I had lunch with some former colleagues last week and told them I was going to Occupy Congress next week. Some of them looked like I had lost my mind while others were curious. One of them grew up in the former Soviet Union. Once I assured him that I wasn’t marching for a grand socialist solution, we had an interesting conversation. He told me that in his country, the KGB put a label on you, he gestured to his forehead, and never let you alone. He said, “Don’t misunderstand me, I am on your side, but what you are dealing with is not just in this country. It’s global.” And then he gave me a knowing look and, ya’ know, I think I got it. That was a weird feeling and not necessarily in a good way.
I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating, we are now engaged in a struggle between global authoritarianism and small “l” liberalism. This is a global event. It’s the shock doctrine on a universal scale. It’s why there’s a push for austerity everywhere. Too often, Americans see their politics on a small scale, as if what happens here is just like the political superbowl between two teams that meet every four years. The media covers the players in the same way with statistics and color commentary. The primaries are like the playoffs leading to the big one in November complete with nachos and guacamole and a lot of beer. It’s a process unique to Americans, just another Detroit vs Green Bay.
But that’s not what’s happening anymore. Our electoral process seems local but it’s part of a global pattern where the players are picked by a small evil group to which no one we know belongs. And they are presented to us in a process where the outcome is pre-ordained. In fact, I don’t think we Americans have actually picked our president since 1996. In every electoral contest since then, the good guys have lost. I am not referring to McCain.
You THINK you have a choice but you don’t. It’s time to face up to that fact. If progressives were smart, they would stop playing this game and at least expose it, even if they feel (incorrectly, IMHO) they can’t do anything about it this go around. As long as they still think that this is a contest between Barack Obama and whoever the Republicans pick, progressives are dooming us whatever the authoritarians want. The answer is not to try to influence the Republicans. You are wasting your time and playing their game. The answer is to try to put the screws to the Democrats. And it is a very good idea to find out who the authoritarians most fear.
Otherwise, we may wake up in mid-November to the same situation they have in Hungary right now where the ruling party has rewritten the constitution and has cemented its future electoral victories in place for a couple generations.
Have courage, friends. The days of comfort for the soft American are over.
I’m off to Philly today to do some work type things. Later Taters.