Brexit, Trump & Sanders Insist: We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For. But Who Are We?

When faced with the madness of the world, I often get the impulse to just retreat into my own private little corner and raise the drawbridge—let the world go to hell, just leave me in peace! But of course, no sooner does such a thought manifest than I realize how ridiculous it is: there are no “private little corners” anymore on this crowded planet, we are all as interconnected as a hive of bees, and just as vulnerable to plagues, whether mental or physical.

I’m sure you’re aware that bees have been having all kinds of problems lately, caused by humans overworking them or meddling with their environment through chemicals. In one common scenario, chemically addled bees simply lose their way out in the field, unable to navigate their way back to the hive. Out there alone, even surrounded by flowers, they die.

Today’s very close vote by Britons to leave the European Union seems to me just such an addled choice, driven by xenophobia and the injured feeling of having given up too much for too little in the way of rewards. Sound familiar, Americans?

I don’t know enough about Brexit supporters to be able to analyze their motives—I am sure we will be treated to an earful of punditry on that subject in the days to come. What I do know is that this vote symbolizes—or even actualizes—a dangerous political current that we are facing here in the U.S. as well.

Is it pure coincidence that Donald Trump was in Scotland on the eve of this historic vote for just exactly the kind of political extremism he represents? Am I out of my mind to see shades of conspiracy in this series of events: UK votes to leave the EU… stock markets crash…softening up the US electorate with the fear and crisis Republicans have manipulated so well in the past…allowing the engineering of a Republican presidential win, with Trump or someone else at the helm, maybe Paul Ryan?

Oh, give me my moat and drawbridge should that ever come to pass! And yet I know there would be no moat wide enough to protect me or any of us good-hearted people from the danger such a scenario would represent.

The only way around this is straight through, with full engagement. I am heartened to see the mainstream media beginning to regularly fact-check the inimical Mr. Drumpf and trumpeting the fact of his constant shameless lying. But the general public, particularly of the Republican variety, doesn’t read The New York Times. How can we communicate to them the catastrophe they’d be inviting by allowing the Republican Party to have its way with America? How do you communicate with people who won’t listen to reason?

The latest episode of U.S. Congressional charades—I mean, politics—in which the distinguished Democrats of the U.S. House of Representatives sat defiantly on the floor of the Chamber, phone video feeds flying high, signaled not only these courageous Representatives’ desperation to be heard on the gun control issue, but also the tactics that succeed in our weird, through-the-looking-glass times.

Go ahead, Paul Ryan, you can try to shut down the official cameras that, through C-SPAN, would have informed Americans about this bizarre act of democracy happening in the heart of the U.S. empire. Social media is the new Paul Revere, riding at lightspeed to alert the populace, and it is much harder to shut down.

Of course, both sides are working social media. We on the side of sanity—that is, peace, justice, prosperity for all—must work it harder and smarter. It’s an all-hands-on-deck kind of moment we’re in now. We can’t have a Brexit scenario happening here with the U.S. presidential elections. No. Way.

Here are some questions I wish I didn’t have to ask:

  • Why are we allowing the Republicans to get away with stealing our democracy by not appointing a Supreme Court judge? Would they ever allow Democrats to get away with that, should the situation be reversed, with a Republican president making the appointments? We are we standing by passively and allowing this to play out as they want it to?
  • Why do the Republicans want the general populace of the US to be armed with the most deadly weapons a single human being can carry? When the Second Amendment was enacted, it was because at that time, ordinary citizens would often have to be called upon as spontaneous militia. Is that part of the diabolical Republican playbook now too? Think about that for a moment, you don’t have to use too much imagination to see where that scenario goes….
  • Fear and hate thrive on crisis. Could it be that what the xenophobic, bigoted haters fear most of all is a peaceful, just, prosperous world, where everyone is doing just fine?

They’ll tell you such a new world is impossible, but I know that’s not true.

We humans are blessed with extraordinary intelligence. If we chose to use it for the good of the hive, and each member of the hive, we would thrive and create a global civilization that would rival our greatest utopian dreams.

We are capable of it, and we’ve already envisioned it. We just need collective and individual determination to turn back the tides of hatred, fear, violence and isolation. We need clarity and dedication to work together, locally and globally, to manifest the better world our hearts know is possible.

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Bernie Sanders allowed us to see, in a visceral, lines-around-the-block, stadiums-overflowing kind of way, that there are a lot of us good-hearted people here in America, just waiting for a leader to call us together.

We’ve got to stop waiting.

In our networked, hyperlinked times, we don’t need a single charismatic leader anymore, and that’s what the shining example of Bernie shows us: that each of us can and must pick up where he leaves off, and do what we can—just as he always, his whole life, has done what he could—to remake this world according to a positive vision of social and environmental justice for all.

We can, we must…and we will.

Election 2012: Avoiding the Same Old, Same Old In the Redistribution of Power

Bravo to Maureen Dowd, who nailed the delusion of the Republican party with her typical biting humor.  “Mitt Romney is the president of white male America,” she said. Just not of the rest of us.

And—surprise!—we are a hell of a lot more numerous and, in an honest-to-God democracy, more powerful than they are.

White male America did turn out to elect Mitt their hero of the privileged status quo.  Imagine their surprise to discover that a status quo they thought undefeatable was already gone!

Karl Rove

It was interesting to see the little white men behind the curtain coming out after their Mitt-marionette went down in flames—men like Karl Rove, who flat-out refused to believe, on national TV (Fox News, of course) that his horse had actually lost the race.

It’s true that there wasn’t anything inherently “less Presidential” about Mitt than about that other wealthy political scion, George W. Bush—unless perhaps it was Romney’s conservative, highly patriarchal Mormonism, evidenced in the remarkable spread of his lily-white grandchildren—even if, as far as we know, he and his five sons only have one wife each.

Romney family

Both Bush Jr. and Romney expected the Republicans wizards to deliver them the White House with minimal effort on their part; and in return they would deliver the Supreme Court and the dismantling of regulatory inconveniences for Big Business, while keeping the women in the parlor and the help in the kitchen.

As Dowd pointed out, “the more they tried to force chastity belts on women, and the more they made Hispanics, blacks and gays feel like the help, the more these groups burned to prove that, knitted together, they could give the dead-enders of white male domination the boot.”

And so we did, so resoundingly that even the most obtuse of Republican strategists must have gotten the point.

Women, Latinos, Blacks and queer folk in this country make up a majority, and if you goad us with sticks and prods, you will see us turn out at the polls in record numbers to kick you out and get our own people to represent us in the halls of power.

The election of 2012 marks the dawn of a new age in America, when the so-called “minorities,” buoyed by a wave of powerful women voters of every ethnic, religious and even political stripe, showed the Man who’s boss.

No, Obama may not be the perfect hero to lead this charge, but as a mixed race American and a thoughtful man who obviously loves and respects his wife and daughters, he will do for now.

Obama family on Election night 2012

After all, as Dowd concludes: “If 2008 was about exalting the One, 2012 was about the disenchanted Democratic base deciding: “We are the Ones we’ve been waiting for.”

The newly empowered voting block of women, gays and ethnic “minorities” (a quaint term that will soon bite the dustbin of history) must take a good hard look at the hierarchical structure upon which the white male patriarchy was founded, and which it upheld so religiously for so long.

Our Founding Fathers were as guilty of this as their old masters back in Europe.  And indeed those who have studied colonialist and post-colonialist politics tell us that the biggest obstacle for newly emerging political bodies, whether they be newly independent nations or, as in 21st century America, newly emerging political landscapes, is that as humans we tend to replicate what we know, rather than take the risk of imagining and executing something truly new.

Thus we found, in state after state, the ideals of Communism crushed beneath the iron boots of dictators who used the banner of Communism to re-enact the oppressive structures of the past.

The challenge for all politically engaged Americans as we move on from Election 2012 is to keep the momentum going, rather than subsiding back into the same old, same old of structural American power hierarchies.

President Obama introduces Sonia Sotomayor

President Obama, over the past four years, was not able to resist the immense gravitational pull of the Beltway, although he did have a few shining moments of independence, like his successful appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

The truth is, it’s not only unrealistic to expect him to be our knight in shining armor, it’s antithetical to the spirit of true liberty and democracy.

The 21st century is about the redistribution of power in all its forms, including wealth, politics and energy.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, and we have to create change ourselves—in our homes, in our workplaces, in our schools, in our stores, and in local politics.

We have to change our relation to the natural world, which has long held the sad position of totally disrespected base in the patriarchal white hierarchy.

No one is going to do this for us—not Obama, and not even Jill Stein.  We have to do it ourselves, and the time to start is now.

American insanity

I admit to a feeling of dejection at being back in the USA again.

Same old callous attitude towards women vomiting out of the Republican Party (“legitimate rape,” my ass!).  Same old desperate pleas for money from the Democrats, who are forced to beg for funds from small fry like me to try to compete with the billionaire Republican funders.  Same old blithe disconnect between the reality of climate change (drought, anyone?) and the steady roar of the fracking drills in Pennsylvania and the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.  Shrimp and fish turning up grotesquely deformed by tumors, eyeless and burned, for hundreds of miles around the BP spill.  Whatever.

Not that things were paradise in Canada.  The crash of the fish populations there is alarming, and they too are involved in the dirtiest of business in the Alberta boreal forest (which I refuse to call by the euphemism “tar sands,” implying as it does that there’s nothing there worth saving).  They clearcut forests and pollute rivers and all the rest of it.

But from just a few weeks of tuning into the media there, I can tell that there is much more clarity and focus there on environmental issues.  Every single issue of the Halifax Chronicle Herald has at least one article, and usually several, about energy or agricultural or fishery policy in relation to climate change.  They are actually working towards meeting the goal they set for themselves of generating 15% of the nation’s energy needs by renewable means by 2020, and many are calling for a more ambitious target.

Coming across the land bridge into Nova Scotia one is now greeted by a newly erected forest of huge wind turbines, and there are water turbines churning in the nearby waters of the Bay of Fundy, too.  Many more are in the works.

Although there is political strife in Canada, such as has boiled up in Quebec in recent months, there is none of the viperous, self-destructive attack politics that goes by the bland name of “the election year cycle” here in the States.  Politicians campaign on the issues rather than on smearing and sniping at each other. Voter turnout is about 60%, as compared to the dismal 40% in the U.S.

Why do so many people feel disengaged, disillusioned, and disgusted with politics here in the U.S.?  Why do we feel like no matter how we vote, our values will not be reflected in Washington?

Because it’s true.

I happen to believe that Barack Obama shares my values.  I believe he is a genuinely caring, ethical man who sincerely wants to create a country in which politicians collaborate rather than backstab each other; in which government and corporations serve the public good; in which the goal of economic activity is raising all boats, rather than creating a few luxury liners for the richest 1% of Americans.  I believe he’s a good man.

And yet, he has been unable to make a dent in politics as usual in Washington.  The Republicans have shown repeatedly that they are the party of the wealthy boardrooms of Big Business and Big Finance, and since they own so much of the news media, and so many think tanks, and so many political seats, including Supreme Court seats, well, they can do as they wish and everyone else be damned.

I have noticed a certain grim set to Obama’s jaw in the last year, as the reality of his fly-in-the-web position has sunk in.  He knows that even if he wins re-election, he will be foiled at every turn.  And it doesn’t help that it’s getting harder and harder for him to inspire his base—people like me who are beyond frustrated with the status quo, and no longer believe he and his team can make a change.

When I get those daily emails from Democratic headquarters pressing me to donate to the campaign (just $12!), and then I hear about how the Koch brothers are donating millions to the Romney campaign, the little sprout of hope that springs eternal in me just starts to wither.

Yes, if 100 million Americans donated $12 to Obama it would make a big difference.  But frankly I would rather see some savvy crowdsourcing through social media, with the goal less raising money to burn up on TV than getting more people out to the polls on election day, and empowering ordinary Americans to rise up and insist on real representation in Washington.

I am not interested in betting on the horse race.  I can’t sanction the wasteful spending of huge sums on campaigning, while our planet burns and billions of people are locked in poverty.

Romney will be bad—very, very bad—for the health of the environment and all living things, including humans.

He, and all the slimy bastards who prop him up, must be defeated.

But this battle is about much more than just one country’s Presidential race.  It’s about our future on this planet.  A vote for Romney is a vote for business as usual, and then some—drill, baby, drill.

Why is it that so many Americans are so suicidal?

Maybe we need some collective social therapy more than anything else.

It really does seem that as a nation, we are insane.

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