Saturday, August 20, 2011

Where is the American Anna?

Guest Post by Jay -- Ottawa

Anna Hazare – the “Anna” of this man’s name is an honorific meaning “Elder Brother” -- is enjoying enviable success at throwing the forces of corruption in India into considerable confusion.  Common people are flooding the streets of several cities in support of his demands for reform.  The Arab Spring must be moving east, not west.  The “spark” in India is not a reform party or a last-straw incident throwing the street into rage; this spark is a person.  They call him Anna.

Here in the US our op-eds and blogs with endless lists of particulars against X, Y and Z politicians and big shots are soporifics for the Average Jane and Joe.  What’s the use of loading any more word bricks on the crooks or on the MSM with paragraphs from our commentariat’s elite, be they world-class witty, blue-collar sassy or lawyerly elegant?  Aren’t we just a band of brothers and sisters in retreat consoling ourselves with right thinking?  Is the nation any better today than it was a last year or the year before, despite our critical elite’s rapier essays?  And our sincere applause?  Poetry changes nothing.  Ask any poet.

Something more is needed to whip up an effective level of attention.  I’m about to tell you what that is.  Given the nature of the world and the needs of politics, what we sorely lack is a hero.  To turn the country around we need intelligence and justice and commitment incarnate in human form – we need an ‘Anna’ -- a hero of integrity who is a visionary, who is not reluctant to use power, who is determined to turn the ship of state around before the current crew runs it up on a sand bar to be cut up and carted away.  Progressives need a person of the first rank in the front ranks of reform.  Until a hero steps forward the intellectuals are as doomed as the ignorant.  Awareness never saved timid kings from the falling axe.  Why should it spare us who wail and wring our hands in the bottom half of the economic pyramid?

We have allies, like the New Progressive Alliance (NPA) -- Homework assignment: visit their website OFTEN.  The NPA has gone beyond our intellectualizing and finger pointing.  Much like that most famous of advance men, John the Baptist, the NPA is laying the groundwork, preparing the way for “The Hero,” someone with a record, not too young, not to old, a leader who identifies with the common citizen and who knows how to deal with the frauds who are now in charge of just about everything.  The NPA has completed its work on a political platform for the New Progressive Party.  They are building the infrastructure for a third party at the state level.  All they need….

All they need is a real person to fill the top spot and shift the center of gravity from cake to bread, from greed to care, from Wall to Main, from Dives to Lazarus.  The US has about 310 million people, not as large a population as India, but still, a large pool of talent.  Are there not 50, are there not 10, is there not even one person of stature and integrity to serve as a magnet to pull together all our resentments and all our hopes into one unstoppable force to set things right in America?  If such a hero ever steps forward to lead, so will academics and business people like the brain trust FDR assembled to implement the New Deal.  Think about it: Would there have been any New Deal without FDR, any Great Society without LBJ?  One politician can make it happen.

We need a hero, a real champion, a happy warrior who holds nothing back.  If there were such a man or woman to back for high office, so much of our eloquent closet talk would be transformed into notes of a positive crusade appreciated by the entire spectrum of our society. 

Ideas alone will never engage majorities, but heroes with ideas will.  If an Elizabeth Warren seized the banner of the NPA, would we set aside our petty differences and work as hard for her as we ever had for any other candidate?  Progressivism will never make headway until it is advanced by a charismatic leader.  Am I asking for too much: a Messiah; some kind of Deus ex Machina?  Probably.  But I see no other way out of our present difficulty.


Anne Lavoie said...

'We are the ones we have been waiting for' - Barack Obama, Campaign 2008.

Ya think?

William said...

Did anyone else marvel at the excerpt from FDR's 1936 reelection campaign speech at MSG in the NYT comments today? Now that's the kind of guy we're looking for! Enjoy:

"....We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace-the business and financial monopoly speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism,war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We now know that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they have today. They are unanimous in their hatred for me- and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master."

William said...

Or *gal* we're waiting for. Elizabeth Warren, please pick up the nearest white courtesy telephone.

Valerie said...


This is an excellent piece. You have so succinctly put into words what so many of us have been wondering. Where is the progressive, anti-corporate leadership in our country?

What is happening with the Congressional Progressive Caucus? Why isn't anyone from their ranks throwing his/her hat into the ring and challenging Obama for the top spot? Is it money or are there threats from the Democratic Party to not upset the apple cart? A challenger WOULD bring attention to the fact that Obama has been a sell-out to the groups the Democratic Party traditionally championed. Is that the reason the Democratic Party will not allow someone else to step up to the plate? Obama has been such a failure and so many of us are restless for REAL change and REAL representation. There is a constant call for a strong Third Party candidate or someone with true Democratic values to challenge Obama in the Primary. Yet, these calls are met with silence.

I have heard that there are surveys of the public in which Obama is still widely supported by the Democrats. I have to wonder what questions are being asked. When I once answered a survey about fossil fuels, it was clear that, through the wording of the survey, I was being guided to the answers they wanted me to say. Often the answers I wanted to reply were not even choices offered in their multiple choice format. Many who can't stand Obama and what he is doing to our country will vote for him as opposed to a Republican. But would they stick to their decision if there were a good alternative? Are these Democrats being surveyed asked THAT question? Or is it just the kind of question where the alternatives to Obama are a Tea Partier or Republican?

I think the fact that some Progressives are even entertaining the idea of voting for a candidate like Ron Paul is that the choices open to them as Democrats are nil.

J. Kicielinski said...

Bravo, Karen, well said! (It put a lump in my throat.)

Karen Garcia said...

The most excellent post was written by Jay -- Ottawa, not me!

Reminder: Guest posts can be submitted directly to me,

Jay - Ottawa said...

Waiting for Obama? What do I think? After reading your many fine comments I think you’ll join me in a more promising endeavor, like waiting for Godot.

Isn’t it amazing how prescient FDR was! He made speeches back in 1936 that Obama would do well to read off the teleprompter today. Same cast of perpetrators back then as now; but something else is missing, isn’t it.

Weeks before the inauguration the press informed us Obama was devouring a new book about FDR’s First Hundred Days. Based on the past two years Obama rates an “F” in reading comprehension or an “Incomplete” in follow through if he did understand anything.

The Party Platform of the New Progressive Alliance incorporates long passages from the party platforms of the Populists of 1898 and the Progressives of 1912. The complaints of the ancient lefties mirror our own word for word, paragraph after paragraph. It seems that bankers are bankers are bankers in every era. Trusts are Monopolies are Global Corporations who need to get busted again and again. War profiteers, also around for centuries, are simply vile. Take hope. We’ve been through this before. ¡Si se puede OTRA VEZ!

Yellow Dog Democrats have a habit of lifting their legs on upstart progressives. For months you and I and others have attempted to dissuade them from the practice. It may be time to call in Céasar Millán, The Dog Whisperer, as a consultant. In the meantime, we’ll have to rely on the magic words “Tsst” and “Tchut.”

Kat said...

I'm reminded of what could have been with Dr. King's unrealized Poor People's Campaign.

Valerie said...

Quoting Jay from Ottawa, "What’s the use of loading any more word bricks on the crooks or on the MSM with paragraphs from our commentariat’s elite, be they world-class witty, blue-collar sassy or lawyerly elegant? Aren’t we just a band of brothers and sisters in retreat consoling ourselves with right thinking? Is the nation any better today than it was a last year or the year before, despite our critical elite’s rapier essays? And our sincere applause? Poetry changes nothing. Ask any poet."

So true Jay! I don't know why - maybe I am just becoming impatient for some leadership or some proof that all our awareness of what is really going on in government, our cries of "foul!" and our SOS for a Progressive willing to take on Obama is doing any good. I fear it is not. I keep reading articles about what Obama SHOULD be doing and I feel like we are blowing in the wind. He is NOT GOING TO DO THE RIGHT THING! He has proven that again and again. Whoever has bought and paid for him; owns him. And the groups who own him, pretty much own the Democratic Party as well.

There is a frustration amongst our Progressive membership between the pragmatics and the idealists. Both sides want the other to cooperate and join their ranks. A Progressive leader like Anna would be someone we could all rally behind. Even if that person were not to run for President, just to have a person like MLK to lead us would get the boat turned in the right direction. I don’t believe that we can afford to wait until 2016 for some Progressive leadership – the time for a “Hail Mary Pass” is now.

The Black Swan said...

And this is why the progressive movement is doomed. We are waiting for someone to come rise up out of the depths, a known unknown, and save us at the last minute. Well, we can wait and wait and wait and watch the world crumble around us or we can realize that any one of us, any commentator or blog writer could be the person to step up. Why wait for someone when you could be that someone? I am a young man with no political experience, but I believe deeply in a society ruled by LOVE and COMPASSION, and I am very passionate about my beliefs. As easy as it is to sit around and hope someone else will take the mantle and represent myself and the rest of humanity, maybe it could be me? Or someone else on this comment thread? There are billions of people waiting for someone to come along and turn this ship around. It might be time that we take it upon ourselves, that we make those sacrifices, that we not wait for someone else to come along and help. The first step is that we need to believe that someone from far outside the system could be the change we need. Do we really want someone with experience working in a broken and evil system? Or do we want someone who truly and fully stands for the benefit of all mankind? We are a unique species in that we can directly impact our abilities to survive, it is time we lived up to our uniqueness.

Neil Gillespie said...

Thanks for this post Jay. I’ve linked the New Progressive Alliance on my website. The NPA "about" page makes some good points. But looking for a Messiah could be a problem; wasn’t Obama supposed to be the latest Messiah?

As for a happy warrior who holds nothing back, I nominate Matt Weidner of St. Petersburg, Florida. Matt recently announced his candidacy for the Florida House of Representatives. Click on my name for a link to Matt Weidner’s announcement on my website and listen to his impassioned YouTube candidate speech. Matt is a vocal foreclosure defense lawyer, and under investigation by the Florida Bar for speaking out about injustice. Matt is young and strong and would make a great candidate.

This is an apportionment year in Florida. Matt says this is an opportunity for a referendum on the entire state government, one that comes along once every ten years. Any Florida registered voter can sign a petition for Matt to run. He needs 518 petitions. Matt wants to put like-minded candidates on every one of Florida’s 120 House seats, and on every one of Florida’s 40 Senate seats. This is Matt’s web address

The NPA website features a video of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech "I Have a Dream" from the march on Washington August 28, 1963. Up until very recently this speech was available on YouTube and I had it on my website with YouTube. However those videos have been removed
due to a copyright claim by EMI Music Publishing who represents the King estate. EMI Music Publishing is owned by Citigroup, that’s on Wikipedia. EMI is headquatered in London. EMI said it would work with Intellectual Properties Management, an Atlanta-based company that licenses Dr. King’s image, likeness and recorded voice for nonmusical works. The estate wants to "protect" Dr. King’s speeches. "Protect" means remove from meaningful access. You can read more at the links.

Apparently this copyright action comes after a lawsuit by the estate against CBS, see 194 F.3d 1211 (11th Cir. 1999)

So now Dr. King’s "I Have a Dream" speech is "protected" by a company owned by Citigroup.

Anne Lavoie said...


It sounds like it's high time for a new Dream. If the King family wants to cash in on his legacy, that's how it ultimately ends up in our capitalistic and litigious society.

MLK had some personal baggage, as do all humans, and therein lies the problem of relying on one person, especially if someone needs to win an election.

MLK never ran or held office, but he accomplished a great deal. He did it by galvanizing and mobilizing the People. So that showed up that we don't need an elected official to lead us. That will be the day they serve US, especially now that the corporations own them all.

We already have people speaking the truth, such as Glenn Greenwald, Ralph Nadar, Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich, et all. There is no need to wait for someone to reveal it to us. I think we are actually waiting for someone to organize us.

I think, however, that we can organize ourselves to become the powerful person/movement we are waiting for if we make ourselves into one body, one voice. Right now we have are many disparate, but worthy movements, all sucking up scarce dollars and resources.

We need to form into a CORPoration of sorts, a body of people. A living body starts with the spark/energy of life that seems to come out of nowhere, out of the universe itself, then proceeds, multiplying into more and more cells, becoming specialized into functions, and organized into organs. The organs then work in harmony guided by that mysterious intelligent energy that started it all.

That's simply how Nature works, with or without our conscious awareness or deliberate intervention. We too are Nature. Let's tap into our common energy. Contemplate this lovely poem compiled from teachings of Lao-tzu:

To Know Tao

To know Tao
and still the mind.
Knowledge comes with perseverance.

The Way is neither full nor empty;
a modest and quiet nature understands this.
The empty vessel, the uncarved block;
nothing is more mysterious.

When enlightenment arrives
don’t talk too much about it;
just live it in your own way.
With humility and depth, rewards come naturally.

The fragrance of blossoms soon passes;
the ripeness of fruit is gone in a twinkling.
Our time in this world is so short,
better to avoid regret:
Miss no opportunity to savor the ineffable.

Like a golden beacon signaling on a moonless night,
Tao guides our passage through this transitory realm.
In moments of darkness and pain
remember all is cyclical.
Sit quietly behind your wooden door:
Spring will come again.