"We have a deeply-divided body politic in America. Half the population believes our elections are broken. The other half believe they are fixed."
-- Swami Beyondananda
When I was a kid, my favorite humorist was someone you've probably never heard of, H. Allen Smith. Smith grew up in small town America in the early decades of the 20th century, back when "city slickers" came to these small towns to hustle and bilk "country rubes". One of the classic games was the old shell game where the perpetrator deftly moves a thimble or walnut shell over a pea and the "marks" have to guess which thimble the pea is under.
According to Smith, as a young child he happened upon one of these games in the town square. After observing the game for a while, young Smith blurted out: "Maybe it ain't under any of 'em."
What followed was an uncomfortable yet profound silence. The con artist swiftly packed his table and was off to the next unsuspecting town.
And the point is?
Just as surely as the innocent perception of a child was able to bust the trance of the shell game, an awakening body politic is now beginning to see through the con game called "two party politics mediated by a media determined to create lots and lots of heat, and very little light".
As we mark July 4th, Independence Day this year, maybe we should celebrate "Independents Day" as more people than ever before are declaring their independence from a two-party system where the vast majority of the American people haven't been invited to the party. Not that we aren't hit up for presents. Not a day goes by I don't get an email from the Democratic Party with an alarming headline and a piece that goes: "The Koch Brothers ... ooga booga blah blah blah, send us money!"
Since I am an equal-opportunity masochist, I'm on the conservative lists too, and those emails go: "Obama ... ooga booga blah blah blah, send us money!"
Now maybe this isn't exactly like the shell game -- more like the extortion game. It's not enough that the commonwealth is being drained of resource by the uncommonly wealthy Koch Brothers. Now their thievery is being used to steal even more money from the American people -- in the guise of fighting them. As anyone who has voted Democrat as the lesser evil will attest, you can count on the Democrats in the same way Charlie Brown could count on Lucy pulling away the football every time he tries to kick it.
However... an upwising is afoot. More and more Americans are wising up to the political sideshow as a "debate and switch" shell game, where weapons of mass-distraction are used to keep us from addressing the fundamental issue of governance -- who's in charge of who's in charge?
There are definitely signs of a "transpartisan" movement to liberate us from the partisan trance and "overgrow" the system.
A recent poll indicates that 42 percent of Americans now call themselves "independents" -- more than ever before -- with just 31 percent identifying themselves as Democrats, and a record low 25 percent as Republicans.
People are waking up literally "left and right" as progressives are looking past Hillary (whom Swami Beyondananda has described as a "Wolfowitz in Sheepowitz's clothing") to Elizabeth Warren, and Tea Partiers are likewise looking askew at corporatism.
Consider that the upstart "Brat" who defeated corporatist neocon Eric Cantor in Virginia stated that Cantor "does not represent the citizens of the 7th district, but rather large corporations seeking insider deals, crony bailouts, and constant supply of low-wage workers."
Mark my words (or, if you prefer, mock my words) there will be an "independents" movement in 2016 that will change the political landscape forever. These independents -- independent of the Democrats, the Republicans, and the corporate media who have until now defined the parameters of political conversation -- will naturally call forth the "interdependence" of progressive greens and libertarian conservatives looking to create a new alliance that finally reunites progressives and populists.
Yes, certain issues will still divide us. And... as more and more Americans recognize that "divide-and-conquer" has been used against the common people since the days of the Roman empire, the famous Patrick Henry quote, "United we stand, divided we fall" will come to represent a newly-united body politic around the issues 80 percent or 90 percent of us agree on. According to transpartisan activist Lawrence Lessig, more than 90 percent of Americans believe it's important to reduce the influence of money in politics. The same 90 percent, however, are resigned to "a corrupt status quo", believing that situation (or more accurately, shituation) won't change any time soon.
That's what the "upwising" is all about. At some point -- ideally before the 2016 elections -- a critical mass of the heretofore uncritical masses -- will wise up and rise up together to "overgrow" the current corrupt system.
As we mark the 238th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, it's important for us to look past the shortcomings of what some progressives shortsightedly dismiss as "slave-holding white guys" to honor and amplify the evolutionary radicalism of this document.
The Declaration begins, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ..."
Until that time, only kings could grant "rights" and declaring that governments derive legitimacy from "consent of the governed" would in most places be a ticket to either the dungeon or the madhouse.
And yet ... this is the document that our governance is founded on. According to the Declaration of Independence, the true sovereign in this nation is "we the people". We may finally be on the threshold of having the psychological, spiritual, and political maturity to grant ourselves the power to oversee governance - rather than "overlook" it, as we have done until now.
Faced with a system that is so rigged, so corrupt, so dysfunctional, we may finally discover the inner resources to become the citizens our Founders dreamed of. Fortunately, we now have the technological tools to communicate beyond the boundaries of the mainstream media, to aggregate in a "digital town square", to instantly measure the public's position on any issue, and to come together in constructive conversation to work together and empower a better story.
We have the wherewithal, and the next two years will be about cultivating the "aware-with-all" - and perhaps with all the awareness, we can once and for all establish government of the people, by the people, for the people where the government does OUR bidding, not the bidding of the highest bidder.
The evolution has begun, and we encourage you to join the upwising!
Follow Steve Bhaerman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/swamibe