How many more lies must we listen to and how many more political scandals must we endure before we become sick enough to demand effective changes in our government? Have we suffered enough to force us through a political "evolution" to safeguard our freedoms in this country and to avoid committing war crimes against others?
In Washington-s Crossing, an excellent history of the near failure of the American Revolution in the winter of 1776, David Hackett Fischer concluded that it was not Washington-s leadership or the victories at Trenton and Princeton that saved the revolution following his resounding defeat in New York City. Rather, the victories resulted from the revival of spirit that arose among the ordinary people in the Delaware Valley as they began to read Thomas Paine-s American Crisis.
According to Fischer, "This great revival grew from defeat, not from victory. The awakening was a response to a disaster. Doctor Benjamin Rush, who had a major role in the event, believed that this was the way a free public would always work, and the American republic in particular. He thought it was a national habit of the American people (maybe all free people) not to deal with a difficult problem until it was nearly impossible."
Although we are calculating the cost in thousands of lives and billions of dollars, we cannot imagine the full extent of damage that will flow from our president-s having misled our nation into an illegal war with Iraq and our innocent troops into the commission of war crimes. We must pay attention to his threats and fear he will launch another -preemptive- war, dropping nuclear -bunker busters- on Iran just in time to save the fall Congressional elections for the Republicans.
Increasingly, we can perceive the extent of devastation to our economy, as our president throws away our hard-earned money, eliminates taxes for his wealthy friends, runs up debts for our children and grandchildren to pay in the future, tries to destroy our Social Security, encourages the shipment of American jobs out of the country, and allows the international value of our currency to depreciate.
All of us, liberals and conservatives, are going to be increasingly harmed by the failures of our government and those we-ve allegedly elected to run it. We must anticipate there are more lies on their lips waiting to be told, even more ugly secrets waiting to be uncovered and even worse scandals yet to unfold.
The good news is that the American people remain the best, the bravest, and the brightest our human civilization has ever produced. America is the promised land - we are an amalgamation of all races and all cultures on Earth. We will survive and, ultimately, we will achieve a government that better cares for us and is less threatening to the rest of the world. The bad news is that we will have to go through hell to get there. So, how do we brave the flames?
A National Policy Referendum
Perhaps the most basic problem with our government today is that, irrespective of the party in power, it primarily responds to the demands of large corporations and moneyed special interest groups, rather than respecting the hopes and aspirations of ordinary workers and small businesses.
Every four years the two main political parties construct "platforms" to serve as publicity gimmicks to get their candidate elected. After the election, both parties generally ignore the policies they set forth in their platforms and begin to take care of themselves and their financial supporters, rather than to do what they said they were going to do for the rest of us. The process is supposed to result in policies that reflect the interests of the voters, but it is a scandal at best. At worst, it is a continuing political disaster.
Access by individuals to their elected officials is the foundation of a republican form of government. However, the election of our representatives is now more dependent upon massive expenditures of campaign contributions from their corporate sponsors, their wealthy friends, and well-funded, single-issue, special interest groups rather than upon a meaningful vote by an informed electorate.
Last year, special interest groups spent well over $2 billion just to lobby the federal government. While there are allegedly some limits on campaign contributions, there are no restraints on institutional schmoozing. The Tom De Lay - Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, arrest of Bush-s procurement official, illegal contributions by Freddie Mac, and Congressman Cunningham-s bribery conviction represent just the tip of the iceberg.
No matter how deeply we ordinary citizens dig into our pockets, we cannot financially compete with the powerful special interests. No matter how well we organize, we cannot match the influence of the financial and political insiders. No matter how often we march and picket, they will always beat us through the side door into the corridors of power.
Not only are we are no longer represented; we have also been stripped of Constitutional protections we once enjoyed. Thoughtful people of every political persuasion are increasingly alarmed about the reductions in freedom we have passively accepted in response to 9/11. Many of us, irrespective of party or political beliefs, now question whether the Bill of Rights will survive another terrorist attack, which is sure to come.
Since we have been abandoned by our government, we must collectively focus upon a peaceful method to modify our government to one which more attentively considers the needs and protection of all voters, whether Republican, Democrat, Reform, Libertarian, Green or Independent. An intolerant, non-responsive and repressive government cannot endure. The choice is whether political change results from a violent revolution or a peaceful evolution, from a revolt or an evolt.