Raising Our Sights, Shouldering Our Responsibilities

By Dennis Loo

Yesterday the major party vice-presidential candidates held their “debate.” What did we hear? We got a script-reciting Christian fascist posing as a reformer and a fascist-enabler posing as a change agent. The same man who, as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, blocked other women from testifying who would have supported Anita Hill’s allegations against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, the same man whose party warns us of the dire consequences on the Supreme Court if the GOP wins, the same man who contributed mightily to the rush to war on Iraq, the same man who has for thirty-five years done the bidding of the rich and powerful, now wants our endorsement.

On the other side we have the self-styled champion of “Joe six-pack,” who thinks the End Days are coming in her lifetime, who thinks that the immoral war on Iraq is God’s mission, whose odds of becoming president after 72-year old McCain fulfills the mortality table expectations are very high, and whose stealth agenda includes formally abolishing the church-state divide and making the Hebrew Scriptures the law of the land.

What manner of craziness is this? Is this the best that this country’s leadership class can produce? Is that all there is?

Ladies and Gentlemen, step right in, the show’s underway! Step into the big top tent. You can have either the 1980s version of the GOP or you can have the 2008 version of the GOP! Lay your money down here, and you can watch the two-ring circus! Come one, come all!

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who can’t believe that things have gone so far, if you can’t believe that torture is now being openly and widely practiced, if you can’t believe that your government is waging wars based on proven lies, if you can’t believe that the one realistic choice that you have is between a candidate who votes for the telecom amnesty bill and another candidate who also votes for the telecom amnesty bill, if you can’t believe that your choice is between a candidate who votes to give $700 billion to bailout Wall Street billionaire thieves, and another candidate who votes for the $700 billion bailout, if you can’t believe that your choice is between a candidate who threatens to use nukes on Iran and another who does the same, if you can’t believe that your choice is between a candidate who thinks that Pakistan’s sovereignty need not be respected and another one who thinks the same, if you still can’t believe that your choice is between open advocates of theocracy and those who seek to accommodate the theocrats and accommodate the war criminals, if the rolling disaster of deregulation and privatization, adopted by both parties, are starker than ever, then I have a proposal for you:

Don’t buy the hype. Don’t throw in your lot with these plunderers and frauds. Do what is right. Do the only moral and only truly realistic thing. Do the one thing that has ever really made a difference. Express your sentiments publicly. Make the collective power of the actions of the people acting independently in the public arena a reality.

While the Bush regime has done and continues to do unbelievably horrid things and despite the fact that their deeds and words are so extreme and so disastrous that their popularity is the lowest ever for a White House, the opposition party and the “watchdog” media are in cahoots with the reactionaries in the White House. We are witnesses to one of the most dramatic and despicable abdications of responsibility in history.

How can the extremely widespread despair and anger at the government’s actions by millions and millions in this country be translated into a material force given this absence of leadership that has been so disorienting and disabling for the people?

Individuals who feel profoundly unhappy about what’s been going on must openly show their feelings. Those with the courage and determination to step outside the killing confines of the electoral arena, those who realize that the only chance of reversing this monstrous trajectory is through the actions of the people, must shoulder the responsibility in the vacuum left by the Democratic Party and corporate media. This is not an easy thing to do. But there is no other way.

Stepping forward now means being willing for the time being to be in a relatively small minority of those who have wrenched themselves free of the powers-that-be’s stifling embrace and the suppressive apathy of those too timid so far to do anything and who are now going along with the unacceptable and indefensible. The timid, the poorly or misinformed, and the misled need you to step forward, you who feel these matters most strongly. If you do, you create the conditions within which others can and will step forward too. In a time when historic crimes are being committed by our government, when the status quo grows increasingly absurd and terrible, the brave must act.

Orange is the color of resistance and a declaration that torture, unjust wars and irrational, anti-rational theocrats will not carry the day. Spread the resistance. Organize among your friends and find ways to help others come out of the closet of complacency. The actions of a few bold people with right and truth on their side can create repercussions far, far beyond their immediate numbers. Join the work of World Can’t Wait. Start a chapter in your school or community. Make signs and hold them up to traffic. Make flyers. Go wild. Be bold. Declare it now!