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Sunday, August 30, 2009


 Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Jun 6, 2010 4:41 PM PDT

This essay is dedicated to Hugo Chavez, one guy who really knows how to plan a Party. He starts by inviting everyone to come and check out the scene, and then gets them jazzed up by playing them the tune that is music to their ears: In a democracy, everyone has equal rights and the people are taken care of and protected from the international corporate terrorists who would like nothing better than to silence the music.

His Party is so popular that no one else in Venezuela even thinks about throwing their own. As long as he stays in the groove and keeps the music lively, they have no reason to ask for a different D.J.

American politics is almost unique among the self-described democracies in that there are only two major Parties, the Demicans and the Republicrats. Both of these are like professional wrestlers, paid for by the same manager to look mean and as if they are fighting for something more important than making money for their promoters. 

These corporations were created for the purpose of making money, not to be responsible citizens or job machines. That would not be so bad if they at least did create decent jobs that provided health care and other basic necessities like a living wage, but they do not. Virtually the only jobs they create are their own and a huge number of jobs that would be unnecessary in a sane society.

In Europe and elsewhere, the model of government is Parliamentarian. Some are bicameral like the British, and some are unicameral, like the French General Assembly. The assumption in the bicameral system is that there must be an Upper and Lower House, with the Upper House representing the “natural” aristocracy and the “Lower” House the People. In a parliamentary system, there are many Parties that must form coalitions in order to make the concessions necessary to operate a government in a pluralistic society.

The American model of government is one in which it was assumed that the people who came together from the various states to fight the corporate power personified by the East India Company would continue to work together for the greater good as the new nation wrestled with the problems of any new government. 

It was the hope that the citizens of our nation would stay wary of the pitfalls of democratic government and carry out their responsibilities as watchdogs of liberty and masters of the government they had created. The great debate between liberals and conservatives of that day and age was whether the people could be trusted to be the masters of their own fate. The liberal compromise with the conservatives was that the new government must have an Upper Chamber populated by the “natural” aristocracy that was naturally composed of the favored sons of the wealthiest Americans of the time, who had the education and leisure time to run the state governments who picked the Senators representing their respective states.

Washington warned Americans to beware the rise of factionalism, but it was inevitable in such a system. With excessive power granted to small states and to a small group of wealthy men who represented their States rather than the United States once the immediate threat of annihilation by England was past, the die was set for Partisan conflict. 

The dispute was between those who believed that only a strong central government could provide for the common defense and those who feared the concentration of power in a federal government in such a system. The early conservatives were represented by Adams, who successfully prevented efforts by proto-Republicans in the Federalist Party to make war with our French allies following their bloody Revolution but did so at the cost of the first assault on the Constitution in the form of the Alien and Sedition Act.

The Alien and Sedition Act implicitly rejected Jefferson’s assertion that all men are created equal, creating different rights for citizens of other countries within our border and those who were born or naturalized within the boundaries of the granfaloon that we labeled the “United” States. It further created two classes of citizens, those who agreed with the Federalist Party and Adams himself, and those who risked jail to maintain their newly recognized freedom of speech. 

In trying to avoid war, Adams let his fear of the “mob” allow him to justify his trashing of our first rights. A similar Act was later used to imprison former Presidential candidate Eugene Debs, who threatened the power elite of his day with his calls from a national platform for equality and justice for all the people of America. The Espionage Act was of course passed during the nightmare of WWI.

The reward for Debs speaking out against the “War to End All Wars” that was in reality a clash of international corporate Titans was an imprisonment that led to his early death. It is no small irony that this crime was committed by an avowed advocate of world peace who was in fact a racist and who chose to enter a war he won re-election with a promise to stay out of, while Debs was ultimately freed by a Republican corporatist who was generally conceded to be among the worst of all American Presidents before King George IV.

All of this should serve to illustrate the fallacy of trusting one Party or one man with the power to decide our collective fates. If any Party deserves to be heard, it is a Party whose leaders refuse to accept corporate money to reach office. While this is not possible for the Presidency in this day and age, it is demonstrably possible at the level of the Senate and certainly the House of Representatives. All it takes is for the People to understand the importance of this principle and the idea that anyone willing to submit him- or herself to the inevitable corporate attack on any such promising campaign is someone who should be listened to.

It is my hope that the Parties who represent these ideals will soon come together to form a fusion Party representing the People and not the corporations. I humbly submit that my preference would be to call it the American Party. I further hope that other nations will follow this example, one which has already been set by Hugo Chavez, South America’s latter-day Bolivar.

In the words of Kool and the Gang:

Yahoo! This is your celebration.
Yahoo! This is your celebration.
Celebrate good times, come on! Let's celebrate.
Celebrate good times, come on! Let's celebrate.

There's a party goin' on right here.
A celebration to last throughout the years.
So bring your good times and your laughter too.
We gonna celebrate your party with you.

Come on now,
Let's all celebrate and have a good time.
We gonna celebrate and have a good time.

It's time to come together.
It's up to you, what's your pleasure?
Everyone around the world,
come on!

Yahoo! It's a celebration.
Celebrate good times, come on!
It's a celebration.
Celebrate good times, come on!
Let's celebrate.

We're gonna have a good time tonight.
Let's celebrate, it's all right.
We're gonna have a good time tonight.
Let's celebrate, it's all right.

We're gonna have a good time tonight. Ce-le-bra-tion.
Let's celebrate, it's all right.
We're gonna have a good time tonight. Ce-le-bra-tion.
Let's celebrate, it's all right.

Celebrate good times, come on! Let's celebrate.
Celebrate good times, come on!
It's a celebration!

Celebrate good times, come on! Let's celebrate.
Come on and celebrate, good times, tonight. Celebrate good times, come on!
'Cause everything's gonna be all right.
Let's celebrate, celebrate good times. Come on!
Let's celebrate...

Rick Staggenborg, MD

Portland, Oregon

1 comment:

  1. I wrote this essay just before the Pacific Green Party of Oregon passed a resolution rescinding my nomination for essentially being insufficiently anti-war. To my knowledge, not one Party member had looked into my work for Soldiers For Peace International despite my repeatedly mentioning it in response to my critics.

    In fairness, the vote was close and I believe that most members of the Party supported me, but the convention was packed with my opponents. I find that the episode is a perfect illustration of how most movements splinter and fail because of extremist ideology and simple pride.

    If we are to build a real progressive movement, we will have to get beyond blind loyalty to Parties that are not serious about forming the widest coalition possible, so that we have a voice in national affairs instead of forever being cast as spoilers.

    Democratic apologists like to say that we have no choice but to back their corporate tools to avoid even worse. The truth is that we are wasting our votes if we back corporatists of any Party.

    I eventually ran for the Senate on the Oregon Progressive Party ticket. I am lobbying for them to lead the way to forming a fusion Party ticket that will draw new members from all Parties. We will see how that goes.

    I am also reaching out to other Parties around the country to encourage the same and getting positive response, at least from rank and file members. With an American Party in every state, we can become a force to be reckoned with sooner than apologists of the corporate Parties would like us to think.


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