Summary - What are we trying to accomplish?
We are at a juncture where the pendulum of The American Way of Life has swung to the end of its arc on one side. The side in question is the one that defines us as hyper-competitive (aggressive), brash (heedless), greedy (self-centered), and unaware (naïve). Call it “doom and gloom” if you like, but our debt is unsustainable, our industrial base is degraded, our middle class is becoming impoverished, our foreign reputation is diminished, our environment is compromised, and our army is severely strained.
Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Rome, Ghenghis Khan’s Mongols, the Ottoman Turks, and the British Empire have experienced a similar swing. All of them experienced the return swing, too, in which retribution for imperial hubris was meted out. Call it Karma, call it Justice, call it Universal Truth. There is no historical exception, and the U.S.A. will not be the first to avoid it. Unless….
We can – and should – point to the steps that we are taking to alleviate these problems. Wind- and solar-generated electricity projects; state regulations and programs that focus on pollution control; the rise of referenda and citizens’ initiatives; and a growing political awareness are all positive signs and steps. The problem is that they are insufficient by a wide margin. The positive steps do not effectively address neo-imperialism, pre-emptive war, corporate control of U.S. politics, “rendition” and torture, lack of health-care coverage and of low-income housing, and issues of energy source and use.
In our particular case, American (U.S.) Exceptionalism has powered the pendulum to a level that is rarely seen in history. And this Exceptionalism is based on an historical truth. We are the progeny and beneficiaries of a group – a small group – of democratic revolutionaries. They did not solve all problems, nor did they perceive all situations. They did study, debate, write, fight for, and create a profoundly new political approach to the social contract. We have their documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States of America, and various polemical and analytical papers, which still inform and inspire us – and many others around the world – more than two hundered years later.
Unfortunately, exceptionalism coupled with relative isolation, plus historical accidents, was conflated into a myth of American Destiny. Moreover, as many commentators and historians have demonstrated, this conflation disregarded many undemocratic episodes, to put it euphemistically. So here we are – world events are poised to punish the perpetrators; but, as usual, the innocent will suffer much more than the guilty. Why? Because the guilty have a lot of money, plus control of a lot of nuclear weapons.
Who are the guilty? Much of the rest of the world will point at you and I, as much as at the Bushes and the rest of the super-rich. The best that I can say in response is that we have the opportunity to prove to the ROW, as well as to ourselves, that the truly guilty are only the super-rich. The way to prove that is to disavow and to dismember the policies of our ruling class and to implement programs and policies that re-establish the best parts of our somewhat mythical exceptionalism. It is time for some idealism again.
I thought that I would say something about reasserting our moral leadership, but there are two things wrong with that sentiment. First, most of our historical military adventures – foreign and domestic – have not been moral in any meaningful sense. Second, at the present time I think that the U.S. would do well to avoid asserting anything. Basically, we should shut our mouths for awhile, until our actions and accomplishments in the world may speak well of and for us again. To simply tell the truth at the level of national government would be a refreshing change for everyone.
The preceding position papers have tried to build an outline of the most salient potential solutions to the most egregious problems. In my opinion it will take the full program to create the basis for a truly humane and successful society, but I think that we can agree that any substantial movement in the directions outlined will improve the situation significantly.
However, there are some steps that are imperative: withdrawal of military forces from Iraq; reduction of the military budget; regulation of multi-national corporations; full inspection of freight from all foreign sources; increase in the tax burden of the rich; decrease in the use of fossil fuels in the U.S.A.; decrease in the cost of health-care, plus universal health-care insurance coverage; elimination of the federal component of the “war on drugs”; and a compromise solution to the immigration situation.
Why do I not include the public transportation component, the solar-based electrical generation piece, the equal rights section, or the pollution-reduction part in the “imperatives”? Because these segments are all in various stages of strong development, whether on a local or state level – and even at the federal level. Of course, it would accelerate the processes if these movements could be underwritten on a national scale. But – in the short run we have so much to salvage and repair that we have to husband our resources. These items are moving in the right directions – let us focus on the “over my dead body” elements – the “imperatives” – of the program first.
Why have I not included the socialist themes or the universal public service program or a wide-scale affordable housing construction project in the “imperatives”? Because these parts are nearly impossible without longer-term education of the citizenry, plus a political consolidation process. The POTUS can talk about these ideas; the administration should propose legislation; a party affiliated with this campaign could publicize these programs. In the short run, though, these ideas will neither be accepted by the 111th Congress, nor will they be permitted by the present Supreme Court.
So, strategically, the present tasks are to support all of the programs listed that Congress might approve, to unilaterally cut programs and budget items that serve the ruling class almost exclusively, and to publicize the advantages of the listed programs that Congress will not approve.
Beyond that obvious approach, there is the much more problematic level of tactics. To disrupt or cut programs that Congress authorizes, as discussed in Position Paper # 9, involves withholding funds. Of course, the first step will be to veto bills; but the 111th Congress will be overwhelmingly opposed to such cuts and will easily override vetoes. The next step will be to literally withhold funds from the targetted programs.
This will provoke litigation at various levels, including the Supreme Court, where Congress will claim that the U.S. Constitution specifies that they authorize the budget and that the POTUS “… will faithfully execute the laws…”. As we all should know, there is plenty of historical precedent for presidents to instigate this type of non-compliance, and that will serve as one basis for counter-argument. Moreover, litigation will mean delays. Delays will serve the purpose of cutting funds, unless certain types of injunctions are sustained by the courts to maintain, say, current levels of funding for various programs. OK – you see what I am proposing – it will be a complicated dance, but the upshot is that we can wreak some havoc in the military-industrial-financial corporate complex. Unfortunately, this havoc will primarily affect the working people involved, including the “professional” staff, since the executive management and ownership class are thorougly prepared for such a siege.
This will cause an increase in the economic and social problems that we are already experiencing. In such a battle, preparation on our side – the “We, the people” side – will be the key to success. If we are not ready to scale back on comfort and convenience; if we do not have reserves of food, energy, and good will; if we do not immediately support one another; we will find ourselves confronted by more than the vituperation of the Mainstream Media, more than a few paid demonstrators in Washington, D.C. We will face widespread disruptions, riots, lock-outs, foreclosures – and assassinations.
So – I say to you – if you support the elements of this campaign, you must be prepared for the battle that will erupt. I tell you that, if elected, I will not back down. I will promote the programs that will cause this confrontation. Be warned and be aware: a vote for me will be a serious commitment on your part, too.
If you’re in, then the challenge is to develop and expand the growing political awareness in this country into a movement that will take the better elements of our national character for our charter, that will plan and prepare for political victory, that will plan and prepare for emergencies, and that can quickly build a new system.
“When in the course of human events, …” These words were written at a time when another George – a product of dynasty, occasionally deranged and essentially narcissistic – held the peoples of North America in low esteem. That George and his administration exploited our ancestors with the careless impunity of a ruling class that was manor-born and God-anointed. History cycles on, and we have reached another juncture in which an aristocracy is ascendant, led – in a great irony – by another George who is the son of a George.
In the particulars of the Declaration of Independence there are many parallel complaints to those of our current situation. However, we should seek to reform our government, rather than separate from it. To separate is to help the super-rich aristocracy to consolidate control over a deadly, inhumane machine. We owe it to ourselves, and to our fellow human beings, to stop the depradations of this plutocracy and to reconstruct the United States of America into the country that we idealized in our youth. “We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union…”. It is time to rededicate ourselves to that process.
20 September 2007
Summary - What are we trying to accomplish?
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