Phi Beta Iota: This is a website, an effort to further a movement that has not been successful to date, and a very intelligent article by a very experienced agitator for change (and former Army Ranger who has also been homeless on multiple occasions, each time rising like a Phoenix).
by Steve Bhaerman on November 30th, 2010
My sense is the chorus of leading voices calling for bi-partisanship will become deafening in the days ahead (and I’ve learned to mistrust such orchestration.) The real issue is not bridging red and blue, its bridging insider and outsider. Another way of saying it, in the words of conservative movement leader Grover Norquist, is “bipartisanship is when the Republicans and Democrats get together to screw the people.” If the game is now unquestionable rigged in favor of those who control the institutions (i.e. set up “the rules of the game”), the question is how do We, the people, create an alternative game that shifts the balance of power.
The old social contract in America, and governance in general as we inherited it from Europe, is that citizens are essentially children (i.e. voters, spectators, complainers) and there is a politcal, business, financial, religious elite who, since they have the most institutional investment, are the most capable of governing. I call this Father Knows Best. The best and the brighest govern while the children watch, comment, argue or disengage, but remain far from the table where the real decisions are made.
As the American people are wising up and growing up in the face of multiple interlocking crisis (financial, environmental, health, security, etc.) they are going to want to take charge of the wheel of this ship. This could look like a revolutionary uprising i.e. the multi-partisan outsiders overthrowing the bi-partisan insiders, or it could look like “a transpartisan evolutionary upwising.”
The breakdown of the old system is already beginning to inspire serious citizens to invent a new game, a game where the people take responsibility for authentically governing themselves and for holding insiders accountable to “doing their bidding rather than the bidding of the highest bidder.” This new game — being prototyped by citizens from all political sides in Seattle, WA – could begin with a new institution of citizenship similar to the 19th Century populist movement where, at its peak, 10% of the country met each market day in “Chautauquas” and Grange Halls and did their own citizen legislating. But because there was so many of them, and because they we of all politcal stripes — they even welcomed black people at a time when this was taboo — they had authority. Not official authority, but unofficial authority, moral authority, some would say, soft power. Politicians and power holders came to them.
The key is that this emerging neo-populist movement — that I call a transpartisan movement — not become a third party. I feel the worst thing we could do is to create a third party that horse trades for power with the bipolar biopoly i.e. the big boys. Strategically that is precisely what the “game controllers” want and can control. Alternatively, my feeling is a strategic withdrawal (i.e. a Ghandian strategy) is ultimately what will cause the game controllers to come to the table — i.e. come to the people’s meetings — to have an adult conversation about “who’s in charge of whose in charge”.
This emerging, transpartisan neo-populist movement will take many forms and will certainly have a self-organized, leaderless quality that can’t be controlled. My intention right now, however, is simply to raise the awareness that the old guard is savvy and strategic. They read the tea leaves of popular unrest and they have already thought through and are prepared with “their solution”. Don’t you think its time adult citizens from MoveOn.org to Tea Party Express and everyone in between who all see the same out of control bi-partisan corporate-state begin to compare notes, educate each other, and begin creating a new game that makes the old divide and conquer one obsolete?