Over the past few days, I've been trying to sort out a strategy for the U.S., my country, to adopt as we move forward to a more prosperous and peaceful future. What I've watched myself do is sell myself -- and my core beliefs -- short.
Why? What's happening? What am I doing? I’ve been talking myself into being a Democrat, that’s what. I’ve been trying to ramp my own sense of purpose up in a way that lets me support the Democratic Party in the 2012 elections. Okay, I’ve succeeded, I’m going to support the Democratic ticket from here to the voting booth in November.
But it’s simply not enough. It’s not that I don’t trust my party, the party that I’ve supported since 1964, when as a 14-year-old avowed supporter of Lyndon Johnson I went door-to-door campaigning for him. I believed in the Democratic Party then, and I believe in it now. But there is a huge difference in the way I feel now and 50-odd years ago.
The Democratic Party’s platform and performance is a bare-minimum starting point fraught with all kinds of shortcomings. There are a growing number of people that mock the difference between the parties as inconsequential. I know. I’ve posted some diaries at more intensely liberal sites like firedoglake and gotten flamed in comments for being milquetoast (not exactly the word they chose).
Reading Salon.com yesterday – Glenn Greenwald was hosting guest bloggers – I realized the source of my discontent and the reason I got flamed at firedoglake: Supporting the Democratic Party and calling for a bigger tent that includes the 99 percent is not enough, not by a long shot.
I repeat: I’m going to vote the Democratic ticket. Big whoop. That’s like maintaining pressure on a serious wound to hold down the bleeding and then deciding to forgo the trip to the hospital. I’ll likely bleed to death at that rate. We all could. No, to effect real change, we’ve got to stand our ground, we’ve got to stop the bleeding. Then, we’ve got to set the stage for real healing and a real return to health for the whole nation.
And it’s not like ripping off a scab. It’s like staunching a mortal wound. It’s that important. I’m not even sure I know all it will take, but I do know where to start. The first step, like all efforts at rehabilitation, is to be brutally honest. Here goes:
Stop being afraid of language. For me, that means admitting, even reveling in, the fact that I'm an avowed socialist. It's not a dirty word. It's an apt description for someone who supports public solutions to public problems. I admit finding a suitable label isn't a substitute for action, but it's a place to come from. And, BTW, liberal, progressive, socialist, it's all about the same thing, and that's pressing for the advancement of public goods. Such belief is not, regardless of conservative talking points, antithetical to private enterprise. One thrives because of the other.I could go on and usually do, but enough for now. Over the coming weeks as we get further into the election year and hopefully further into the resurrection of the Occupy Movement, I'm going to cut the crap out of my weak-tea liberalism and move toward the real deal. It starts with admitting the truth and standing up to the man. How we all do that can be a matter of style, as long as we're not simply pandering or, more like it, whimpering. Tea Party people, you wanna take back the country? From whom, for what? You already have taken it back and you don't even know it. Why? Because the Republicans stole it from you while you were busting up town-hall meetings, that's why.
I speak of healthcare as a human right, and it is. Therefore, my only acceptable solution, given that I'm a socialist and a humanist, is a single-payer system. What's more, we already have an effective example of single-payer, and that's Medicare, an apt name for the cradle-to-grave system we should already have.
Equality, equality, equality, in every way imaginable. I don't need to spell it out.
Due process, rule of law, no exceptions just because you're rich and white. Just no exceptions. Armed robbers and too-big-to-fail bank CEOs should share the same cell, if they're caught with their hands in the cookie jar. (Why does that sound weird? Because it doesn't.)
War crimes and crimes against humanity should be tried in the International Criminal Court, which we should be participating in with great relish. The fact that we don't doesn't make us an exceptional country, it tells the world we as a people accept that we're basically, uh, cowards. The reason we don't participate in world bodies like the ICC is that we wish to be free to behave like criminals, regardless of how many conventions and treaties we sign on to. Anybody with an ounce of brains or a sense of common decency knows that about us and knows why we won't cooperate. We wouldn't be able to bomb and kill people at will. We'd be forced, at least, to behave in an justifiable and explainable manner.
Republicans -- conservatives, whatever -- used to be colleagues with which we could and did have reasonable disagreements. No more. They're tools of the plutocracy and pimps for the rich. They have no reasonable purpose other than to steal as much money without doing time as they can. They have utter contempt for the poor, near-poor, and the middle class. Their messaging has evolved to the point that we shouldn't have straight faces while listening to them. They are among the most irreligious people on the face of the planet, their faux religiosity notwithstanding. Take them seriously, yes, but don't engage them as if they didn't know the larceny in their own hearts. They do, and we should act like it at all times. We can be civil but not cowardly. Confront the bastards mercilessly.
Our problem, those who align with the Democratic Party, is that the Democrats are only marginally better. We can't delude ourselves. It's okay to support the Democrats as far as it goes, but don't believe for one minute that the party as a rule goes one-tenth of the way it needs to in order to accomplish what this country desperately requires. So the other nine-tenths needs us to move forward boldly and be prepared to leave the Dems in the dust. Seriously. An example: Jay Rockefeller. Nuff said.
Give in to the fact that as a country we can't really take the cure until we give up our warlike ways. We must become a nation of peace, similar to Japan and Germany (no irony there). Hell, China has been, once free of Mao, a far more peaceful country than the U.S. Shocking, when you think of it. War is for cowards. It takes some real guts to give up our guns. Let's keep a good self-defense force and chuck the rest -- and join the civilized world. I'm tired of being a cowboy, or at least being forced to ride with them. An example: Rick Perry. Nuff said.
On a final note for now: We've been behaving very badly as a country of late because of the way we've used the War On Terror to justify the destruction of the Bill of Rights. Oh, fine, we can still carry guns and kill each other in random, indiscriminate ways (and some rather discriminating ones as well), but by and large our Fourth Amendment rights are in tatters, and the right to free speech and assembly are rapidly becoming a joke, were it not so tragic. Free speech zones! WTF! Freedom to assemble and demand a redress of grievances, my ass! An example: Michael Bloomberg and NYC under Ray Kelly. Nuff said.
It's the Left who have lost the country, and I hope, as we come to reclaim it, we show you what a real patriot looks like. I've got a feeling I'm not the only one who is mad as hell.
And it starts with being mad as hell at myself. Count me back.