by Michael E. Salla, M.A., Ph.D.
from AmericasHeroJourney Website
While critics of President-Elect Obama suspect him and his supporters of creating a personality cult that will be used to promote big corporate interests they overlook the extent to which Obama reflects a powerful archetypal force in the U.S. collective consciousness. The archetype is "The Hero" as represented in Joseph Campbell's popular book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).
Campbell described the Hero as an archetypal
figure that goes through a journey of self-discovery by first separating
from society, then being initiated into sacred mysteries, and finally
returning to society. With the return, the Hero provides the fruits of his
or her labor where many positive ethical changes are made to uplift society.
The idea that the policies of nations could
follow distinct cycles was first proposed by the historian Arthur
Schlesinger, Snr., in a 1939 essay, "The Tides of American Politics" (Yale Review).
The idea was further developed by his son, Arthur Schlesinger, Jnr.,
The Cycles of American History (1986)
where he identified moral cycles in America's foreign and domestic policies.
An article summarizing America's different hero
journeys is available
But before examining Obama's role in this new
Hero's journey for the U.S., it's important to pause and reflect on what
occurred during the Bush administration.
Of most concern to critics, were the omissions
of The 911 Report when it came to foreknowledge of a possible terrorist
attempt to hijack planes, civil and military exercises on 911, and the
collapse of World Trade Center 7. This led to a growing number of critics
suspecting the senior members of the Bush administration were complicit in
the 911 attacks.
Other authors such as Michael Rupert in Crossing The Rubicon provided persuasive evidence that the civil and military exercises occurring on the morning of 911, simulated hijacked aircraft hitting buildings including the World Trade center. Vice President Cheney was in charge of these exercises as mandated by a May 21, 2001 Presidential Statement and directly played a role in preventing NORAD intercepting hijacked planes.
The exercises directly refuted Bush
administration claims that it had no foreknowledge of terrorist attacks
involving hijacked planes, and made senior officials a direct part of events
on the morning of 911.
Articles of Impeachment submitted in April 2007
by Congressman Dennis Kucinich to the U.S. House of Representatives
on the basis of a contrived intelligence data to support the Iraq War was
not supported by the Democratic leadership. There has subsequently been much
evidence emerging into the public realm to confirm that the Bush
administration committed international war crimes in Iraq and elsewhere.
Revenue from drug trade and other illicit operations are directed towards a secret 'unofficial' CIA black budget that runs over a trillion dollars annually.
In contrast to the CIA's more limited "official" black budget generated from appropriations from the Department of Defense, the "unofficial" black budget has been used to fund a highly classified set of projects called the Second Manhattan Project whose true purpose is yet to be disclosed to the American public.
...have been stopped on the grounds of national security.
Over the course of the Bush administration there was little government transparency and accountability in key institutions of American power, that were unresponsive to Freedom of Information requests from the general public.
The Bush administration eventually became the
most secretive Presidential administration on record.
EO 12958 was viewed as an essential tool in ensuring the release of many national security files that had been unnecessarily classified for decades. After the passage of EO 12958, Podesta served on the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, chaired by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY).
In its 1997 report the Commission observed:
After passage of EO 12958 and the Secrecy
Commission Report, Podesta become President Clinton's Chief of Staff from
1998 to 2001.
In 2003, Podesta created the Center for American Progress, where he continued his advocacy of transparency and government openness.
He became a critic of the passage of Executive Order 13292 by President Bush in March 2003 that facilitated greater government secrecy when it came to national security records. It significantly weakened key provisions from Clinton's EO 12958 or removed them altogether.
An example was the removal of the following critical clause:
In September 2008, Podesta wrote a paper where he outlined his key recommendations to the next President:
Podesta's appointment to head Obama's transition
team, signals an important focus for the new Obama administration - greater
declassification of national security records and a commitment to Open
That would represent the "Call to Adventure" for a new Hero's journey, as described in my The Hero's Journey in the Second American Century. To do so, Obama needs to demonstrate a clear commitment to end the Bush administration's covert and imperial policies. The diverse interest groups that sanctioned these policies in whole or in part must also be resisted and exposed.
This will be the greatest challenge confronting
Obama who out of political necessity had to appoint many to powerful
political office with ties to major corporations.
This will make it possible for greater accountability of public officials to be exercised.
This will be vitally important in dealing with excesses of the Bush administration, especially when it comes to deficiencies in,
President-Elect Obama needs to set the U.S. on a new Hero's journey, it's eighth, where the U.S. restores public trust in political institutions that have been maliciously eroded by the Bush administration.
Most importantly, the U.S. democratic heritage needs to be restored through a genuine form of democracy wherein there is transparency in key institutions of power, and the rule of law is established to ensure accountability for all office holders. Such accountability can be achieved through the declassification of national security information.
This declassification process will allow the truth to emerge about critical issues raised in this paper.
Political progressives around the world fervently hope that Obama's election marks the starting point of a new Hero's Journey for the United States of America - a genuine commitment to Open Government would be a worthy response to such hope.