| by Roger Copple
( June 30, 2014, Boston, Sri Lanka Guardian ) This article is not specifically about the exploited working class, the disappearing middle class, or the still-controlling ruling class. Instead, it is about describing how local, state, and the national governments can be improved, preferably under a new national constitution. It is not just about government; it expresses my worldview on several topics.
Some hardcore pragmatists and realists think it is foolish to contemplate ideas that may take 100 years to implement. But to idealists--visualizing the actual goal or dream is what energizes us. In the first half of this long article (I apologize), I identify some of the major political and religious groups in the United States; and then, in the second half, I propose a fair system that levels the political playing field among these diverse groups.
One political group consists of the paleoconservatives; many of its adherents may not even use this term to describe themselves. Like our founding fathers who said our nation should not get entangled in the affairs of foreign governments, paleoconsevatives are Republicans who are against the interventionist foreign policy of the neoconservative Republicans. Neoconservatives believe that our government has a right, even a moral obligation, to police the world. Though Republicans and Democrats have well-known, definable differences regarding taxes, general spending, and social policies, many individuals from both parties favor a neoconservative foreign policy. The neoliberal foreign policy of Democrats is roughly the same as the neoconservative foreign policy of Republicans. Both are imperialistic. It’s okay for the United States to intervene in the affairs of other sovereign nations, they reason, because we’re the “good” guys.
For those who view the world as a place where dog eats dog, the neoconservatives are right. But Buddhists, yogis, Christian mystics, non-radical Muslims, and other peace-practicing groups would say that, if we take the initiative in showing compassion and benevolence, other individuals and nations will reciprocate with corresponding sentiments, sooner or later. Love conquers all.
Paleoconservatives are socially conservative, so they are less likely to support gay and abortion rights and the legalization of marijuana. They may be concerned about things like genetically modified foods that currently do not have to be labeled, and they are usually against putting more restrictions on gun owners.
Paleoconservatives are quick to argue that our government is a republic with guaranteed individual rights, and it is not a democracy, they say. They will inform you that the word “democracy” is not in the constitution because our founding fathers feared the “mob rule” of a democracy. democracy, or rule by the majority, is what you have when two foxes and a chicken decide what’s for dinner. Paleoconservatives will argue that our constitution was not meant to be a “living” document that changes with the times. They fear a democracy that can take away their God-given rights if it is the decision of the majority.
The Libertarians are another political group. They are socially liberal, but economically they are conservative. They are more likely to support gay and abortion rights, and the legalization of recreational drugs. But economically, they are apt to recommend laissez-faire capitalism. They want a small government with the fewest number of government regulations. Libertarians may want the liberty to become millionaires and billionaires through the free market. Libertarians oppose crony capitalism, which occurs when there is a collusion of private companies that get subsidies and special benefits from the government. Libertarians are also against the interventionist foreign policy of the Neoconservatives.
Fundamentalist and evangelical Christians are two religious groups that are combined as one group here. The fundamentalist churches interpret the Bible in the most literal way, even more so than the evangelical churches do. But both have a pre-seventeenth century, or pre-Enlightenment Age, viewpoint of the Bible—believing in a fiery, eternal hell for the lost who refuse to take Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They believe that abortion in most cases, and homosexuality, are sinful practices. Evolution is wrong, because it contradicts the first few chapters in the Book of Genesis.
The problem that pastors often have is that if they tell their congregation everything they learned in seminary (that is, if it was a liberal seminary) about the latest scientific research on the Bible, many of the lay people would stop attending and go somewhere else for reassurance, if their entrenched beliefs were challenged. For many people it is, or was, difficult to face the truth and give up certain childhood Christian beliefs. But even after the initial shock and inner turmoil that results when Christians learn what scientific Bible scholars say about the Bible, self-identifying Christians can still grow spiritually: They can become better citizens with broader political views when they stop believing that their religion is the one and only way.
For example, given the way most conservative Christians interpret the Bible, Israel plays an important role in the events leading up to the so-called Battle of Armageddon, the Rapture, and the Second Coming of Jesus. For this reason, conservative Christians often reflexively support Zionism and military assistance to Israel.
The Tea Party movement is primarily concerned about deficit spending. Every year that our government spends more money than it earns from tax revenues, it creates an annual deficit. Since our government has borrowed and spent more money than it has earned year after year, it has caused our national debt to skyrocket out of control. This is why Tea Partiers want to reduce government spending and taxes, even though many people might benefit if the government spent money to create jobs that are unavailable in the private sector. Of course, we could easily balance the budget every year if we dramatically reduced military spending.
According to www.WarResisters.org/pages/piechart.htm , 36% of the federal budget goes to the current military, and18% for past military spending, making a total of 54% of the federal budget spent on the military (and this does not include the $200 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan war spending). Reducing military spending is not an option for many Tea Partiers since many of them believe that a very strong military should be a top priority. Before he died, foreign policy expert Chalmers Johnson said that about 30 percent of military spending is secretive, unknown even to members of Congress.
Based on the history of our military and the covert operations of the CIA since the end of World War II, according to foreign policy expert William Blum, the American people would be appalled and ashamed (or at least they should be) if they learned the details about how our government has coerced other countries over the years. In the past, we believed we had to stop the sinister and exaggerated “international communist conspiracy.” Now the new bogeyman is “the war on terrorism.”
As a result, socialism or communism, since it first began in Russia in 1917, has never been allowed to rise or fall on its own merits because our government has had the power to undermine it in extremely unfair ways—using disinformation, sabotage, torture, assassination, election tampering, whatever it takes, whenever it, or a semblance of it, erupts in some remote corner of the world. This is your taxes at work! Now we know that it was not just the Russians who were getting a lot of propaganda during the cold war. We Americans were too, maybe even more. Totalitarian socialism is not true socialism, which can only be implemented through a democratic process. Perhaps the former Soviet Union, China, and North Vietnam would have become less totalitarian if they had not been so viciously attacked and undermined by the United States.
Another group, which I personally endorse, consists of the New Age movement. New Agers often talk about the importance of making a paradigm shift in consciousness. That is, they believe we each can experience a higher state of consciousness called the Universal Mind, which makes the ordinary consciousness experienced by separate individual minds seem less real, or even illusory. Meditation helps one achieve a calm, objective, detached, and nonjudgmental awareness which enables a person to identify with this Universal Mind.
Actually experiencing this Universal Oneness is like coming home to the true Self that had been there all along. And we can return to that consciousness whenever we let go of our selfishness and prideful ego. By always trying to get more or be more than anyone else, this ego creates duality, separateness, and suffering.
This Universal Oneness is identical to the perennial philosophy of Aldous Huxley, the Atman and Brahman of the Hindus, the samadhi of yogis, the nirvana of Buddhists, and the inner Kingdom of God of Christian mystics. These sublime states are supported by the findings of quantum physics and the growing scientific research on Near Death Experiences and parapsychology.
Moreover, in recent months there has been a resurgence of interest in psychedelic drugs such as peyote and ayahuasca, which can provide a foretaste of this Cosmic Consciousness. Such drugs have been used as an effective treatment for alcoholism and physical drug addiction, and these plant-derived drugs often help people overcome the fear of dying. But in order for these treatments to be successful, a proper mental set in a therapeutic setting is necessary. Unfortunately, those conditions are difficult to meet in the United States, since the drugs and the treatments are illegal here.
Many advocates of the New Age movement are apolitical, and unfortunately, without remorse. Some refuse to learn about current events because they do not want to incorporate any “negativity” into their lives. In the book Mindful Politics: A Buddhist Guide to Making the World a Better Place, edited by Melvin McLeod, we find these words at the beginning of section one:
We are all equal, says the Dalai Lama (I learned recently that the Dalai Lama advocates a synthesis of Marxian economics and Buddhism), in seeking happiness and peace. Yet as individuals and as nations, we value our own happiness over all others’. This is called “ego” in Buddhism and it is the root of our suffering, both personal and collective. He proposes a new approach to global politics based on taking responsibility for the happiness of all people.
Thus, if apolitical, New Age individuals stay calm, detached, objective, and centered in serenity, they should be able to cope with current events and even engage in political thinking. In the Introduction of the book described above, Melvin McLeod said, “It’s not treaties that will really bring peace in the Middle East. It’s not legislation that will really change the lives of those who live in poverty and misery. It is only forgiveness, generosity, awareness, kindness, and selflessness that will really make a difference.” A few pages back, in the Introduction on page 11, McLeod writes, “We have to recognize that we can’t really change the world. We can’t really change who others are and what they think. We can only work with our own heart and mind. But the transformative power of that is extraordinary.”
Since I haven’t read the rest of the book, I am expecting and hoping that the other writers in the book will emphasize that we should still, nevertheless, keep working to create better legislation and better treaties. I contend that we need both an inward transformation and a radical change in government at all levels.
The last group I identify consists of the progressives and leftists of various Socialist, Communist, and Green Parties. I have a kinship with this group also. Its concern for ecological sustainability, social justice, egalitarianism, and a non-interventionist foreign policy is urgently needed. Probably most leftists do not practice meditation and prayer, nor believe in a higher Self and in reincarnation. But as secular humanists, agnostics, and atheists, leftists can be just as ethical as other groups that engage in various spiritual practices.
With so much diversity and so many different worldviews within the United States, it is no wonder why the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex, or the wealthiest one percent, can easily manipulate and maintain control of the disparate masses. Based on current trends, some would argue that the world is becoming a prison for the 99 percent. They point to the passage of laws that increasingly restrict our free speech, and to the increase in surveillance and Homeland “Security.” Meanwhile, third world nations are being plundered and exploited, and corporate capitalism is destroying the planet’s environment.
Creating Unity With So Much Diversity
So what is the solution? Average Americans must realize the importance of democracy, especially consensus and participatory democracy, whenever possible. Somewhere--if not at home, then at school—everyone should learn conflict resolution skills. Our government must become both a democracy and a republic, that is, a democratic republic. It must be a democracy that provides guaranteed human rights that the so-called “mob” cannot deprive individuals of, and it must be a republic in which our leaders, who represent larger groups of people, will actually represent all the people, and not just the wealthiest.
The American people must realize that there are “blowback” repercussions if we police the world and exploit the labor and resources of other countries for the benefit of our transnational corporations. If by using a black budget, the CIA is sabotaging democratically elected governments of developing countries that refuse to be client states of the United States, we the citizens, who allow our government to do this, can expect to reap the consequences of what our government has sown. Would we want a foreign government to have large military bases on our land? Of course not! So why do we think the people of other nations welcome our bases on theirs?
There must be gender equality and respect for alternative sexual preferences. To reduce the forces of domination and hierarchy, our institutions and organizations can be built from the bottom-up, not the top-down, whenever possible.
There is one branch of government that is most responsible for our plight, but potentially it is the most powerful branch of government that can actually rectify most of our many social and economic problems: the national legislative branch or the U.S. Congress. Currently only ten percent of Americans approve of Congress, which is quite pathetic.
We have to take responsibility for allowing the one percent to control us. We need to recognize that although the members of Congress enjoy the pay, prestige, and perks of the job, they need financial contributions in order to get reelected. The wealthy one percent is able to donate the most money, which they do as long as members of Congress do their bidding. So the American people must realize the importance of taking all money out of politics, so that congress can fulfill its rightful role of meeting the needs of the many groups in our society. In short, the best political remedy for our local communities, our nation, and the world is to force the U.S. Congress to maximize democracy and promote world peace.
The following recommended amendments and laws, expressed as demands, can be made of members of Congress, even if it takes several generations for some of them to be implemented. These demands could be the basis for a new political party, which could be called the New Congress Party. If no other political party sees the need to make these specific demands of the U.S. Congress, then a new political party is needed. If an existing political party can adopt these demands, then starting a new political party is not necessary. To make radical improvements, radical changes must be made—the sooner the better. Here are some of the most important demands to make of Congress.
1. Take leadership to dismantle all nuclear weapons and nuclear energy power plants, simultaneously and voluntarily, the world over as soon as possible.
2. Bring home all U.S. troops and close down the government’s 700 military bases around the world. Even with such a drawdown, our nation would retain more than enough capacity to defend its own borders. The money previously spent on the military would be used to create jobs and rebuild our nation’s infrastructure: “[A]nd they shall turn their swords into ploughshares.” (Isaiah 2:4) Many of our existing military ships, submarines, and planes can be used for low-budget travel and tourism.
3. Remove the influence of private financial contributors and of corporate lobbyists on members of Congress that they have had in the past. Instead, the Library of Congress will create a website that will become an online forum and clearinghouse for all public policy proposals. All positions and arguments will be publicized. Everyone will know who is lobbying for what and why. And also, publicly provide the same finances to the political campaigns of the seven largest, national political parties, and give all seven parties equal public exposure.
4. Elect the U.S. House of Representatives through a system of proportional representation, and abolish the U.S. Senate: Why should California and Wyoming have the same number of senators when California’s population is about 70 times greater? Implementing this may require a constitutional convention, since senators may not want to pass an amendment that abolishes the U.S. Senate. These measures are necessary to create the ideal government.
The seven largest, national political parties will be empowered in a single-chambered, national legislature. Under proportional representation, the National Green Party, for example, may get 15 percent of the vote, or 65 members, in the 435-membered House of Representatives, and Indiana’s population currently allows it to have ten members in the House of Representatives. But it may be that of the top seven national political parties, the Indiana Republican Party will get to select and send five of Indiana’s ten representatives to the House of Representatives because Indiana is a conservative state.
5. Abolish the electoral college system for electing a president. A president must win with a majority of individual votes (not just a plurality of votes) using the method of instant runoff voting, in which each voter will rank slated candidates from most favorite to least favorite. And it may take two or more rounds of voting to eliminate the candidate with the least amount of votes, until eventually one of the remaining candidates captures at least 51 percent of the vote.
6. Limit the terms for Supreme Court judges to four years, but allow judges to serve multiple terms.
7. Implement a decentralized, non-hierarchical, or grassroots, approach to public schools: The neighbors who live within the boundaries of each public elementary, middle, and high school will be forced, or allowed, to democratically establish their own school philosophy and curriculum, using public funds. There will no longer be federal, state, county, or township control of neighborhood schools. This should improve neighborhood togetherness, as neighbors ideally become tribal, in a new and modern way.
Local neighborhood groups would probably search the Internet and study the most effective schools and various school curriculums. Residents would be forced to think independently and philosophically. In the process, neighbors would get to know one another better, and they would build a close-knit community. Parents, other residents, and senior citizens would become better educated citizens, as they strive to become better teachers and tutors in the neighborhoods where they live. The current reliance on public school “experts” who dictate when, how, what, where, and who can teach has not worked well for teachers, students, parents, and our society.
8. Abolish the Federal Reserve and allow the Treasury Department to oversee a publicly owned banking system like the existing Bank of North Dakota. Currently the Federal Reserve has pumped $16 trillion into the central banking system to bail out the banks and big corporations, as many people wonder, “Where is my bailout?”
9. Strive to establish a democratic world federal government that provides equal pay for equal work, with no one earning more than three times the wages of the lowest paid worker. We only get cheaper prices at Walmart because someone in Bangladesh or in some other impoverished place is working for about 17 cents an hour. Is that fair? This policy will eliminate the extremes of poverty and wealth and provide adequate food, housing, and jobs for all citizens of the world. Moreover, the world map can be divided into 500 rectangular-shaped, legislative districts of equal population to create a World Legislative Council. This World Legislative Council could then make executive and judicial branch appointments.
Until the World Legislative Council is established, the United Nations should be changed so that all nations can participate in making all decisions, giving each nation one vote. The five nations that are permanent members of the Security Council within the United Nations have too much power. All nations should participate in Security Council decisions.
10. Implement a progressive income tax up to 94 percent for any income amounts over $100,000 with a simplified tax code.
11. Phase out fossil fuels through government incentives.
12. Provide free post high school, public education for students whose parent(s) have an annual income of less than $100,000.
13. Legalize commercial hemp, medical marijuana, and the private use of marijuana for adults, on a national level. If marijuana is safer, why are we driving people to drink?
14. Call for a new, independent investigation of 9/11 with subpoena powers, especially in regards to Building 7, which was not even hit by a plane, but fell at the speed of gravity into its own footprints at 5 pm on that tragic day. And Building 7 was not even mentioned in the initial Official 9/11 Commission Report, an investigation that was not done until two years later and then by government insiders, with an extremely limited budget.
Nanothermite explosives were gathered from the World Trade Center debris shortly after the towers fell on 9/11 by Physics professor, Dr. Steven Jones. He and a team of nine scientists published their paper in the Bentham Chemical Physics Journal, which is respected by Nobel Laureates and other members of the scientific community. Also, the majority of 9/11 Commissioners now say the government lied about 9/11, according to the website www.investigate9ll.org.
15. Provide incentives for local, organic food production in backyards and front yards, and promote food cooperatives that provide locally grown food. Require that all genetically modified foods be labeled.
16. Provide the best research and incentives to the 50 states on the best ways they can rewrite their state constitutions and possibly restructure their state governments from the bottom-up, not the top-down: from the neighborhood block club, to the precinct, township, county, and state levels. Each level of legislative government could make executive and judicial branch appointments. Elected Representatives at each level would vote among themselves to send a representative to the next level above it. Giving more power to the legislature at each level may work better than the current policy in which many voters (if they even vote) vote a straight ticket for many minor offices, for candidates whom they know nothing about.
17. Empower the seven largest, national political parties, using a system of proportional representation to elect 100 individuals to meet at a Constitutional Convention to rewrite the U.S. Constitution, in which the delegates will work for three entire months to get a 51 percent or higher approval of any proposed, new constitution. (In other writings, this author has laid out a 23-month timeline for this process to occur). Without a 51 percent approval of the new constitution, the existing constitution will still stand.
18. Require workplace democracy in companies that have seven or more employees. Workers will participate in determining the company’s direction, employee wages, and the selection of bosses, instead of relying solely on a Board of Directors, who are bent on making a profit for shareholders and the company’s upper management.
19. Allow Americans to visit Cuba if they choose.
20. Stop the drone strikes, the Guantanamo torture prison, the abuse of the Patriot Acts and NDAA, needless NSA spying, and excessive security checks at airports.
21. Make buses and trains more affordable and available to reduce the number of cars and trucks on roads and highways.
22. Implement Single Payer health insurance with the federal government as the single payer. This will eliminate most private, health insurance companies, which are eager to make greater profits, while offering their members increasingly less coverage and benefits.
23. Support the Charter for Compassion, a document that transcends religious, ideological, and national differences. The Charter activates the Golden Rule around the world. Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. www.CharterForCompassion.org
24. Promote a new era of honesty, openness, transparency, trust, and voluntary vulnerability among national governments, within the United States government, and within interpersonal and business relationships. Government secrecy regarding UFOs, various assassinations, 9/11, CIA operatives, and military black budget expenditures must come to an end.
25. Encourage the personal investigation of meditation (which does not have to be associated with any particular religion), and the scientific study of Consciousness.
It has been said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Well, that journey need not seem impossible. Consider that, for the first time, the American people recently expressed in the polls that they don’t believe the current lies and disinformation about why the U.S. should bomb Syria. And currently, let’s hope that the American people will realize that if it was wrong to bomb Iraq in 2003, it is wrong to bomb Iraq in 2014.
As more and more Americans wake up and stop relying on the mainstream media in the formation of their opinions, there is greater opportunity to reach the masses, especially the millions of Americans who don’t have jobs or who work at jobs that don’t pay living wages. The working class of America can be educated and recruited to demand that their members of Congress make these radical changes, or be voted out of office.
The U.S. Congress does not have to be permanently despised. Instead, an educated and empowered citizenry can help it become the ideal of the world. The Occupy Wall Street movement failed, at least in part, because it could not agree on specific demands to make of Congress. We have to be united in our common dreams and short term objectives.
As the gap between the rich and poor widens within a country and between countries, national and world problems increase accordingly. This is why I am adamant about reducing the economic gap even more than what current socialists and communists might advocate. But that is my preference. The democratic voice of the people may choose otherwise.
Living in a classless society where citizens love academic study, philosophical thinking, meditation, and voluntary simplicity, instead of conspicuous consumption, is my ideal. It would be accompanied by local, economic self reliance and local self-determination, undergirded by a modern type of tribalism. Still, I recognize that the democratic voice of the people may choose a more regulated type of capitalism with a greater focus on individualism—even after the empowerment of the seven largest national political parties.
Advocating neighborhood control of neighborhood schools to the extent that I have advocated is unprecedented. I have not found a single educational philosopher who recommends it. Even the first public schools had elements of top-down control. But just because it has never been tried does not mean it can never work.
With so much diversity, can there be unity and peace in the world? There can be unity and peace, and even happiness in the world, in spite of all the diversity. But, to achieve it—we each must find a way (through meditation, prayer, daily attitude, selfless service, or a combination of these things) to be inwardly joyful and also loving and kind in our interpersonal relationships.
But more than this is required: As responsible citizens, we must consider it our civic duty to maximize democracy (in the ways described above) and do the things that promote world peace and world happiness (as described above). It is better to think of what is best for the world and the planet than only what is best for ourselves and our own country. Democracy, of course, can only work if the citizens are well educated.
If the New Congress Party expresses the values and advocates the changes that you believe can create the ideal society and world, feel free to print and share this article. To officially register the New Congress Party as a third party in your state, you can contact your state voting office. Usually it only requires about three or four residents to officially serve as Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Secretary, and Treasurer. It has not been established yet in any state.
Roger Copple is 64 years old. He retired 4 years ago in 2010 from teaching general elementary, mostly 3rd grade, for half of his teaching career and high school special education during the other half, mostly in Indianapolis. Roger can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org ; his website is www.NowSaveTheWorld.com