Monday, December 26, 2016

We Are Our Only Hope

We outnumber the Trumpistas by more than three million, but that’s scant comfort in a place where the Other Side has all the guns, all the money and no shame.

As the country’s most important writer, Chris Hedges, put it in his Christmas essay, all we have is each other.

Clasp hands, then, with the boycotters.  My daughter Laura is one of them.  “All they know is greed,” she said, “the only thing they understand is money.  So we should hit them where it hurts.  Boycott the corporations, the banks and fossil fuel companies, Big Agribusiness, Big Everything — quit buying their goods and services.  Massive boycotts would wake them up.”  The revenge of the 99% against the 1%.  Do it, say I.

Pledge allegiance to the resisters.  “Don’t let Trump get away with anything!” writes Robert Koehler of PeaceVoice. “Fight every alt-right and nutcase appointment he tries to make, every racist or reckless policy he tries to implement. Above all, don’t let him shift the paradigm of normal.” But the Other Side is in the Rapture of Power and hears not the voices of resistance. Koehler, citing Standing Rock, says, “for some reason the national or perhaps global moment was ripe for it to be something else. The struggle for water rights, for the sanctity of the land, for a wounded people’s dignity, sent a tremor through the whole country. Something sacred — to use a risky, old-fashioned word — had been violated. And maybe we’re no longer simply Consumer America, using up our resources, destroying our rivers, clotting our veins, to consequences born only by the racially and culturally marginalized. We used to be, but this is changing. . .I pledge allegiance to the new world that is coming into being.”

Perhaps the tragic truth of Nov. 8 has at last caused the beginning of an awakening of the betrayed millions.  Perhaps, like Koehler, they have begun to ask if we really want to be “the United States of War . . .the United States of Prisons . . .the United States of Poverty and Infrastructure Decay and Contaminated Water.”  

Whither now this collective awakening to what has happened to us?  Hedges: “Students were no longer taught how to think, but what to think. Civic education died. A grotesque kind of illiteracy—one exemplified by Trump—was celebrated. Success became solely about amassing wealth. The cult of the self, the essence of corporatism, became paramount.”

Ellen Schrecker, who has written the definitive historyies of that ugly epoch we call the McCarthy era, told Hedges, “There is an attack on the American mind.”  Trump, she said, “is the product of 40 years of dumbing down” the American people.

How shall we rebel?

Hedges: “We must begin again. Any hope for a restoration of civil society will come from small, local groups and community organizations. They will begin with the mundane tasks of holding back the expansion of charter schools, enforcing environmental regulations, building farmers markets, fighting for the minimum wage, giving sanctuary to undocumented workers, protesting hate crimes and electing people to local offices who will seek to mitigate the excesses of the state.

“We must not become preoccupied with the short-term effects of resistance. Failure is inevitable for many of us. Tyrants have silenced voices of conscience in the past. They will do so again. We will endure by holding fast to our integrity, by building community and by spawning new institutions in the midst of the wreckage. We will sustain each other. Perhaps enough of us will endure to begin again.”

We have the advantage in numbers, in righteousness, in veracity, in intellect.  Let us recruit, as we did in former times, the best and the brightest among us, the young, the idealistic, the energetic, and bid them run for elective office — for the school board, the town council, the county commission.  Let us speak on their behalf, ring doorbells, print leaflets, chip in pennies to buy ads, walk the byways, get them elected.  

I know  a woman who has twice sought office and twice lost.  She plans to run for another local office next year.  “I don’t want to be a politician who won an election,” she told me.  “I want to be a public servant.”

Let us find another three million like her, and begin the revolution by putting them in local office. It is our only hope.

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