Sunday, June 15, 2008

Come On Up for the Uprising


On Friday night, I went to Powell's Bookstore to attend a lecture by David Sirota (another member of my generation). It was one of the larger crowds I had seen at a Powells lecture. Unlike other lectures I've gone to, Sirota had a cool powerpoint presentation complete with video clips and cool special effects to illustrate data points more dramatically (such as showing the sea-change between the 1928 election when Herbert Hoover won a majority of the states to 1932 when FDR did a complete landslide over Hoover). On the scale of literary lectures I've been to, I rate this one high on the awesome scale.

I overheard someone remark that David Sirota kind of resembles John Stewart. I would say that yes, they could probably pass for brothers. I had seen him on either "Nightline" or "Charlie Rose" recently but was only half-paying attention to it. I'm glad that I went to this lecture because it contained a lot of statistics and data that a wonky guy like me could spend hours staring at and interpreting what they mean (oh, to find such a job!).

Sirota's main thesis is that America is ripe for a major uprising like we haven't seen in a long time. He pointed to past uprisings that have brought one party or the other to power. In our lifetime, unfortunately, conservatives have had the upper hand, with the election of Nixon in 1968 in a backlash against liberalism's excesses and the war in Vietnam; then again with Ronald Reagan in 1980, followed by the Gingrich Revolution in 1994. But signs are such that things don't look well for Republicans anymore. Bush truly broke the bank with his brazen incompetence and massive giveaways to corporations, Wall Street, Enron, foreigners like Saudi Arabia, etc.

There is concern that the average American can be duped into once again voting against their self-interest, especially in regards to race and the persistent fear many have that Obama is a secret Muslim agent who will make everyone convert to Islam. I'm actually shocked that so many people believe that crap, including people in my own church. It just amazes me how people prefer to live and vote in ignorance and get angry when I point out the facts to them. I guess I just don't understand the mindset of a person who prefers to believe lies over truth. I never though Americans would ever desire that for themselves. We've seen how believing lies over the truth led to the downfall of the Soviet Union (because communist leaders really wanted to believe that having five and ten year plans for the economy was doing fine keeping up with capitalism, which left them far in the dust).

However, Sirota also claims to be the eternal optimist and thinks that the Democrats are going to win big this time. He made a few caveats, such as his insistence that he's a progressive rather than a liberal. I agree with his assessments on history. Mainly that Washington, D.C. is the last place to affect change in our country. To really change our country, we have to do it locally. I learned this lesson late. After my disgust over the stolen election of 2000, and seeing our national government do things I never thought I'd ever see it do (authorizing torture, detaining people without charge, violating the U.S. Constitution, lie us into another war, even concocting the most traumatizing scheme on the American people: 9/11). I moved to Portland in part because it's a progressive city that I want to be a part of. Thus why for the first time in my life this year, I've actually been more excited about the local races than the presidential one. I'm volunteering on a city council race now that Sam Adams was elected mayor (to be sworn in at midnight on January 1st). Portland is an exciting place to get involved in politics at the local level.

One thing I heard a pundit mention recently is that there might be a repeat of 2000 in which Obama wins the popular vote while McCain wins the electoral vote. I'm telling you if that happens, Democrats should not allow the Republicans to once again take office that way. It should be fought against, perhaps even with a threat that the Blue states will not abide by that result and refuse to participate at the electoral college election. You might have seen on the side bar the "Republic of Cascadia" flag that I have. As much as I love America and want it to remain unified, I also believe in the words of the Declaration of Independence that it is our right as a people to dissolve a government that no longer represents our interests. If McCain gets the presidency through fraud or similar to how Bush came into office, we as progressive Americans should not allow it to happen. I'd be fully in favour of Washington, Oregon, and California forming a new union, the Republic of Cascadia. I fear further calamities for our country if we continue down this path of environmental destruction, violations of human rights, illegal war and spying, etc. Remember, the president we elect in November will be the president when December 21, 2012 comes into the present. From what I've read about that mysterious date, the choices we are making now determines the kind of future our planet will have the day after that date comes to past.

As Dr. Martin Luther King so eloquently put it: "Where do we go from here? Chaos or community?"

I choose community. I hope you will too.

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