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Time to Get a Grip, America

Why do so many Americans feel disengaged, disillusioned, and disgusted with politics? Why is U.S. voter turn-out, on average, only a dismal 40%? 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 new 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 hundreds of 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 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.

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.

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. Never mind the impact on the environment and the climate.

Voting for business as usual is truly a suicidal choice.

Not voting at all is even worse, suicide by apathy.

As a nation, America has been slowly drifting into a weird form of collective insanity, exhibiting symptoms any shrink would describe as manic-depressive, delusional and denialist, not to mention homicidal and self-destructive.

It’s time to get a grip.

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