FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

A Party of Transcendence

As we think about the election — what went wrong, what’s been unleashed and what we should do about it — please, please, let us expand our vision beyond some technical fix or updated “message.”

Even if we’re talking about the Democratic Party.

James Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute and a longtime member of the Democratic National Committee, discussing the Bernie Sanders phenomenon and the future direction of the party, wrote recently: “Many rank and file Democrats had lost confidence in their establishment and were looking for an authentic message that spoke to their needs.”

He was making the case for a progressive takeover of the party and the naming of Keith Ellison as DNC chair. As I read his commentary, however, even though I essentially agreed with him, I couldn’t get past the word “authentic” — especially linked as it was to the word “message,” which made it sound like the Democrat leadership needs to search its soul and come up with a better ad slogan.

And this is American politics — American democracy — as presented for our entertainment and distraction by the corporate media and the custodians of power. “The people” are acknowledged to be participants in the process of governing, which is to say, the process of creating the future, only to the extent that they have a set of limited, specific interests the powerful have to look out for. Jobs, for instance. Or protection from the enemy of the moment.

What the Democrats need to do is become a party of transcendence. That may be too much to ask of a political party, but I’m asking it anyway — asking the Dem leadership to open themselves to something bigger than mere change, something that one might call, instead, a shift in consciousness: beyond racism, beyond war, beyond exploitative capitalism . . . beyond militarism and a punishment-based justice system, beyond alienation from nature and the circle of life.

What if?

What if, for instance, the Democratic leadership joined former congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich in standing with Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War, as they stood with the protesters at Standing Rock, acting as human shields and rewriting history?

“On December 5 — the birthday of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, who led the Battle of Little Bighorn against Lakota and Cheyenne warriors — (Wes Clark Jr.) and a dozen members of United States military branches got down on bended knee to beg forgiveness from the Lakota people,” according to a story posted at New American Media.

“In the presence of hundreds of veterans and Lakota medicine people, elders and leaders, Clark donned the uniform of the Seventh Cavalry and spoke of the history of his unit. With tears in his eyes, Clark said:

“‘Many of us, me particularly, are from the units that have hurt you over the many years. We came. We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your sacred mountain. . . . We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness.’”

In an open letter to the vets, Kucinich wrote: “Your presence holds the promise of bringing about a great healing as you join a movement which is prayerful, peaceful and nonviolent, the enduring strength of great moral suasion.

“I urge you to stand as defenders and not aggressors.”

I realize I’m pushing the limits of cynicism, to suggest that the Democratic Party drop to its knee and seek atonement for American history: for genocide, slavery, endless war. But why ask less of our political system? Why ask less of democracy?

People looking for an “authentic message” may also resonate with a Democratic Party that stood for an end to global weapons sales and endless war. As Rebecca Gordon wrote recently at Common Dreams:

“Along with a deeply divided country, the worst income inequality since at least the 1920s, and a crumbling infrastructure, Trump will inherit a 15-year-old, apparently never-ending worldwide war. While the named enemy may be a mere emotion (‘terror’) or an incendiary strategy (‘terrorism’), the victims couldn’t be more real, and as in all modern wars, the majority of them are civilians.

“On how many countries is U.S. ordnance falling at the moment? Some put the total at six; others, seven. For the record, those seven would be Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and, oh yes, Yemen.”

We’re either waging or catering wars across the Middle East and Africa — wars against evil, according to that former president whose name is never mentioned these days. The Democrats were not the party in power at the time the current, post-Cold War phase of our endless wars started, but the Dems accepted these wars as their own in 2009 and proceeded to perpetuate them.

Politics as usual will not rescue Planet Earth. Angry idealists and visionaries will not rescue it either. The only hope is a merging of power and vision: transcendent politics, you might say. This is the “authentic message” people are looking for. Maybe it’s impossible — way too unacceptable to the financial interests that underwrite the American political system. But it could have beaten Donald Trump.

More articles by:

Robert Koehler is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.

March 25, 2019
Jonathan Cook
Three Lessons for the Left from the Mueller Inquiry
Dave Lindorff
The TSA’s Role as Journalist Harasser and Media ‘Watchdog’
Tanya Golash-Boza – Michael Golash
Epifanio Camacho: a Militant Farmworker Brushed Out of History
Robert Fisk
Don’t Believe the Hype: Here’s Why ISIS Hasn’t Been Defeated
Jack Rasmus
The Capitulation of Jerome Powell and the Fed
Lawrence Davidson
Israel’s Moves to the Right
John Feffer
After Trump
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9/11
Dean Baker
The Importance of Kicking Up: Changing Market Structures So the Rich Don’t Get All the Money
Lawrence Wittner
What Democratic Socialism Is and Is Not
Thomas Knapp
Suppressing Discussion Doesn’t Solve the Problem. It is the Problem.
Stephen Cooper
“I’m a Nine-Star General Now”: an Interview with Black Uhuru’s Duckie Simpson
Andrew Moss
Immigration and the Democratic Hopefuls
Weekend Edition
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
Peter Mayo
US Higher Education Influence Takes a Different Turn
Martha Rosenberg
New Study Confirms That Eggs are a Stroke in a Shell
Ted Rall
The Greatest Projects I Never Mad
George Wuerthner
Saving the Big Wild: Why Aren’t More Conservationists Supporting NREPA?
Norman Solomon
Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for President
Ralph Nader
Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs
Tracey L. Rogers
White Supremacy is a Global Threat
Nyla Ali Khan
Intersectionalities of Gender and Politics in Indian-Administered Kashmir
Karen J. Greenberg
Citizenship in the Age of Trump: Death by a Thousand Cuts
Jill Richardson
Getting It Right on What Stuff Costs
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail