When the Congress voted Tuesday to extend funding to the war in Afghanistan there were twelve votes of “no” on the measure from the Republican side of the House. This doesn’t represent a tidal wave of change, but with 102 Democrats sharing the opposition vote, the no-confidence vote increased to 114, up from last year’s vote of 36. More than a quarter of the House voted to not fund the war, which is a vote to end the war. No funding, no war. No war, more Spirit.
This morning while watching “Morning Joe” I almost did a spit take as I watched former Nixon/Reagan staffer Pat Buchanan and The Nation reporter Chris Hayes find a firm agreement. Dogs and cats sleeping together is a rather hum-drum sign of the apocalypse after seeing arch- conservative and liberal nodding in agreement over the war and future of the United States. As Hayes’ mouth dropped, Buchanan even quoted Eugene McCarthy, “It’s the wrong war at the wrong time.” God does move in mighty mysterious ways… can God’s jaw drop?
There is no real surprise that Buchanan would speak out against what the war has become. Buchanan has been railing against the neo-cons for years (see his book, Where the Right Went Wrong) and like liberal icon Gore Vidal, Buchanan has been trumpeting the dangers of an American Imperium. Buchanan and Vidal have both agreed that the Republic that was America has been swallowed up by lust for empire and our rights and earnings swallowed too in support of the military and security costs to sustain empire, which inevitably result in the collapse of empire.
It was good to see Buchanan step out of his role of right-wing pundit and speak as a concerned American. It was good to see Buchanan state that we’ve wasted blood and treasure, and that we need to bring American troops home and put our treasure to work in “America first” dealing with our problems of poverty and education. It was funny to see the liberal Hayes’ head emphatically nodding up and down as Buchanan spoke. I felt maybe I was still sleeping or drinking decaff.
Ten years is a long time. This war has been the longest in American history. There has been some protest, but none like in the Viet Nam era. We have been slow to respond to the Spirit. Perhaps it’s been because this war has been fought without a draft and therefore so relatively few families have been affected. Perhaps, unlike Viet Nam, the press hasn’t provided a steady stream of images from the combat zone, or of flag draped coffins of dead Americans.
Fellow Americans have been letting their concerns float elsewhere, like whether all Americans should be allowed to exercise their rights to marriage, family and religious happiness. Or maybe we were too concerned with seemingly cheap credit and a former President who told us the best thing we can do for America is to go shopping.
Outside of Americans serving in war and their families, America felt little if any consequence of war, they didn’t even have to face increased taxes to pay for their patriotism.
That has changed. The fundamentals of America are askew. There are cracks in the façade and like the wind, the Spirit is finding its way through the cracks in the realities and structure of our sensibilities. Americans are now split 50/50 in support for the war. This change could be reflected in polling which shows 47% of Americans rate the economy as their chief worry and the war was next on the list at 8%.
While before the Crash of ‘08 relatively few Americans were feeling the pains of war, millions are now feeling the pain of an economy which can no longer afford to absorb the economic cost of war. The economy has crumbled, the infrastructure is crumbling and the backbone of America, the working poor is broke. They are much poorer, or now, the largely unemployed working poor. America is finally feeling the pain on a large scale. Millions of American families are finally now suffering a bit of the cost of war.
Lay your hand on a hot stove. Sometimes suffering does change behavior if not one’s thinking. Sometimes the Spirit is pragmatic. Who am I to argue with Spirit?
This America is beginning to push back. This America may now be seeing the threat of distraction isn’t gay or even Muslim, but a threat from within, a threat recognized by Vidal and Buchanan, the threat of empire building. Maintaining an empire just isn’t practical. Are twelve Republican votes for peace a stirring of Spirit’s sensibilities?
Regardless of what one thinks was the spiritual motivation for the Founders, one thing is certain, it was not their intention to lay the groundwork for an empire to serve the Two Percent, the smallest minority, or to fashion an empire built solely upon the wealth, sweat, blood and hope of everyone else, you and me. Push back America with peaceful power. We aren’t created to serve an empire, but in Spirit we are meant to serve one another in a new creation, a new world.
Perhaps we can put aside scapegoat arguments of empty morality and again focus on the ethics of Spirit: equality, justice and peace. If the suffering we now experience can inspire us to restore the peace, then we may look back on this as the pivotal time when we were truly changed by Spirit calling us to do the right thing, regardless of our individual motivations.
Maybe Vidal and Buchanan being in agreement is a sign after all. If they can agree, what else is possible for us?