We Must Become the Shire: American Spring, Dr. King, and Please, God, Something Different

Last week’s post, “How Broken are OurPolitics? Will Gen-X Save the World?” generated a lot of discussion and creativity.  A good friend of mine, one of those Boomers who do amazing things for their communities and in the lives of people, suggested (via Facebook) a new political model based on the communal virtues of JRR Tolkien’s Hobbits:

 Here’s an idea: why not pool say, 5 candidates (of differing political philosophies) randomly every 2 years, have them write an essay about what needs to be done in DC, vote on them, and send the winner to DC for a non re-electable 2 year term, repeating the process every 2 years.  Those who wield power best are those who don’t seek it. It’s why hobbits carried the seductive ring of power better than all others. We need hobbit rule. (Btw, this won’t happen bc those who love power (our elected reps ie Sauron) would have to amend the constitution and voluntarily relinquish power. One can dream, though).

Yes. We all can dream.  Which reminds me when some people dream, amazing things happen.  Today, the public gets its first glimpse of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial on the National Mall in Washington.  It stands between the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials and is, to paraphrase one observer, the only monument on the Mall to a man of color and a man of peace.

Think about that.  All of our other monuments are to men who have administered wars.  Observing that is not to disparage them, (there are other reasons for that in most cases) but to recognize King’s unique voice and prophetic place as an American  leader committed to waging change by waging peace.  The centerpiece of the MLK memorial is his form on the “Stone of Hope,” and I hope his memory will stand there on the Mall as an indictment of a system that has long since given up on the work entrusted to it.  I hope it stands there like a scandal, preaching peace to national bodies who tear our body politic apart with their addictions to power, their allegiances to lobbies, their cynical crocodile patriotism and two-party no-choice  horseshit rodeo.

As the Arab Spring becomes, even as I type, the Late Summer of Gaddafi, I wonder what we’ll do a year from now.  Will we be in the process of nominating, again, two clowns from two circus parties to pantomime a contest between competing visions for the future?   Will someone from the left have come to save us from Obama?  Will a libertarian deliver us from Perry?  Will we, the pissed-off Middle, flock to our party primaries and rummage through that discount bin again?  God help us. Can Spring 2012 please be something different?  Can we start planning now our own little process of renewal?  We have free speech and the freedom to assemble.  We have the right to demand better options, better leaders, better people.  An American Spring would cost us nothing, but what might it accomplish? What would it look like? Who would even show?

How about families with their kids? How about college students? How about the  homeless, uninsured, and unemployed?  How about conservatives, progressives and libertarians who, it will have turned out, are united around the issues of government reform more than they’ve been driven apart by nonsense party lines and structures? How about people of all faiths and people of no faith all committed to being people of goodwill?  How about veterans and pacifists?  How about immigrants?

Imagine meeting at the Mall at the great scandal of a monument. Imagine finding poetic, sublime irony in the fact that yes, it’s made from Chinese granite, and that yes, the oppressive Chinese government, eager to own us all,  financed part of its construction.  Oh confused and frustrated body politic, oh 20-45 demographic, take your place, for God’s sake! And for your children’s.