In the past two weeks, I’ve been to Denver and St. Paul for the Democratic and Republican conventions. What I’ve found the two conventions to have in common is that both the parties subscribe to the politics of the possible and limit the terms for change and advancement of policies whether liberal or conservative. I’ve also found, personally, that I have become deeply distracted from any agenda I used to have and I am now caught up in the future of this nation in a way that could lead one to describe me as being deeply committed.
Let’s start with myself because I feel that the biggest problems this nation faces start with what we do. The problems we face and must solve begin with us. And as Ralph Nader says, it’s time to stop rationalizing our futility and it’s time to start showing up.
I can show up. I show up to marches, rallies, and various forums and discussions held in the Chicago community regularly. I’ve helped publicized antiwar events at school and in the city of Chicago. I’ve showed up to the city council to support a “No War on Iran” resolution and seen what the people face if we do not show up or challenge the faulty logic that politicians subscribe to. But, I have much to improve on.
For starters, it’s very dangerous how conscious I am of the fact that I have a set of political beliefs that are different from a majority. Even though I know what Ralph Nader, Matt Gonzalez, Cynthia McKinney, and Rosa Clemente know, I still hesitate to pour out a viewpoint in the face of members of my generation who have become enchanted, amazed, and captivated by the rock star persona of Barack Obama. I gravitate towards the trap Dennis Kucinich is in every day he continues his allegiance to the Democratic Party.
I should keep in mind what Matt Gonzalez said last night when he quoted Allen Ginsberg saying, “Be kind to your self. It is the only one and perishable,” and went on to say that we should not try to compute some fandangle mathematical equation and strategize our vote to figure out that if we vote who we believe in we might get this other thing that we do not want. He said this is a very cynical way to engage in democracy and I agree.
Self-determination, authenticity, courage, perseverance, and fortitude have to trump whatever egomania or center of attention madness we enjoy.
For myself, I have to grapple with the fact that someone I like may not have the same radical viewpoint that I do on politics and that I must, if we are to spend time together, be good to myself and share with her my thinking. I do not know what has driven her to the point of simply believing the hope and change Obama has to offer and nothing more is possibly adequate enough to warrant donations of money, poster hanging, and endless talk about bad McCain and Palin could be for this nation.
The danger of censoring my self in the face of somebody I wish to spend time with is analogous to the danger we face now because politicians wish to perpetuate their careers.
Politicians grant access to corporations to our government to maintain funds for their campaigns, campaigns they must run from Day One of their term to the day before the election and censor their political thinking at the behest of those which keep them employed. If I follow their lead and do the same, I risk turning into somebody I’m not and looking back years later to regret the shill I’ve become
And so, I must risk my social future for the future of myself because I know being true will allow me to engage in my community and radicalize a population at my college and in Chicago to politically engage in something more than what this system asks us to be involved in every four years.
I must follow the lead of my favorite political leaders who have taught me how to act politically and how to think critically: Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Matt Gonzalez, and Ralph Nader.
I have no problem writing to people about what I think. I have no problem with hiding behind an electronic screen and transcribing my thoughts to you about what I think. And so, on Monday night when my school holds a post conventions talk on this election, I will go and tell those what I saw in Denver and St. Paul and explain how each party found it acceptable to grant 50 million dollars in security to both cities to suppress freedom of speech, freedom to peacefully assemble, and rights to privacy, which may no longer exist since the PATRIOT Act and its expansions were passed into law but which we all believe are granted to us in some form or another by our nation’s Constitution.
I will plunge myself into the organization and growing of a Students for Media Reform at Columbia College (SMRCC) group that will show art students who create all forms of media how important it is that we challenge the corporate culture and government narrow-mindedness which threatens the open dissemination of books, music, film, photography, and works of journalism that the people must be aware of in order to maintain or work towards a more egalitarian and democratic society.
Right now, I know that the media reform group, which I helped get to Minneapolis in June for the Free Press’ NCMR, will be working to bring attention to the suppression of journalists and the press in St. Paul during the RNC. We will be working to organize film screenings and forums for discussion of media reform issues.
I greatly wish to challenge media, even progressive media. Ralph Nader said on Thursday night here in Chicago:
Are we baying at the moon? What’s The Nation magazine, what’s InTheseTimes, what’s The Progressive? They have all these wonderful articles, all these wonderful editorials. Have you ever seen them in the past six months mention the N/G ticket in anything other than a sneering way? What are they doing? Just baying at the moon? What are they doing with their lives? They just want to flush their indignation outward and have it dissipate. If it doesn’t cross into the electoral arena, if we don’t give the American voters real choices and voices and accomplishment and determination and perseverance and authenticity and honesty, what good are all their investigations and all their reports and editorials?