As I reflect on the wasteland of what remains of our democracy and the human toll that has been taken by the chain of events on our national stage going back to the administration of George H. Bush, followed by the decimation of a financial system that had served this country extremely well, all at the hands of William Jefferson Clinton and his unholy alliance with some of the most notorious and skilled white-collar bandits of our time, I am awe struck by how fragile and fluid the foundation is when evil is tolerated, legitimized and becomes the norm.
Clinton is what he is. Nothing will ever change that and no amount of effort to remake the man will make him any more respectable. His record stands. However, in the lead up to the spoils of 2008 by the charming and mesmerizing personality of Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and his happy band of thieves rose from the ashes and gave the Obama administration all of their experience and dubious successes, self-serving and otherwise. President Obama has become just as disingenuous as his mentor. The same rogues were imported from the Clinton camp directly into the administration of Barack Obama. And what did we get for it? We got more of the same from President Obama at the expense of the health and welfare of this nation, and at significant cost to the people. We are the victims and the rogues remain the profiteers.
When, I ask you, are we going to say “enough is enough,” and it is time to restore our national commitment to a deep-seated sense of morality, honesty and integrity that is the hallmark of what we are as a people. Ill-gotten wealth and the power it nurtures do not make those who covet it any more respectable than they have always been. They are what they are and that is just an inescapable fact of life.
I doubt that time is on the side of virtue for this country and all who believe in what it stands for. We must get serious, stop the process of redefining the merits of wrong and how irrelevant good is to us all. Wishing will not make it so, and a cultivated and perverted regard for everything material and pleasurable does not change a thing. We remain what we have become and what we are. At the end of the day, the most precious and valuable among us are the human beings that are the backbone of this democracy. They are what it is all about. This country belongs to all of us; not just to those who have led us to believe that somehow they are superior and their sense of entitlement and privilege trumps our common membership in the club of mankind. That is not what the Founding Fathers foresaw and it is not what today, tomorrow and the future should be.
I happen to believe that the terms we use when we speak of morality, honesty, decency, integrity, and all the other forms of nomenclature we attach to our finer angels is a language of the absolute. They are not to be twisted and redefined in order for those who seek our demise to invoke in order to appear to be acting on behalf of the interests of us all. It is time to stop according them the dubious respect and authority they claim, and to start calling them out for all they have been, all that they are and all they are destined to become.
Every institution of our federal government is no longer there to primarily serve the people of this country and to work for our common welfare. Rather, they are there to serve the oligarchs, the plutocrats and all of those who have managed to delude themselves and to seduce us into believing they are, indeed, the superior among us and whatever they deem is theirs and what little is ours is, somehow, akin to Divine Will. Now I ask you, how can any sane and rational mind buy into all of that nonsense? If we are to be the people we are intended to be, we must cast off all the forms of manipulation and mind control they so skillfully use to further tighten the noose around our necks and cast us into the dungeons of irrelevance by their insatiable greed and avarice. It can and must be done, and soon. It has to be done within the framework of the law and the bounds of decency. But it won’t be easy. It will take a lot of determination and an iron-clad will, but it can happen if we manifest the will to make it happen.
What we euphemistically refer to as a “government of the people” is, in reality no longer a democratic government. It is a club of exclusivity that has laid claim to all this country is and which, rightfully, belongs to all of us. We have a two-party system that has managed to elevate themselves to positions that were the purview of kings and emperors in days gone by. We have become the serfs who live in a complacent state while they decide the ration of crumbs they will throw our way in order to keep us quiet and obedient. Is that the mettle of an American? I think not.
The time has come to call on those few but noble and courageous leaders who, also, believe that the time has come to restore this nation to all its people; “One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” It has to be an effort with the avowed purpose of restoring our government and all it represents to the will of the people who are the governed. It will require a renewed commitment to egalitarian principles with no special privileges and entitlements that are not shared by all of us.
We need an independent citizens’ commission for good government that has no ties to those who currently serve in government. It has to be clearly in the hands of citizens who have the talent to organize such an endeavor, and that is clearly an instrument of all the people of this country. For it to be anything less simply compromises the fundamental premise of what it is all about.
Let’s stop belaboring what we have been led to think we are. Rather, let us look it squarely in the eye, call it out for what it is and do something about it. We have an abundance of some of the greatest minds and thinkers to be found on earth. I have no doubt that most of them would respond to such a call and, moreover, would give their hearts and souls to seeing it through to the end.
- Economists: We are awash in some of the best economists in the world. We routinely see and listen to many of them on a regular basis. There is Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz and the experience and wisdom of Robert Reich to name just a few.
- Legal minds and Constitutional Lawyers: Jonathan Turley and Glen Greenwald, for starters.
- Investigative Journalists and watchdogs on government in the persons of David Cay Johnston and William K. Black, both with a long history of standing on the side of what is right and in what is in the best interests of the common man.
- Matt Taibbi, Chris Hedges and a whole cadre of those who regularly write for various contemporary publications are a wealth of insights into what our reality is, what it should be, and what we have to do in order to make it our reality.
- Bill Moyers and the staff around him are all well versed and committed to the principles on which this country was created and what needs to be done in order to recover from this respite in darkness.
- Then, of course, there are those who serve in government and whose service is based on the finest ideals that should underscore the efforts of all those who genuinely believe in the concept of service that we revere and which we have every right to expect.
- There is no point in my belaboring this further. Suffice to say there are many superior minds and more notable people than I who could, and would, provide all the skills, experience and knowledge such a commission would require.
I believe our system of government is so compromised that any semblance of what we have vs. what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers is, at best, coincidental. Rather, I see a system that is rigged in favor, not of those who have a desire to give of themselves, but largely comprised of those who seek to indulge themselves from the treasures that belong to us all. They must and need to be stopped from their plunder and the gross misuse of power they flaunt for their own ends.
It is time to abandon the notion that ours is a two-party system. That is nothing but a ruse for keeping exclusive control of our government in the hands of the Republicans, Democrats and the mutations within each. There is absolutely no reason why legitimate political parties who have a genuine interest in actively participating in government should not be accorded the means to do so. It should begin with an open invitation to all those who seek the highest office in the land to have equal time on the stage at all presidential debates. There should be no exclusive club of just two from which to choose. Further, representatives of all of those parties should be invited to participate in the activities of any commission that might be created along the lines I have proposed.
The Office of the President: It has all the earmarks of a reigning monarch with far too much exclusive and discretionary power than is reasonable. Those who serve on the White House Staff should be there for the knowledge and experience they carry with them, rather than the political clout and influence they may offer.
The Senate and House of Representatives: The air of superiority and the absolutely vulgar display of compensation and perks they have garnered for themselves at the expense of the taxpayers gives them the aura of a privileged few who are, in the final analysis, there to serve themselves, not to serve the rest of us. Their compensation and perquisites should be determined by a vote of the people, not at their own discretion. Further, they should work full time. That is why they are where they are! Contrary to what we have come to believe, they are not imperial. They perform all of the same basic functions we do and, I suspect, in the same manner.
The Supreme Court: Say what you will, but the “Court” has come to represent the elite among us and it plays to that constituency. They engage as much in litigation as they do in adjudication, if you ask me. They, too, should be elected by popular vote of the people, with only the appointment of the Chief Justice determined by the President. I think their sense of superiority has inflicted far more harm on this country than has accrued to our benefit. In the final analysis, it is the common people who should determine issues such as the status of corporations and other organized forms of self aggrandizement; not those who are destined to become their benefactors and “colleagues.”
The Press & News Media: I think it was made perfectly clear by the framers of the Constitution that there should be “a free and unfettered press.” My notion of that term means the press should be independently owned and its sole purpose should be to serve as the watchdog for the people on the institutions of government. Nowhere can I find any indication that it was to be owned by corporate institutions of commerce, government or any other organized form of business and commerce. I think it is time for us to revisit the “intent” and “wisdom” of the Founding Fathers and restore real independence to every aspect and brand of anything that could remotely and reasonably be classified as a member of an independent press.
Some of the specifics that I believe should be inherent within our institutions of government and should be universally applied to each member are:
- Term limits
- Public financing of political campaigns
- Salaries and perquisites that must be universally applied to members and must be ratified by a majority of the voters from the district of each office holder.
- Gifts and gratuitous favors should not be allowed.
- There must not be as much as the appearance of a conflict-of-interest or a self-serving practice on the part of any office holder bound by these requirements.
I sincerely believe that the only way we can restore any semblance of what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers is to have a citizens’ commission that is organized and operated independently from any alliance other than to that of the common people who comprise the population of this country. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a cadre of people out there who have the will, the means and the desire to restore this country to the true democracy it was intended to be. It can and should be done with all due haste before we have nothing left but a landscape of ruin, ashes and hopelessness.
The work of such a commission must, obviously, be transparent and operate exclusively in the light of day. It must have the support of the people and it must clearly be devoted to carrying out the will of the people. It cannot have the slightest appearance of exclusivity. There is no shame in being common. If anything, that is a long-forgotten virtue. The essence of what it is all about must be rooted in what serves the many, not the few. Most importantly, its work and its conclusions must be clearly rooted in the intent of the Founding Fathers who laid the groundwork for all this nation should be, not for what it has become.
In the final analysis, its work must be published for all to see and its work must be ratified by the common people who will live by what it accomplishes. If its advocates do not serve the public interest, then their participation should be suspect and their role in this endeavor should be re-evaluated.
In conclusion, I believe a cardinal rule regarding business and commerce, in particular, is “if it is essential to the public interest, then it must be publicly owned by and accountable to the people.” That is not, nor should it be, the stuff of the oligarchs, plutocrats and ruthlessly ambitious among us. All they have done, and continue to due, may be the stuff of those who see themselves above the rest of us, but if it does not serve the common good, it is by definition suspect. Nothing is sacred that does not serve all of us. We live in perilous times and we live on a planet in peril. This is not to be taken lightly and no few should denigrate or dismiss the will of the majority. Time is no longer on our side.
Let us join in a common commitment to, once again, give new life to and full support for the principle that we are “A government of the people, by the people and for the people.” We must hold tenaciously to that belief and protect it with our very lives.
Cowboy Bob The Sagebrush Philosopher October 7, 2013