A Look At the Current Political and Social State of Our Nation
Throughout the history of the United States, there have always been periods where our political and social landscapes undergo great shifts. Every time one of those great shifts has come about, we, as a nation, have survived. Every time one of those great shifts has occurred, we have had doom and gloom preached to us from the mountaintop; and every time, those preachers have been quieted as we emerge on the other side, somewhat exhausted but ultimately better for it.
Sometimes it has been brought on by violent means, wars with Americans on both sides. Other times it has been brought about by massive movements of people standing up for what is right and good. What we see, time and again, is a progressive movement pushing against a wall of conservatism, usually beginning with just a few people but eventually with millions, pushing that wall until it moves back a few feet and we can breathe once again.
What we have NEVER seen, and never will, is any of these shifts brought about by voting. Not once in the history of our nation has a vote made a difference in the progress of our people. Protests, movements, even law suits, have all brought around great shifts, but voting never once has.
Now, voting is important – it is a PART of those shifts, because without the right people in office, those shifts would never occur. But voting is never the cause. More often than not, the results of voting is an effect of those shifts. More specifically, it is usually an effect of resistance to those shifts – a great influx of conservatism into the halls of our government.
This is what we see today.
This is also by design. Progressives are fought tooth and nail by right-wingers, moderates, centrists, and even many self-proclaimed left-wing liberals, though that label is deserving of intense scrutiny in the best of times. While some who place themselves or are placed into these categories will literally scream if told so, every single one of those people falls into the category of conservative. If it isn’t the Constitution they want to conserve, it is the status quo.
What many right-wingers will refuse to mention is that the intention of the founders of the United States was that our Constitution was not to be set in stone – that it is to be an amendable document reflective of changing times. To preserve this document in its current form, or to revert it back to a previous form, never to be changed, is the antithesis of progress. “Left-wing” conservatives, moderates, and centrists will tell you that they aren’t conservative, but their goal is to gain powerful positions in our government without rocking the boat, preserving the balance of things as they are, as tipped as those scales might be – they are conservatives of the “things are fine just the way they are” nature. They, too, are enemies of progress.
What none of them will mention is that those same founders of our nation put into writing certain inalienable rights, to be protected above all else as freedoms inherent to all citizens. One of them is the right to peaceably assemble so that we may petition the government for a redress of grievances. The foundation of our civilization, written in the very first amendment, is this freedom, to never be infringed upon. America’s founders were Progressives, and even they realized that voting wouldn’t change anything, and that sometimes peaceful protest was necessary for a people’s voice to be heard. That sometimes progress must be demanded in the face of conservatism.
This is where we find ourselves today. But, while we find ourselves in this position, we seemingly have lessons that still have yet to be learned.
The Democratic Party, failing to understand that their loss of the House of Representatives, the Senate, the White House, and the Supreme Court in a single day was a result of their refusal to listen to the voices of those warning them of their demise, is now pointing fingers at anybody they can find instead of taking responsibility for themselves and their actions. Their most diehard defenders, in the face of blatant corruption, proven unethical and often unlawful behavior, and disgrace among its ranks, are still, over a month later, blaming Bernie Sanders and their own voter base. They either don’t realize or don’t care that they are pushing away the very people they need to revive themselves. I don’t know which is worse, because they both result in the same thing – the death of the Democratic Party.
The Republican Party is failing to understand how a person such as Donald Trump could make his way through their own party to win, despite their best attempts at preventing it. But, they’ve begun to embrace him, seeing his victory as an opportunity to revitalize their own party, using the ashes of the Democratic Party as fertilizer for their own ground. They are also failing to understand that, as we already see Trump turning his back on his campaign promises, and in effect the very people who voted for him, and all of this before he even takes oath, that revitalization is going to be extremely short-lived. In a time where even their best candidates couldn’t put a dent in Trump’s support, opening their arms to him as he turns on his support base is party suicide.
Donald Trump’s election, and his defeat of Hillary Clinton, could very well signal the end of both major parties in America. And, good riddance, I say. It’s not like they are the only two parties, and maybe with them dead and buried we can find other candidates who understand that they work for the people and not for the corporations. As we watch Trump’s promise to Drain the Swamp get reversed by his cabinet appointments that will only serve to make that swamp more toxic, it is beyond evident today that now is the time for unity among America’s people. It is now the time for us to shed the “R”s and the “D”s we identify ourselves with, and start acting like Americans. The Republican and Democratic Parties thrive only by dividing us, and the government thrives by exploiting those divisions. It is time to stop focusing on what makes us so different and start focusing on what makes us alike.
A word of advice for those who live in fear of Trump and look wistfully back on the past eight years as some almost-utopian time where Obama was such a great guy for the American legacy: open your eyes. Educate yourselves. Everything you fear from Trump was only made possible by the Obama Administration, the Bush Administration before it, and the Clinton Administration before that.
People say that Trump will round up Muslims and Mexicans, put them in camps and prisons or deport them, start an information database to track them – Putting these groups in camps was made possible by the Indefinite Detention Bill, signed into law by Obama in 2011; fast-track deportation was made possible by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, both signed by Clinton in 1996; a Muslim database was initiated by Bush under the Patriot Act following 9/11, run by the NSA, and likely still maintained.
People say that Trump will use his power of executive order to start wars, and he might be irresponsible with the nuclear codes – We are currently in 7 wars under Obama, some of which were begun under the Bush and Clinton administrations; once upon a time, the president had to seek approval from Congress to send our military anywhere– those checks and balances were eroded by the 2001 AUMF and the more recent declaration of international martial law by the US Senate granting even more power over the military to the President; to that point, what authority does the US Senate have to declare an international state of anything? As for nukes, contrary to popular belief, there is no magic button and no president can just send them off – there is protocol, and while a president has sole authority to order a launch, it still must be approved through the chain of command. In the event that the US is undeniably under attack, there will be little resistance. In the event of an offensive spurred by an angry Twitter binge, the Secretary of Defense and the Vice President can take measures to stop it – and that would happen. If they want to retain power, there has to be something to have power over, and a nuclear offensive would destroy that.
People say that Trump will destroy the First Amendment, that he’ll outlaw free speech and free press because he doesn’t like what they say about him – they say this while the Obama administration has imprisoned whistleblowers, and has sought aggressively to punish journalists who publish information leaked by whistleblowers in an attempt to dissuade other people from speaking out about illegal or unethical acts by our government; they say this while the 1996 Telecommunications Act, signed by Bill Clinton, deregulated the media and allowed it to become corporate and government propaganda outlets; they say this as social media giants are coming together to target certain speech deemed “inciteful” under the guise of fighting online terrorism recruitment and radicalization; they say this as the media and the DNC tried, and failed, to discredit an information source with a flawless record as being compromised and influenced by a foreign government; they say this while the corporate owned media makes a push to discredit any source but themselves as “fake news”; while Hillary Clinton at an event honoring retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid just this past Wednesday gave a speech where she spoke of bipartisan legislation to rid the world of this “fake news”, in clear violation of the Freedom of Press guaranteed by the First Amendment, and nobody bats an eye because it’s coming from a Democrat and it isn’t coming from Trump.
People say that Trump will cause widespread racism and xenophobia to come to the surface – again I say that Trump is not the cause of these things coming to the surface, he is an effect of it. And if you don’t believe me, ask any Muslim-American or Middle Eastern Refugee that has lived in America in the past 16 years. Ask any person of Hispanic, Jewish, African, or Asian descent who ever stepped foot in America, and, hell, you can even ask some white folks – they’ll all tell you, racism and xenophobia have always existed in this country.
So, stop blaming Trump for all of America’s problems. He isn’t even in office yet. The problems we have weren’t created by his candidacy, nor were they created by his election. And they aren’t going to change because of that either. The only thing that will change this shit is We The People standing up and changing it for ourselves.
While we’re at it, stop blaming Trump ON other people – this happened as a result of the miserable Two-Party system we have. It doesn’t work. It gives us Clinton vs. Trump, and look what we ended up with. You say that Clinton would have been better – maybe, but only subjectively and marginally so. While one candidate in an election may not be as bad as the other, we are grading them on a curve, and the standards are extremely low – this is proven by the unfavorability ratings of the two candidates we were forced to choose from, if you buy that sort of thing. Me? I voted third party. And I did it in a swing state. You want to be mad at me? Go for it. Because your anger means nothing to me if you don’t have the sense enough to point that anger at the people who really caused this – the Democratic and Republican Parties.
If you’re really angry about the state of affairs in the US, fucking STAND UP. Go protest. Your Tweets do nothing. Your hashtags do nothing. Your Facebook friends circulating petitions that will only be ignored do nothing. GO DO SOMETHING. But do it in FORCE. I don’t mean violence, I don’t mean riots, I don’t mean destruction of property or endangering others. But millions of people standing up, standing in the streets, screaming and yelling and saying “We aren’t going to take this shit anymore”. Look at protests in the US. What do you see? A few hundred people? A few thousand? A few hundred thousand if
we’re lucky? Look at protests in Europe, in South America, in Asia, in the Middle East. What do you see? MILLIONS. MILLIONS OF PEOPLE IN THE STREETS. You want to say
protest doesn’t work here? It’s because we don’t know how to protest. But we better learn, and learn quick. Because if we don’t stand up NOW, then very soon there won’t be anything to stand up for.
– Richard Waite
(This is the text version of the opening monologue from the podcast relaunch episode of A Mostly Accurate View, published on Dec 12th, 2016. You can listen to that and other episodes on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, TuneIn Radio, or BlogTalkRadio. You can watch the video version on the AMAV YouTube channel. ©2016 A Mostly Accurate View)