TOSCA in Tucson


“We are documenting, discussing, debating, demonstrating, diverting and delaying ourselves to death in lieu of doing something new in solidarity that stands to make a big enough difference in time.” — One of the author’s home schooled youngsters at six years old (calling attention to the collective deadlines we face respecting our collective crises)

“Yes, of course, one could make a very big difference in Arizona on the gubernatorial level.” — Noam Chomsky at eighty-eight years old

When I introduce opera to my 5th Grade class in Tucson, Arizona this fall, I plan to underscore that the art form has revolutionary roots. And that could serve as a point of departure for talking about civic engagement, and generating truly singular parent participation in their children’s education.

Tosca is an opera by Puccini, of course, but TOSCA is an acronym for movement in solidarity that’s unprecedented respecting the electoral arena. When I was trying to get things in gear in California along the same lines that I intend to advocate in Arizona, the acronym stood for Transforming Our State with Citizen Action or — if one preferred a more radical expression — Taking Over the State of California. I always liked the former, not because I’m not the most radical soul in the U.S.A., but because I like the idea of “State” being spotlighted in two senses. Focusing on the political entity, and zeroing in on the personal psychological realm simultaneously.

In short, TOSCA sets its sights on the gubernatorial level, taking the attitude that the federal level is lost to us all, has been for quite some time… long before Trump triumphed. The millionaire (so-called) representatives and all those in decision-making capacities, including the heads of influential agencies like the leaders and their underlings at the EPA, FDA, FCC and HUD, among others do not have our interests at heart, for the most part. The point of view is not that one shouldn’t vote for senators or a given presidential candidate. Rather, TOSCA aims to focus the primary energies of activists and other concerned citizens on a level of government which is still accessible, on an office which can be secured by the common man (and woman and child!) for the Collective Good. And then do some good post haste.

And on that last note, it’s important to emphasize that career politicians — in the eyes of TOSCA — are too self-serving to significantly advance the interests of the average decent citizen. The interests of anyone who is not mainly into money and/or status and/or personal advancement. TOSCA maintains that it is not only possible for citizens with hearts, heads and souls in a healthy (communal-minded) place to replace career politicians at the helm, it is necessary to do so.

Decision-making respecting our collective crises in the U.S. — the world — is in the hands of self-serving souls as I write… exclusively. Yes, one can submit petitions on bent knee, pleading with careerists to do the right thing, and scream “truth to power”…dreaming that such efforts at bringing about institutional change are not, in the end, bootless cries. But one does not have to be limited to marching in circles with placards, organizing candlelight vigils, going on hunger strikes, boycotting, faxing one’s outrage to agencies and/or taking the 101 other steps that the powers that be allow (and ignore, for the most part)… in the disingenuous democratic dance they want us to do, believe in. They want us to keep chanting the Frederick Douglas mantra about power never conceding anything without a demand… without actually seizing power for ourselves, so that we can call some of the shots. Playing Baron Scarpia to our Floria Tosca, essentially.

I’ve had it with the incessant rape that goes on and on and on.

Again, one can go to the polls and pull the lever or push the button that’s set up, as long as one doesn’t spend too many heartbeats on pretending that we don’t have to sing a requiem for the American Dream. Meaning talking about it incessantly, debating, discussing and diverting ourselves to death all over a dead horse, a great idea that’s all over, and can’t be ridden down the road any longer. In part because the road is a bridge that’s collapsed, for which there are no funds for fixing. The fix having been in for quite some time.

I still sign petitions, and — on occasion — I might very well boycott a given product. And so on. But I won’t sew a sign onto the back of my jacket which reads, say, End the War or GMOs Must Go. For I’m not interested in showing folks in my quarters that I’m politically correct. I’m into actually ending our abominations abroad, and bringing about the radical restructuring of society. And to do that, one must not embrace obsolete forms of protest exclusively. Fall prey to popular approaches. If one puts a protesting bumper sticker on a car, writes a check or a song, marches, petitions, etc., it’s absolutely necessary to supplement the action.

And that’s where TOSCA comes in.

The “supplement” (or complement) comes in the form of securing significant reins of decision-making power. For TOSCA that translates — ideally — into taking over the gubernatorial seat in a given state. For many of our crises have deadlines attached to them, and radical change must be brought about on some counts as quickly as possible. I wouldn’t mind having a well-meaning, spiritual (sane) soul serve as the Mayor of Tucson, but I’d prefer to have that person in Phoenix acting as the state’s Chief Executive. More can be done sooner acting in that capacity.

With TOSCA, however, there’s no interest in having a single citizen at the helm. Rather, the idea is to get a dozen non-politician citizens to serve on an equal basis in the highest office in a given state… simultaneously. By law voters must cast their ballots for a single candidate. Nevertheless, that doesn’t preclude a candidate from telling the voting public that — if elected — he/she intends to serve the Collective Good on an equal basis with eleven other like-minded souls. Imagine an elected governor settling down to make major decisions daily with eleven other concerned citizens sitting at the same table, each one carrying the same weight in the decision-making process as the elected governor.

When I used the expression “non-politician citizens” I was talking about members of the public who have no interest in a career in politics. And that’s an essential part of the profile for anyone intending to serve under the TOSCA umbrella. None of the dozen souls cited above would be interested in serving a second term. For setting one’s sights on such is a prescription for worrisome compromise and worse. That’s why the electoral arena has such a horrid rep.

The gubernatorial coalition would be comprised of common folk who are aware enough of what’s coming down, and see the need to do something in solidarity about our horrid societal/environmental momentum. Soon. And to get that ball rolling, the really good news is that one wouldn’t need any money whatsoever to wage a campaign. I’m well aware the people’s visceral response to the suggestion that one could take over gubernatorial reins without spending a dime is, You’re crazy. But I am not. A core group of parents of the children in my 5th Grade class — and some of their other youngsters, neighbors et alia — could light a fire under whoever crosses their personal paths on a daily basis, with the common cause of replacing career politicians on some meaningful level. Wouldn’t matter if political differences existed among members of that core group. What they would have in common is acknowledgement that careerists were no longer going to be allowed to maintain their exclusive stranglehold on the state’s agenda.That would make it possible to create a watershed in history electorally, without anything being contingent upon securing “numbers” via social networking. Traditional critical mass notions would be irrelevant.

The word would spread. Like Christianity did. Like Islam did. Like Buddhism did. And so on, and so on. The main take away in this is that we now do need to create a watershed in history, and must pull off authentic miracles to make a difference in time. Before we go over the precipice. And that miracles don’t cost money, they cost something else. [Pause.] A focus of purpose in solidarity that’s honored religiously.

TOSCA is worth the candle for the light it would provide. For if a miracle is performed it will get and hold the attention of one and all. Not just in Arizona or any other state, but worldwide. And have a shot at stirring up the creative juices of one and all. A worthy goal since we all must bond — to some healthy degree, somehow — globally. The changes that must take place must take place everywhere. The thing is, the U.S. has such enormous influence, one couldn’t find a better point of departure for causing trouble than the U.S. of A. And no matter what state implemented TOSCA the positive ripples would travel nationwide, affecting those at the helm in D.C. to a degree that would be unprecedented.

Imagine demonstrating that money was not the bottom line for everything. Imagine having a gubernatorial coalition that never closed doors, that allowed the public to be privy to each and every conversation that took place between members, that made all encounters with lobbyists accessible in real time. So that common folk could determine for themselves who had their best interests at heart. Imagine, too, members of that gubernatorial coalition setting up a GOMO, a Governor’s Own Media Outlet. Providing the public with the daily news from their perspective. Subjective, yes. Advocacy journalism, if you will, in an Age of Sleepwalking Over the Edge. Providing an alternative to what the highly subjective mainstream media outlets shove down citizens’ throats. Interviews and coverage not edited to death by the walking dead careerists in journalistic circles.

There’s much much more I have to say about all this, but that’s going to have to wait for another time. This telegraphic sound bite above should be sufficient for now to spark an in-depth Q&A respecting the nuts and bolts of TOSCA, I trust.

I pray so. For we have no time to waste.

Richard Martin Oxman has been an educator and activist for over half-a-century. He would be honored to speak gratis at any educational institution which makes a request at [email protected].


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