This is the personal blog of Rick Staggenborg, MD. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Take Back America for the People, an educational 501.c3 nonprofit established by Dr Staggenborg.

Feel free to reproduce any blogs by Dr Staggenborg without prior permission, as long as they are unedited and posted or printed with attribution and a link to the website.

For other blogs, please contact the author for permission.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


It’s great to see more Americans abandoning the false left-right dichotomy all the time. It is nothing but a construction of the corporate media to serve the interests of the wealthy power brokers who fund right-wing think tanks. They control the way Americans think about politics by controlling how it is discussed in the mainstream media and as a result, by most politicians. It is not a contradiction to refer to a “right wing” when arguing to abandon the artificial divide between Americans who consider themselves either liberal or conservative. I am using the term as it was understood by everyone when I was growing up: “Right-wing” at that time was generally recognized to refer to the economic and political elite of nations other than the US.  It is a term that used to be reserved for the ruling class of banana Republics who maintained power by terror alone.  Back then, no American politician would have wanted to claim membership in such a group.

It is useful to think of the spectrum of American political opinions as a circle rather than a line with two ends separated by a shifting middle.  In contrast, a circle is a symbol of continuity. It is a line curved upon itself, with no beginning and no end.  If America ever becomes a democracy, we certainly want it to stay one forever, after all who have died believing they were giving their lives to defend it.  A circle is also a symbol of universality.  In Venn diagrams, it represents the universe of all objects in a given class, such as all Americans or all humans.  That is a fitting symbol of a democratic society, where decisions are made by consensus and every citizen who wants to have a voice is included in the discussion. A circle is also symmetric. The two halves are complementary, like yin and yang.  Both are necessary to form the whole, and neither is entire of itself.  Without appreciating both, one cannot fully conceive of either.  Similarly, in a true democracy all views are considered and openly discussed in order to visualize all possible solutions in the process of achieving consensus on how to move forward together.

As the costs of allowing corporate interests to control the US government continue to multiply and to affect average Americans, the list of issues on which Americans can find common cause continues to grow. It is only a matter of time before pundits still arguing about political ideologies that are nothing more than convenient rhetorical devices realize that no one is listening. Instead, we will be having a real dialogue about practical solutions to issues affecting us. Members of Congress cannot continue to ignore this trend. If they don’t start facing critical issues of common concern to people who regard themselves as being at various points along the political spectrum, they will pay a price. Americans can decide for themselves who will represent them once they recognize and accept that both major parties are in the employ of the corporate interests that fund their campaigns, When they do, they will abandon the myth of the two-Party system and realize that solving the problems threatening the viability of the American experiment in democracy is more important than ideology.  How one wants to describe the system of government will be unimportant if we hand complete control of it to a police state that operates exclusively in the interest of the economic elite.

It was clear from the number of Ron Paul supporters who joined with Green Party partisans in Occupy encampments around the nation that people are seeing through the lies that are used to divide us and thereby keep us incapable of establishing a government of, by and for the People. The biggest issues then were outrage at government inaction against the banksters who destroyed the economy, the unchecked power of the Federal Reserve and the outrageous abuse of American military power to wage wars for corporate Empire that benefitted the rich at the cost of the lives of the poor and the wealth of the nation. While Occupy managed to avoid being coopted by any particular view point, it failed to address the fundamental ideological divide that separated the Libertarians from the socialists, although the progressive anarchists tried. It is time now to move beyond amorphous demands for redress of the problems we all agree exist and to the difficult work of having the national dialogue about what we can do to end them together.

Events are conspiring that seem to be leading inevitably to the kind of awakening among average Americans that we have been working for since it became obvious that the Anglo-American Empire is no longer afraid of public opinion in the US or anywhere else. Just as the power of the banks was revealed by the immunity for the crimes they committed that crashed the US and world economy, the threatened assault on Syria is leading to outrage throughout a broad swath of the American public. The lies are so transparent that even the Washington Post began to refer to the "alleged" use of chemical weapons by the Syrian military in a story about the decisive defeat in Parliament of a vote to support an illegal, non-UN sanctioned US attack. The same article describes members of Congress on both sides of the aisle asking questions no one asked Bush in 2001 or 2003.

The fact that members of both parties were involved in the attempt to ram through a war no sane American wants to see makes it obvious that the Iraq lies were not a partisan problem solved by putting a Democrat in the White House. The rot of corruption goes much deeper, and people are starting to see that.  Articles on conservative blogs are attacking the President and his party less often and the issues more, while blogs that often serve as a forum for Democratic apologists are publishing criticism of policies that more often than not come out of the same playbook as his Republican predecessor, such as a blog in the Daily Kos detailing the Congressional demands for consultation and an article in the Huffington Post that points out how deeply unpopular the proposed attack on Syria is.

It is becoming easier to help newly alert citizens to connect the dots that have been obvious to some of us for some time. The furious reaction to the revelations of NSA spying have interrupted the ongoing partisan nonsense of pundits representing the two sides of the corporate Duopoly long enough for them to agree that the abridgement of civil liberties has gone on long enough, prompting even Congress to act. The furor resulted in the near-passage on a bipartisan vote of the Amash amendment that would have restricted NSA spying . Such resistance to Presidential overreach of authority to strip Americans of basic constitutional rights would have been unthinkable even six months ago. It is only a matter of time before Americans collectively grasp the idea that war abroad, economic disaster and suspension of civil liberties at home are all symptoms of the same problem: corporate control of the US government. When they do, they will be ready for the solution.

There is no doubt that corruption of the US government by corporations and wealthy individuals is at the root of the problem. There are many proposals to do something about it, but the one with legs is the movement to pass a constitutional amendment to effectively reform campaign finance and abolish corporate personhood. When America has the discussion about why we need such an amendment and what form it should take, we will be ready to elect representatives who are willing to cosponsor and vote for it. If we make our votes conditional on such support irrespective of party, we can make our votes count by electing a Congress that will pass it. This is not going to end corruption in and of itself, but in electing a Congress willing to cut off the corrupting special interest money in elections we will have taken the first step to address the other sources by which they corrupt government.

It is not hard to see that the mood of the country is shifting away from helpless acceptance at the theft of what they have assumed is our democracy. Surely a politician as brilliant as Obama can see it. That raises the interesting question. Is it possible that he knows that we will not “be the change” he told us we have to be in 2008 unless things get so bad that we finally have no choice but to act? Is that why he seems to be doing nothing to counter the trend toward fascism in America? We can always hope that those we have accused of blind faith might have been right in claiming that Obama is playing three-dimensional chess with a bunch of checker players. Only time will tell, and only if the movement to take back America for the People continues to grow.


  1. Absolute boudlerdash as 90% of veterans and active duty soldiers online and in veterans organizations and groups and the organizations themselves are radical far right wing nuts and warmongers and are not interested in the truth.

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting, Ronald. You are totally mistaken, however. You got any poll data to support that? I know from experience that the great majority of combat veterans know that war is a scam. Vietnam veterans are in general fully aware that they were lied to and used, then thrown away. That provided a fast education about what war is really about.

    The veterans of the "War on Terror" are waking up in even greater numbers and at a younger age. They were even more abused, lied to about benefits that most signed up for as well as why we were fighting, which was the motivation for the rest, they come home to a society that has forgotten them and is falling apart to the point they cannot support their families.

    In 2008, the majority of active duty voted for Obama. There was also poll data even earlier showing that the majority no longer believed Hussein had anything to do with 9/11, in contrast to your average Fox viewer.

    The reason that you don't know this is because the media paints a picture that is contrary and because those who didn't see combat in earlier wars or only light combat are flag wavers who very loudly demand that we "support the troops" and who equate that with supporting war, since it is a source of pride for often otherwise unnotable people clueless about the real world so who do nothing to improve it.

    In contrast, as you no doubt know from your experience as a therapist, those who suffered in combat enough to develop PTSD are afraid of conflict so do not speak up in public. I believe that is changing and that we must encourage it, because veterans are highly respected by most people.

    I actually started Soldiers For Peace International with a group of about 25 mostly conservative vets who agreed that it was time to end war. They didn't think it possible so did nothing to make it happen. They especially didn't stand up publicly because they are still afraid of conflict and their friends are generally brainwashed flag wavers. However, these same people are very angry at the government. If we can educate them to the fact that war is the last thing we should trust our government on and the real cause of their growing economic misery, we will get them on our side and you will see many veterans speaking out, including those who are on our side but unwilling to say so yet.