My favorite Anne Tyler novel is the Accidental Tourist in which the main character is a man who writes travel guides for Americans who hate to travel but are forced to by circumstances beyond their control. So Macon Leary's guides tell his readers how to maintain their cocooned existence when they are forced out of their comfort zones into foreign territory. Naturally, this theme is carried over and writ larger in the novel as Malcolm himself is forced by tragedy to unwrap himself from his own cocoon and embrace life instead of retreating from it. The cover of the novel featured a Lazy Boy type lounger with wings, perfectly capturing the absurdity/beauty of the premise.
The other day I had an epiphany of sorts and it revolved around Anne Tylers brilliant concept for Macon Leary's guides. I wondered if the concept for the travel guides could be transferred into the arena of political activism. Please travel below the squiggle and I will explain.
For most people, the be all of their of political activism is confined to voting. If we think of ourselves as responsible citizens, we will drag ourselves to the polls and check one of the preselected choices we are limited to.
There was a time when there was a fairly large differentiation between the 2 choices - being a Democrat meant that you were for the little guy, the worker, the average Joe, civil rights, equal opportunity, the New Deal, The Great Society, and esatblishing, protecting and even enlarging the social safety nets, so as to move us all forward and upward in the great struggle to create a better life for every single generation, building on the foundations of the previous ones.
Being a Republican on the other hand, meant that you were for the business guys, the corporations,the country club folks, the people to whom taxes were an anathema, the small government, no regulation arena preferred by the Haves. My descriptions are of course simplistic, but they were how I always saw the two Parties.
Thanks for hanging in - I'm about to make my point.
I don't think that the DLC, or New Democrats, or Moderate (Republian) Democrats hold any appeal for me anymore. There's nothing in it for me, to be crass. I know that the Republicans would love to simply kill off through their policies that incoveneient strata of the population that doesn't share their Social Darwinsist beliefs. They are so crude about it, too - Ryans budget is like a bludgeon among baby seals. On the other hand, the enabling Democrats crush the poison pills into our applesauce and give it to us a spoonful at a time - the death is much more humane, but death results all the same.
Bludgeon? Or the applesauce? Of course most would pick applesauce. I'm going to opt for neither.
I am going to become an Accidental Activist. I'm just not into marching and being tased and kettled and kicked and maced and arrested and jailed. Sorry, but that's the truth. But I think there may be a big future in Armchair Activism.
I really don't need to do anything more than that which I have always done - Vote.
I am not necessarily advocating third parties or Independents, although they will obviously be an option. I am advocating moving outside the established systems and disrupting them with the power of the write-in vote.
No, I am not going to vote for the Republican. But I'm not going to vote for a DINO either. I am not going to vote for any Democrat anywhere who has a part in cutting entitlements as they lamely explain "it was the best we could do". No, it wasn't the best you could do. You could have done much better.
And so can I. I don't even have to get out of my comfort zone. All I have to do is vote, albeit differently from my obedient and docile votes of the past. The logo for Accidental Activism is a flying armchair with a write-in ballot sitting in it. This may be the single most powerful tool for change we possess in our arsenal as citizens.