Thursday, April 26, 2007

I've reached the point where I've realized that it doesn't matter who is running America - Democrat or Republican, it will still be business as usual, with the rich getting richer while everyone else gets the bill. Howard Zinn's book, 'The People's History of the United States', was a real eye-opener for me, as I never knew how thoroughly the upper class has been managing and controlling the rest of us, not just in recent times, but right from the get-go. I never realized how much violence there has been in North American history, and how swift the hammer of government used to come down on dissidents. These last few decades, Americans have been spoiled with freedom (as have us Canadians), and so we do not recognize the warning signs:

Fascist America, In Ten Easy Steps

Naomi Wolf's article lays it all out, plain as day, and of course we are all afflicted with the disease of malaise, of laissez-faire, because it seems too ridiculous to believe. We have too many distractions to see the big picture, and it's so easy to allow yourself to be caught up in the details of everyday life. Bush and his cronies are taking advantage of this by grabbing as much power as they can while assuming that we'll be more interested in what's on TV tonight. They are not wrong in a practical sense, but morally, well, if there is evil in this world, the U.S. government stands at the heart of it right now.

My brother Dave believes that America is dying, and I'm starting to see it, too. Maybe it was never that alive anyway. Zinn's book makes it clear that the supposedly democratic American government has been focused on protecting the rich at all costs right from the beginning. Freedom? Justice? Equality? There has never been a period of time in America's history when those three ideals were available to all Americans - unless they were part of the ruling class. It's ironic that America was founded by a bunch of guys who were tired of being the underclass in England, so what they did was set up a country with themselves as the ruling class. As George Carlin says, America was founded by slave-owners who wanted to be free. Now, what small social and economic gains have been made are being threatened once again by the rich and powerful. The internet scares the heck out of them because their control of the media is becoming more and more irrelevant. They're worried about the burgeoning power bases in China, Saudi Arabia, India, and South Africa. They're concerned that their foreign policy mistakes and covert operation disasters will come back to haunt them again. But mostly they're afraid that they might lose their money and power. Best way to keep it is to concentrate the money and power into a controlling, trustworthy few. Everything that Naomi Wolf says in her article has already happened. They could come for you in the dead of night, or on a bright sunny day, or when you're at work, at play, at peace. They don't need a reason, and they can hold you for the rest of your life. That does not speak to freedom, nor to justice, nor to equality. It's what we feared our enemies would do, what we know the Nazis did in the thirties and forties, what the Soviets did during the cold war, what the Chinese do now.

As long as America is stuck in a two-party electoral system, it remains a virtual dictatorship. As long as the majority of Americans do not vote because they know their views and needs are not being represented, things will only get worse. The powerful will continue to make bold strides forward, while we fall farther behind. What we can hope for is that a potential leader will emerge who is more concerned about his or her fellow man than the almighty dollar. Who actually listens to the people instead of treating them like dispensable cash machines. Who, regardless of his stated religious beliefs, actually performs his duties in a responsible, moral, compassionate fashion. This person... does not exist. Or at least, not yet. There have been people throughout history who have shown such qualities - Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa - but rarely have they ever come close to real power. Western societies are designed to keep such people out of power. Still, stranger things have happened.

It could start with talking to friends, get them interested and involved. You might get lucky and find someone who fits the profile I outlined above. Hey, maybe you fit that profile. I mean, come on, George Bush was a C student and he's the President. How hard can it be? Listen:

I was playing in a softball game a couple of years ago, and we were losing bad, down by more than ten runs, and it was the last inning. I led off with a single, and as my team cheered, I clapped my hands with a grin as I reached the bag. The first baseman cocked his head and said, "Why are you all excited? We're kickin' your butts." I shrugged and replied, "You gotta start somewhere."

So? Start, already.


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