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 Massachusetts 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.

Gary Corseri

Gary Corseri has posted and published his articles, fiction, poems and dramas at The New York Times, Village Voice, CounterPunch, CommonDreams, Dissident Voice, Countercurrents and hundreds of other websites and publications around the world. His books include: A Fine Excess; Holy Grail, Holy Grail; and Manifestations (edited). He has performed his poems at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum and his dramas have been performed on Atlanta-PBS and elsewhere. He can be contacted at Gary_Corseri@comcast.net.

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