"Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them -- and then, the opportunity to choose." ~ C. Wright Mills
Holy Day of Obligation
It is classic Americana--for weeks and months, the pols and pol wanna-be's running all over--from chicken BBQ's to black-tie fundraisers and everything in between--trying to persuade total strangers that they, the pols and pwb's, know what is best for everyone. It sounds good--how they wish to 'serve' us and our interests, and make life even better for us all.
I used to love it--there was a heady rush in following my candidates, and cheering for our side, and just knowing that God in Heaven agreed with us and only if the voters on the other side could just see the truth! Then election night! I always took election day and the day after as personal days, because I would stay up and watch results till the networks and CNN began interviewing members of their janitorial staff. Then, friends and fellow addicts and I would discuss it all till the wee hours of the morning, at which time we would grab breakfast and tune back in to get results from the races too close to call earlier.
Even in 1992, with specter of 4 years of the kind of stuff displayed on the Little Rock victory stage staring me in the face, the tune from Fleetwood Mac ringing in my ears, I was not overly disheartened. It was my system, our system, this was America, I had voted, and by God, not even the election of Bill Clinton could dampen my pride. Okay--then, our work was cut out for us the next four years. Begin grooming someone who could verbally dance with the glib Bubba, and bring on 1996! Newt's charge in 1994 only confirmed my certainty that we would rebound and things political would rise to new heights.
By November, 1996, Newt had been neutralized effectively, most of it happening while his foot was performing a dental self-examination, and the Grand Old Party lived up to its name, introducing Captain Viagra as our great hope against the invasion from Arkansas. It was the first time I didn't take my customary two days off. I didn't need to take them off. I knew I would not, could not cast a ballot. There was something suddenly repulsive about the thought. Not that I was naive about the inner workings of politics, nor did I believe much of the 'serve' claim of any politician. But I had, until that point, somehow always held the hope that the system, and 'duty to vote' would somehow transcend the politics of the moment, and that America would be better for it.
Truthfully, I did keep a spark of hope alive, but the next four years, the 2000 election, and the events since, pretty much put the boots to that hope. Yes--I felt the moral and national indignation from 9/11--who could not? But there were several defining moments following that terrible day, that were almost revelational in nature. On 9/11, and immediately after the anthrax scare, who did the politicians serve? Those owning the many hands they shook to be elected? The babies they kissed at the BBQ's? The faithful who had signed checks to support their man or woman in office?
No--the government--those who 'serve' us, they looked out for their real constituency--themselves. Even if we grant a measure of confusion on 9/11, there was no doubt following the anthrax scare. Who got the masks and special protective suits and special filtration systems for offices? Who ducked and weaved and ran for cover? Who announced plans for a shadow government to survive and rule in case of severe attack?
It wasn't those folks at the BBQs.
Of course, it would be excused quickly as necessary to maintain the nation's course, and let our government lead us in the war on terror. After all, they knew what was in our best interests. Except, I had quit listening completely. Those in the heady confines of power in state capitals and DC have so little in common with those who pull levers and smudge computer screens this very day, and to imagine that I have a 'duty' to go do likewise to support a continuation of this mangled system, is beyond imagination.
I am sure that were our forefathers spirited forward in time, they would be duly impressed at the technological wonder that surrounds us in America. For a time they would marvel at what the pursuit of happiness has wrought on this blessed continent. But sooner or later they would begin to look seriously at the system, and see it for its true worth. They would consider the Constitution which they signed, and which was intended to be a living document because it made guarantees for the living, and realize that today, it being a living document was defined by how many mutations of it could be managed, or laws created that were diametrically opposed to the very document in whose supposed spirit they were enacted.
Imagine a former vice-president and a former head of Treasury viewing the political scene, and the unholy alliance of the government with the banking concerns and the Fed. I can only imagine the two of them shaking their heads over a couple of pints and realizing that if only they had known what was possible, the Wogdon dueling pistols need never have come out of their case.
They would see what I have seen. The 'shadow government' of the United States has been in existence for some time--its substance long since lost and forgotten. Like many writers and speakers who quote a Bible in which they do not believe, politicians now quote a Constitution that is to them in reality little but hemp paper containing some antiquated phrases about liberty, under glass in Philadelphia. I meant the hemp paper, but perhaps liberty is hiding out there, too.
The American experiment has come and gone. Whatever freedoms the people still might have as their own, are monitored and registered and taxed at virtually every turn. Government is, at every level, a means to gather in the labor and wealth of the people, and then instruct the people about new restrictions or monitoring of their lives. In the proverbial nutshell, that is what government has become in America, regardless of the 'party' affiliation.
I owe a sacred duty to that? I think not.