Massachusetts Calling

Harnessing Independents' Anger and Disillusionment to Form a Second (i.e., Non-corporate) Party

I just called the Jack Rice radio show on Air America. Rice’s show is new to the D.C. area, so I got through the phone vetting process fairly easily. I waited a minute or two and then Rice took my call on air.

I was pretty clear about what I wanted to say. Rice had actually set things up the day before when he said that their likely defeat in the Massachusetts race for the Senate seat vacated by Ted Kennedy’s death would—hopefully!—cause Congressional Democrats to “grow a pair,” withdraw the health care reform bill as is, and then re-submit the much stronger bill that the majority of Americans were hoping for when they voted for Obama a year ago.

“Grow a pair”? Dems in the millionaires’ club of the US Senate are going to “grow a pair”? (And, in deference to the ladies, doesn’t he really mean, “get some spine”? I don’t think there’s any doubt about which part of the human anatomy he’s talking.) Rice was speculating aloud that the reason Martha Coakley was ebbing in the polls and Scott Brown was surging was her failure to connect! He trotted out the old saw: Democrats run lousy campaigns, but they govern well; Republicans run great campaigns, but they govern poorly.

Apparently, Obama’s campaign of ’07-’08 got flushed down Rice’s memory hole. According to Rice, who characterizes himself as “a Liberal, not a Democrat” at least once a day, voters connect to candidates who can draw the “big picture.” Candidates lose voters when they try to talk about policies and details. I interpret: Our eyes glaze over unless the ad, the pitch, is coming at us in digestible five-minute spurts. Obama spelling out the details on how he was going to get us out of Iraq (and NOT get us deeper into Afghanistan), or exactly how his health care reform bill was going to pass unscathed by a hostile, obstructionist minority in the Senate—rich with the promise of campaign funding underwritten by insurance and pharmaceutical companies—that Obama could have easily lost the 09 election. But, Obama spouting “change” and “hope”–the Obama of soaring rhetoric and comfortable cliches, well-groomed and corporate looking: that Obama was sure to win.

Martha Coakley was surely not in the mode. She couldn’t “connect” to the people.

My father used to call that kind of talk “bullsh*t for the birds” (minus the asterisk!) I tried to call-in during the day that Rice was spouting these inanities, the day before the Mass election (pardon the pun, but let’s hold Mass now, you good Kennedy Libs!) I wanted to say that the likelihood of Dems growing “backbone” (my word), suddenly transforming into a party for the people, withdrawing the slipshod health care reform bill and standing firm behind a health care bill with teeth and nails and claws was about as likely as a Wall Street tycoon donating a couple of hundred million of his ill-gotten rip-off money to help desperate strangers in Haiti—or anywhere else!

But I called too late yesterday and the vetter told me to call earlier next time.

So, today I called early into the show. I just managed to get my main point out. I said something like this: the Massachusetts vote was not about the Dems being defeated because they needed to change their game plan and simplify the message (“simplify” as Scott Brown had done!) No, the Mass vote was/is another expression of anger against our system as is—against the status quo. In ’07 and ’08, Obama was able to tap into that anger with his hyper-cliches. Now the Repubs are doing the same. Same boiling and over-boiling anger—different target.

Then I hit Rice with my clincher: We the People (you know, like in the Constitution) need to harness that energy and anger and create a second party—you know, as in non-Republicratic, non-corporate. Rice cut me off. (I imagine he did a slice-across-the-neck gesture in the studio.) I turned up my radio and heard him announce, “I completely disagree with you, Gary” (thanks, Jack!). He spouted the usual malarkey about how a third party—remember, I didn’t say “third” party; I said “second, non-corporate, non-Republicratic—couldn’t make it in America because we didn’t have a parliamentary system, we have a winner-take-all system (might that not be a good reason, I wondered, to think about changing that system into something more … er… democratic?). Rice went on to explain, somewhat befuddlingly, that even if a “third party” managed to get “14%” (why, I wondered, “14”%? Why not a plurality at least?)—even if it garnered 14% of the popular vote, it would not get 14% of the Senate, and blah, blah, blah.

So, forget all the hype about democracy and representational government. It seems we’re stuck with the Tweedle Party—Dum and Dee, that is (or Dumb and Dumber).

Rice is probably a decent enough sort. I’d probably drink a beer with him. (I’d probably drink a beer with George W. Bush, too—as the saying goes—but I’d like to throw the beer in his face—as in one of those good old movies!—The Caine Mutiny—for example. (I’d do it for all the sh*t he has made the world eat–pay homage here to poet e.e. cummings: “There is some sh*t I will not eat!” Omit the asterisks).

Can these radio jockeys really believe half of what they say? They serve the system that butters their croissants. They are the corporate media, they are the Republicratic party—two sides of the same coin—the tarnished coin, the cheapened, sinking coin of this realm.

Independents are now the majority in America—not Republicans, not Democrats. When we wake to our real power, we can change this world.

Poet-playwright-journalist-fictionist-editor-professor, Dr. Gary Corseri has published work in Dissident Voice, The New York Times, Village Voice, CommonDreams and hundreds of other publications and websites worldwide. His dramas have been produced on PBS-Atlanta, and he has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library. Gary can be reached at Read other articles by Gary.

12 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on January 21st, 2010 at 9:42am #

    Garry, i think u are the second journalist who suggested u have there a second party. Even ?all commenters stay away from saying it.
    As we know, canada has second party, the New Democrat Party. Federally, we get ab 20% of votes.
    which is not enough to prevent our own aggressions; the other nominally two parties always being bellicose.
    like in us, canadian history is much sanitized. That means we are never wrong when waging wars; so, the war parties get elected.tnx

  2. Don Hawkins said on January 21st, 2010 at 3:20pm #

    Gary am watching Glenn Beck right now and he just said in so many words Obama is a revolutionary and want’s to burn the constitution. Then I though to myself as strangeness spreads through out the land. Wait he just said the arrogance of this administration is astounding. Such a foolish human. To make a try the survival of the human race will not be easy and probably a good idea to use the knowledge we have gained with reason and work together. So far is that happening no not even close. It looks like about twenty years for the real changes that will make life very difficult to say the least and the plan so far is go shopping.

  3. lichen said on January 21st, 2010 at 4:24pm #

    No, unless we start a movement for election reform first, a “third party” will never succeed at doing anything except turn it’s members/adherents into jaded, nowhere people. Further, the senate race in question had about 2/3rds mainstream right wing republicans and corporate money, and 1/3 independant, so harvesting that energy would get you nowhere.

  4. joed said on January 21st, 2010 at 6:12pm #

    what you need to do is grow a pear and then step out to the street and stop the traffic on the freeway and shut down your neighborhood.
    sacrifice and hardship are the only things that will make a change. nonviolent civildisobedience is the only thing that will change things.
    some people will have to be hurt physically and go to jail but it is the only way now!
    get this wonderful dvd and make your friends watch it. it’s the only way.

  5. dan e said on January 21st, 2010 at 6:36pm #

    January 20, 2010
    The Results Are in: Massachusetts Chooses Tweedledum over Tweedledee!

  6. Danny Ray said on January 21st, 2010 at 6:59pm #

    Dan E, Thanks for the link , interesting artical.

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain said on January 22nd, 2010 at 1:40am #

    As we know, in the USA, the candidate that spends the most money almost invariably wins, the more handsome, taller, hirsute, and glibly mendacious is favoured overwhelmingly and incumbency is a gigantic advantage. Donations from the rich elite dominate (50% coming from Jews, 60% in the case of Republicans, illustrating why and how they run the benighted land) and this situation is about to worsen after the latest, insane, decision of the Supreme Court.
    The sad fact is that the US public has been moronified and zombiefied by generations of ruthless indoctrination by its remorseless ruling class and the effects of a toxic diet that clogs the synapses as surely as it piles on the adipose. Moreover US mass culture has been progressively degraded,relying more and more on sexual and violent pornography to make a buck.As a result when faced with the deliberate destruction of their standard of living over the last few decades by the infinitely avaricious parasite elite, they do not possess the intellectual equipment to understand the true nature of their predicament. They are easily manipulated by psychopathic Rightwing authoritarian demagogues, like the evil bedlam of FoxNews. Their anger is diverted into psychotic rage at Islam, minorities, the poor, and a host of daemon figures like Chavez and Ahmadinejad. While social provision, infrastructure and public services crumble, and will collapse further as the debt crisis runs its pre-ordained, carefully contrived, course, the USA still spends one trillion a year to terrorise, intimidate and destroy the rest of the planet.
    Thanks to the twin goals of controlling Middle East hydrocarbons and slavishly serving Israel in its goal of establishing Eretz Yisrael over the bodies of dead children, the US is now enmired in an openly religious war against Islam. The only conclusion acceptable to the Christian Zionist loonies and their Judaic comrades is the total subjugation of Islam, and the establishment of an archipelago of brutal, compliant,despotisms along the Egypt, Jordan,West Bank model. Control of the hydrocarbons is essential to the US Reich’s prime goal for the next few decades, the de-railing of China’s rise. This is particularly essential for the Zionists, behind so much anti-Chinese agitation as they are behind so much Islamophobic propaganda. There is no way they can expect to control China the way they control the West, and to lose their divinely ordained global empire so soon after they achieved it would be an insult to their limitless sense of superiority to the rest of humanity.
    I expect that the US, as its economy crumbles, and social distress grows, to quickly become openly fascist. It’s not much of a journey, actually, as the system is a sort of post-modern fascism, ‘friendly fascism’ as they say (although becoming less friendly every day,save for the elite) at home, and full-blown, genocidal, fascism in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. I think Haiti points the way.I’d say that within a year that Haiti will, of course, remain unrepaired, occupied by a brutal US expeditionary force, and an insurgency will be raging. Somehow ‘al Qaeda’ or Cuba or Chavez will be blamed, and the populace will be crushed even more brutally than before. Unfortunately runaway climate change will produce social collapse everywhere, which the Pentagon has long planned for, its response, as one could have expected, to be brutal incursions to secure valuable resources and pitilessly exterminate any who dare resist from amongst the populations no longer of any use or interest to the Masters. Things will, I imagine, fall apart rather quickly, but people like the Haitians, living in utter deprivation thanks entirely to US malevolence over decades, have nothing left to loose.

  8. Don Hawkins said on January 22nd, 2010 at 3:12am #

    Zombiefied I looked that word up a new word and Mulga tonight on Fox New’s Glenn Beck will have a documentary one hour film. He said it’s about the truth the knowledge that has been forgotten and if you have small children don’t let them watch. You can’t make this kind of stuff up in the age of reason.

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain said on January 22nd, 2010 at 4:03am #

    Ah, Don, I’m afraid the US passed beyond The Age of Reason some time ago. The Age of Spectacle,of invented reality, of willingly suspension of disbelief, of pathopsychological projection as the modus operandi of everyday life, of paranoia and the longing for death, for the surcease of sorrow, but ‘reason’, no more. Think of ecological denialism, hyper-patriotism to a system whose rulers despise you, of ‘faith-based science’, of Creationism, of magical thinking where the scientific method of rational inquiry has been replaced by the incessant invocation of a priori determined conclusions, fixed and axiomatic, the evidence for the veracity of which is then simply invented. Your country is rapidly regressing to the Age of Witches and Satanic Possession, true enough of the Tea Party rabble, but certain to be projected on the sane and rational in the old displacement of evil spirits fashion so popular amongst primitive, superstitious, tribes. Rule by a lynch-mob of idiots too stupid to appreciate just how dumb they are, thus habitually over-estimating their nouse and imagining themselves geniuses, and all possessed of a vote! Already you can see the denialist cretins, both in blogs in your country, and here, where there is a similar, hectic, inflamed, hysterical mob abroad, goaded into greater and greater lunacy by another branch of Rupert Moloch’s Empire of Evil,urging criminal prosecutions against climate scientists (for telling the truth!) or, on the psychopathic extreme (but still considered worthy of publication) for lynching ’em. Don, methinks that the jig is definitely up.

  10. Gary Corseri said on January 22nd, 2010 at 9:58am #

    Thanks, all, for the comments. Mulga, I especially liked your learned and passionate comments here. We are agreed in the particulars you cite. Actually, I believe things will get worse before they get … a lot worse!

    The Supreme Court’s decision yesterday to toss out 100 years of restraints on the corporate funding of political campaigns merely tied the bow on the gifts of the people’s freedoms which our government has awarded its corporate sponsors. Add to the causes around which a non-corporate party can organize: IMPEACH THE SUPREME COURT FIVE!

    But, I also wonder, with you, if it’s not too late–if we haven’t been dumbed-down and narcotized so much by greasy, salty, sugary, canned food and the mass media equivalent of it; by the destruction of the extended, and now nuclear, family; the evisceration of union/organized labor power; our culture of celebrity, inanity and cupidity–so as to make resistance, as the sexy cyborg on Star Trek used to put it, “futile”? It’s a battle within oneself–and without. …

    I know, too–that way madness lies! Resistance to oppression, repression, suppression and plain old injustice is life-affirming–and inevitable in those who have struggled to know; struggled, too, to retain the empathy that defines humanity.

    To get a sense of where our Corporate Empire is tending, I recommend Ray Kurzweil’s “The Singlarity Is Near.” Inventor and science-writer, Kurzweil is wildly enthusiastic about the overlapping revolutions in genetics, nano-technology and robotics. He concentrates on those three, especially; also makes much of new media technologies and how “virtual” reality will overtake “real” reality. (The success of 3-D spectacular, “Avatar” is but a single harbinger of the 24-7 sort of world we’re spinning towards.) Celebrated by Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, Kurzweil extols the “facts” that we’ll all live healthy lives to 150, have robots doing our personal chores–and most of our thinking!–,wars will be small, quick, tidy and efficacious, and … well, you get the picture.

    This is the hyper-controlled, “orderly,” segmented, fractured, hierarchical, depersonalized state of being of about 20 years hence when the “singularity”–the explosive acceleration of change to a point we cannot now conceive–will have been achieved. These are their goals. These are their dark visions.

    I don’t know if we can stop this train. We can’t just blow up the tracks–a la Lawrence of Arabia fighting the Turks–because so many of us are on it–so many innocents, too! I do think that greater and greater awareness of our plight–building on history, humankind’s cultures, science tempered with morality … well, a tall order, a very tall order … perhaps we can save something worth saving in the human heart and mind. Huxley and Orwell both saw the dystopias in different forms. We are destined, it seems, to know both–to taste the poisoned meat.

    I thank you for your awareness–perhaps the saving grace of our species. Solomon put it well: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, with all thy getting, get thee understanding.” We need to recall Sun Tzu as well: “Know your enemy and not yourself–100 battles, 50 victories. Know yourself, but not your enemy–100 battles, 50 victories. Know your enemy and know yourself–100 battles, 100 victories.” There’s more to it than that, as Sun Tzu tells us in his book of strategies and tactics. But a good touchstone to keep in mind!

  11. lichen said on January 22nd, 2010 at 3:07pm #

    I find it really telling that you praise the ignorant ramblings of Mulga, who does not live in the US and has probably never been here, but wishes to insult people who live many thousands of miles away whom she has never met despite that. She is, also, a supporter of facism herself, being completely against the proven system of direct democracy which shows that, indeed, people are neither so lost nor beyond reason and compassion. But indeed, stoop to her level and forget about doing the real work to bring democracy to the US.

  12. Angela said on January 22nd, 2010 at 9:50pm #

    Gary: I knew Mass was going to vote republican. I knew Moakley would lose badly because one thing you do not do is take your constituents for granted. I read True Compass by Edward Kennedy and how he defended his state. Independents and progressives have long known that neither party is going to represent the people. Many of use hoped that Obama might be a shining light and we handed him not only the presidency but the government and haled him on with “change we can believe in”. To our regret he fit into Washington big time. The republican party had taken our government to the brink of failure, but the democrats have shown themselves as total idiots, fighting with each other like children, making deals beyond our backs, embarrassing the American people who still want to believe in our country. We hate both parties, we need to come up with PEOPLE who represent us. Unfortunately since the Supreme Court Ruling yesterday we best come up with some good ideas very soon. I do not agree with Mulga or your compliments to her. She is saying what Americans are faulted for with “putting us all in the same basket”. Comments like her’s will never bring peace to the world. Whatever country she is from I hope she is seeing coverage of Haiti and the Haitian people. They are remarkable people, showing such courage and hope for survival and yet praising God and helping each other. Maybe the world needs to be more like them, stop hating and praise your God in whatever way you want, stop hating people who believe in a different God and talk about courage and survival of our world!