy, equality and freedom to pursue one’s “happiness” fueled a fire which eventually did away with millennia old bloodline aristocracy, power by birthright, and established something akin a to meritocracy – each man was entitled to raise himself to whatever level his abilities could carry him.
As Historian Gordon S. Wood explains in his The Radicalism of the American Revolution:
To focus, as we are apt today to do, on what the Revolution did not accomplish – highlighting and lamenting its failure to abolish slavery and change fundamentally the lot of women – is to miss the great significance of what it did accomplish; indeed, the Revolution made possible the anti-slavery and women’s rights movements of the nineteenth century and in fact all our current egalitarian thinking.
The Revolution not only radically changed the personal and social relationships of people, including the position of women, but also destroyed aristocracy as it had been understood in the Western world for at least two millennia. The Revolution did not just eliminate monarchy and create republics; it actually reconstituted what Americans meant by public or state power and brought an entirely new kind of democratic office holder.
Most importantly, it made the interests and prosperity of ordinary people the goal of society and government… In short, the Revolution was the most radical and most far-reaching event in American history.
Simply, it was the idea of government by citizenship. But that idea is gone; today we have government by entrenched bureaucrat in service to what is basically a system of commerce which principles can be summed up as “Business is King.” We are back to royal monarchy of pyramid scheme economics with the People at the bottom of the pyramid.
So, Naomi floats the idea:
We have to face the fact that there is no alternative to a real confrontation by ordinary citizens of a thoroughly corrupt system.
The solution? We must secure legislation to drive a national referendum system. Is this impossible? We would need to amend the Constitution to so do – particularly as Zach Heiden of the Maine Civil Liberties Union notes, “The presentment clause and the guarantee clause, which are (to put it mildly) significant provisions. The Constitution can be amended – everything except for the guarantee of equal sufferage in the Senate is open to change – but it has only been amended 26 times in over two hundred years, so this is not something that could happen overnight.”
As daunting as that sounds, I would argue that, given the reality of this, a drive for this nature of amendment could happen with far greater momentum and speed than the laborious fights of the past: the combination of voter rage and the technology of the Internet could create a tidal wave of demand for this reform.
I agree. And like all big ideas, there are difficulties and dangers to surmount. But the benefit is too great not to try in the face of our creep toward dystopian totalitarianism.
To be continued…