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December 20, 2007

Politics Inside and Outside the Matrix Revisited

By Steve Bhaerman

Disempowerment and disillusionment seem to be the two concurrent emotional states of disheartened progressives these days. However, disillusionment -- the shattering of illusory hope in favor of a realistic and positive focus for action -- is the source of genuine empowerment. The most empowering thought is this: There's nobody to do it but us. We are the leaders we've been waiting for.


How You Can Choose the Greater of Two Goods

Disempowerment and disillusionment. Those seem to be the two concurrent emotional states of disheartened progressives these days. However, as we will see, the disillusionment -- the release of illusory hope in favor of a realistic and positive focus for action -- is the source of genuine empowerment.

When the mainstream media is finally held accountable for its role in the American devolution (or, if you will, “devil-ution”), the highest crime will be “willful failure to contextualize.” Fortunately, the dots are being connected so that the Democrats’ roll-over act and the media’s stonewalling of truth becomes understandable.

Let’s begin with this column from Robert Scheer week that offers an intriguing clue about the missing CIA interrogation tapes. While initially, the issue might seem to be that the CIA doesn’t want Americans to see what they do in the privacy of rendition camps, Scheer suggests something more insidious: The CIA and the Administration don’t want Americans to know what these interrogations yielded about what really happened on 9/11.

Says Scheer, “When the CIA destroyed those prisoner interrogation videotapes, was it also destroying the truth about 9/11? After all, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, the basic narrative of what happened on that day—and the definition of the enemy in this war on terror that George W. Bush launched in response to the tragedy—comes from the CIA’s account of what those prisoners told their torturers. The commission was never allowed to interview the prisoners, or speak with those who did, and was instead forced to rely on what the CIA was willing to relay.“

Regardless of whether you’re a conspiracy theorist who suspects our government had something to do with the 9/11 attacks or merely a “coincidence theorist” marveling at what an amazing coincidence it was that our government was conducting a simulated airplane attack the very moment the terrorists were perpetrating their real one, one thing seems undeniable: Even if 9/11 wasn’t the Bush Administration’s Reichstag fire, it was sure used that way.

If we permit ourselves to suspect that something dark and devastating is being hidden, then we must face two disturbing conclusions:

1. A regime capable of perpetrating or allowing an attack on its own civilians is capable of doing the same or worse again.

2. The need for secrecy is even more understandable, and we begin to see that the quest for truth in any form threatens the survival of the Bush Administration, and anyone who has enabled their abuse of power.

So, if we disabuse ourselves of any illusion, and come from the understanding -- as I suggested last week -- that their greatest weapon is fear and their greatest fear is the truth, we the people hold far, far more power than we could have imagined. If we don’t buy the fear and we don’t buy their story, we create the field for the truth to be told. If we continue the helpless lament of powerlessness, that too will become the self-fulfilling prophecy. The greatest and most evolutionary task we face this coming year is to invite our fellow citizens to step outside the political matrix and stand for the core values that 90% or more of us share. If we do this, we have a good chance to retake our country and offer the world an inspiring example.

The Greater of Two Goods

At the same time we step outside the matrix of the puppet show of electoral politics, we must operate inside as well and exercise the power we do have. First of all, we must remember that “nobody” won the past two Presidential elections. In each case, just over 50% of Americans qualified to vote did so. This means that George Bush was elected by about 25% of American voters. Apparently, so many people have been so disheartened by electoral politics that they’ve just given up. How convenient for the powers in power. Less work for them. Our disheartenment feeds their abusive power. They eat it for lunch.

So ... the first step in taking our country back is making sure that you and anyone else you know who is working or praying for a better world take the simple step and register to vote, and plan to vote in the primaries. Since way fewer people vote in the primaries than the regular election, each vote can count as much as six votes!

Here are the main reasons to register to vote THIS WEEK if you are not yet registered, and make plans to vote in the primaries in your state:

1. Increased registration will signal the awakened will of we the people. This signal will make it less dangerous for those in high places who have not been “ethically-cleansed” to blow the whistle.

2. Increased registration will empower “the greater of two goods” in each party. (More about that below.)

3. Increased registration will empower a third party possibility, should that become necessary.

4. Increased registration will make it more difficult to cheat, intimidate and otherwise fix elections.

We’ve been so used to resigning ourselves to the lesser evil in our binary, “this-or-that” electoral system, that it’s easy to miss the opportunity staring us in the face to choose the greater of two goods.

Huh? How’s that? There are “goods”? And there are two of them??

Absolutely. The best good is this: People who identify with the blue tribe Democrats and the red tribe Republicans are waking up “left and right,” and realizing we the people have been hoodwinked. Those of us who have awakened now have the opportunity to leverage that awakening in either party. That means disempowering the neoconservatives and the neoliberals who continue to support the failed and dangerous notion of American empire.

On the right, we have the awakening of real conservatives to the betrayal by the neocons, best expressed by the Ron Paul candidacy. In this process, more and more Americans are being awakened to the foundational flaws in our debt-based economic system. Interestingly, active military personnel have made more donations to Ron Paul than any other candidate. Meanwhile, 60% of military families now oppose George Bush’s Iraq policies, and this indicates two things to me. First, those on the front lines see themselves more and more as mere pawns and targets. Secondly, those with a little more vision and perspective are coming to understand that they are risking life and limb not to protect the American people, but to protect a predatory empire.

For those concerned that fundamentalist Christians have flocked to support the Ron Paul campaign, it’s important to realize that reporting about evangelicals -- just like reporting about peace activists -- is intentionally distorted to reinforce the we-they polarization. For example, did you know that Rick Warren (The Purpose Driven Life), whose megachurch is where others go to learn to create megachurches, has personally distanced himself from the religious right and now says the purpose of influence is to speak for those who have none? Nor has it been widely publicized that he and other evangelicals have embraced the cause of ending world poverty. So one “good” choice is to register as a Republican and vote for Ron Paul in the primaries. As I’ve said earlier, the Ron Paul people don’t “know” they can’t win. Consequently, they might.

But, okay. What if you’re so imbued with “blue” values that you cannot conceive of crossing over? You still have a choice that’s as easy as A,B,C -- anybody but Clinton. Your first logical choice is to vote for Dennis Kucinich, the only Democratic candidate still on the radar that has properly contextualized the Iraq war and the war on terror as wars to preserve a failing empire and inflict repression at home. He also is the only candidate with a real health care plan. Take a look at the pathetic and senseless “health care” plans of any of the other candidates, and see that they resonate with as much truth as the phrase “compassionate conservative.” All have three tragic flaws:

1. They fail to provide single-payer universal health care that serves we the people.

2. They place the burden on businesses to pay for the rising costs, and try to leverage individuals to buy coverage. Essentially, they are subsidizing the medical and insurance industries.

3. They fail to address the other fundamental problem with our health care system, that it is intervention-heavy and prevention-light. As with every other neoliberal policy, the same corporate forces are subsidized, only with the veneer of fairness.

The primary primary choice on the Democratic side is to give the Democratic Party (mis)leadership the clear signal that the public sees through the neoliberal ruse of merely “softening” the impact of empire on we the people. The first step is to make sure Hillary gets as small a percentage as possible. (My next Notes will deal with the “woman’s issue” in much more detail.) If Kucinich seems like too much of a long shot, vote for John Edwards. He seems to have the best grasp of the top three contenders of “we the people” vs. “they-the-very-few-people.” He also seems to fare the best against any and all Republicans.

For those of us who understand that transformational politics must access the “heart core” values of we the people, the Obama-Oprah campaign has some heartening elements. Obama may yet rise to leadership of a genuine movement. But for now, his handlers seem to have moved in and he may be the fallback guy for the Democratic Central Committee in case Hillary falters. It would be easy for him -- as still considered young and upcoming -- to take the VP slot behind Hillary. So ... and you may disagree ... I say the best candidate to support on this side, other than Kucinich, is Edwards.

The important thing is this, and I am going to emphasize it once again because it is so important. If you have ever expressed concern about the direction this country has been going in, if you abhor the way money drowns out every functional voice in politics, in how the media is complicit, etc., etc. AND you are not registered to vote and / or do not plan to vote in the primaries than you have resigned yourself to powerlessness. Only 7.9% of those qualified voted in the primaries in 2004. Consider that if just another 8% of qualified voters voted, and they are those who really do seek change, they could have a huge impact. Find out how to register, find out when the primaries are, make sure you’ll either be there or have an absentee ballot. Enroll all your friends who share your concern about the state of the country and state of the world. As the Swami has said, “An enrolling stone gathers no remorse!”

The challenge / opportunity we face may be most profound in human history. We are either on the cusp of an evolutionary “up-wising,” or our entire species may be on the verge of flunking third dimension. This is no time to be a bystander.

Give the Gift of Laughter

For a selection of Swami Beyondanada CD's, DVD's, and books, all of which make excellent gifts, please use this link. https://bear.he.net/~wakeupl/epistore/

Submitters Website: http://www.wakeuplaughing.com/

Submitters Bio:

Steve Bhaerman is a writer, humorist and uncommontator who's been posing as cosmic comic Swami Beyondananda for the past 20 years. He is the author of seven books including Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future and a Way to Get There From Here, co-written with Bruce Lipton. He has been an OpEd News contributor since 2006.