A Poor Substitute For Democracy

A Poor Substitute For Democracy

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Oh man. Bring in the zombie clowns: Scott, Ernst, Walker, Brownback, McConnell and, yes, LePage, the surreal results of older, whiter, richer voters going with their fear, greed and anger, and dark money encouraging them to. Even the bears lost. And, unfortunately for the haters, at the end of it Obama is still black.

For inspiration at these low times, Howard Zinn helps. Insisting time and again that "real democracy comes from waking up," he blasted the myth, especially prevalent during Presidential elections, that "the most cherished moment of democratic citizenship comes from two minutes of voting  between two mediocre Anglo-Saxon males who have been trundled out by big corporate and billionaire-run political caucuses" - both of whom will go on to only slightly differing degrees to tax the poor, subsidize  the rich, squander the environment, support corporate welfare and spend billions on weapons systems at the expense of education, health care, jobs with a living wage and other socially useful goals.

We will only have real democracy, said Zinn, when American citizens are "educating, agitating, organizing to budge the nation from its twin fundamental illnesses: capitalist greed and militarism." When there is, across the country, "a clamor for change."

We have seen it work. Amidst Tuesday's electoral hellscape there were key victories was leavened by some victories for marriage equality, the minimum wage movement, weed and, at least here in Maine, banning tar sands. There just need to be more. So. We begin again.

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y. Yes, there are candidates who are somewhat better than others, and at certain times of national crisis (the Thirties, for instance, or right now) where even a slight difference between the two parties may be a matter of life and death.

I’m talking about a sense of proportion that gets lost in the election madness. Would I support one candidate against another? Yes, for two minutes—the amount of time it takes to pull the lever down in the voting booth.

But before and after those two minutes, our time, our energy, should be spent in educating, agitating, organizing our fellow citizens in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the schools. Our objective should be to build, painstakingly, patiently but energetically, a movement that, when it reaches a certain critical mass, would shake whoever is in the White House, in Congress, into changing national policy on matters of war and social justice.

Let’s remember that even when there is a “better” candidate (yes, better Roosevelt than Hoover, better anyone than George Bush), that difference will not mean anything unless the power of the people asserts itself in ways that the occupant of the White House will find it dangerous to ignore.

- See more at: http://www.progressive.org/news/2008/04/6081/election-madness#sthash.9TFG16S7.dpuf

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