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Saturday: Forest and trees and The Marshall Plan

Yesterday, I was listening to Stuff You Missed in History Class and the topic du jour was The Marshall Plan.  As I might have mentioned before, my knowledge of history is non-linear as a consequence of having moved 14 times before I graduated high school.  So, I listen to podcasts like this to catch up on things that got lost in transit.  One of the things I learned yesterday about the Marshall Plan is that it wasn’t just a massive act of charity on the part of the US towards a wartorn Europe.  No, there was definitely an ulterior motive.

After WWII, Europe was so devastated economically, and then suffered a ruinous weather event in the winter of 1946 that killed the wheat crop, that the populations were suffering malnutrition and looking forward to debilitating poverty for decades to come.  George Marshall anticipated that the conditions were ripe for social uprising and a turn towards communism, what with Russia breathing down everyone’s neck in Eastern Europe.  In the wake of WWII, Greece was the first post war country to have to put down such an uprising but it wasn’t going to be the last.  So, Marshall devised his economic recovery plan to prevent the other countries in Europe from going commie.   There is plenty of historical precedent for the overthrow of governments when poverty rises and effects the majority and it doesn’t take much to set off an angry mob.  Marshall needed to nip that in the bud.

Where am I going with this?  Oh, yeah.  I was going to write today about the PUMA movement and principles.  I believe that a successful movement is based on principles.  I also believe that we are at a time in our nation’s history when the public is so fed up with the two party system that there is a window of opportunity to make a real change and the political principles of either party aren’t as relevent at the present time.  Our social safety net in this country is so fragile that it only takes a couple of missed paychecks or a catastrophic illness to put a family into insolvency.  The steady erosion of our quality of life has happened under the auspices of both parties through deregulation, regressive taxation, union busting and the outright fraud perpetrated by the financial industry and their cronies in the business management field.  Before the election last year, we knew that the Republican party was morally bankrupt but who would have suspected before November 2008 that Democrats would also seek the path of least resistance and sell us out?  Well, *us*.  We believed it because we watched it happening in real time with our eyes wide open and our minds unclouded by propaganda. But now, many more people know it too.

In order to make change happen we need to threaten the current power structure.  By threaten I don’t mean by the use of any form of sabotage or physical violence.  I mean we have to make sure that our elected officials know that we will toss them out and then we must do it.  The question is how do we do this?

The answer is in motivating voters to go to the polls to vote out people who do not put the general welfare first.  The public doesn’t like Republicans, even if the GOP has been more successful at channeling the rage into tea parties.  But the GOP is not in power right now and as long as Democrats feel they are safe, they are going to try to ride this recession out without biting the hands that feed them.  But once Democratic voters start to turn their attention towards their own party, then there will be hell to pay.  The question is, can we engage people outside the Democratic party to join us?  Yes, I think we can.

I think we have all had the experience of knowing people who say they do not vote for any party.  They vote for the individual.  And this may be true, although I think some of these people are influenced by the last voice they hear on the way into the voting booth.  But the truth is that there are very few Democrats running for office who haven’t sworn to uphold the party machine that gets them elected.  And once you buy into this machine, your chances of balking at the money that flows to you is very slim.  Without that money, you can’t run.  But is this true?

If it is true that people vote for the individual, what is it they really want?  I would say that most people want to be treated fairly.  They want to feel like they have as much right to representation as someone with wealth and connections.  The reason why people want fairness is because deep down inside, we Americans believe profoundly in promoting the General Welfare.  We believe that this country was founded because we wanted to be free from a power that did *not* see our General Welfare as important to its own survival.  Isn’t this the same situation we find ourselves in today?  The power is not a foreign one; it is homegrown.  But our welfare is completely incidental to its own.  We need to be rid of this power.

This is an idea that can potentially attract voters from many different political persuasions.  The recession is having a profound effect on Republicans no less than Democrats.  And when it comes right down to it, no one wants to see the end of Social Security.  Why?  Because it is an insurance policy against risk.  Now that Republican households are just as vulnerable as Democrats’, there are a lot more of us who want to keep it in a “lock box”.

We need to bring this home to Democrats in a very simple way, because, after all, THEY are the ones with the reins of power.  We need to primary as many of them as we can.  We need to register as Democrats again, find out what the local requirements are for Congress and Senate and just enter our names as an alternative to whoever is running as the blessed party candidate.  Getting our names on that primary ballot doesn’t take a party endorsement.  In fact, I wouldn’t expect one.  But in a primary, you don’t need to be known or popular or a politician to be an active citizen interested in public service.  Those of you who are unemployed can look forward to a nice salary and health benefits.  All you need to be is another name on that ballot under the Democratic party. Call yourself a PUMAcrat.  Throw some coffees and cocktail parties.  Then see what happens.

Now, there will probably be campaign ads against you saying you aren’t connected enough.  In this environment, that could be a plus.  There will be people digging up dirt about you and your family and your unpaid car registration.  Tell them those without sin can cast the first stone.  There will be people who will say you don’t know enough about the issues.  Um, if you are reading blogs instead of the mainstream media, you can run circles around anyone making that claim.

If we manage to upset some races around the country, it may put the fear of God into our party officials and the tide may turn in our favor.

If we don’t do it, we can look forward to social unrest.  It’s coming.  The financial aces who have been riding high on our 401K contributions are busily tunneling out our economy.  To them, it’s all global now.  What happens in the US is collateral damage as they race to the bottom chasing lower and lower labor costs.  It’s very short term thinking but they aren’t worried about it right now.  It is time to focus our elected officials’ attention.

It’s either reform now or socialism later.

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