ows - Freedom Plaza

Massive amounts of time, energy and money are spent to manipulate Americans into thinking about political and social issues as the people behind these expenditures want. This is the tail wagging the dog in terms of democracy, agendas are supposed to originate with the people who then use their votes to elect those who will represent and follow their views. But the power of money has corrupted both our system of democracy and our view of democracy so that the game of manipulating public opinion has become what our democracy is now about. It’s become a kind of reality show where the cleverest liars may be more appreciated by our media for their success at constructing and spreading their lies than those who simply speak simply and truthfully.

And it’s debatable that we live in a genuine democracy. A recent Princeton study concluded that based upon legislation that’s been passed or not passed by the U.S. Congress over a number of years (consider the failure of gun control bills, jobs bills, immigration bills and the success of anti-citizen bankruptcy laws, tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy, shield laws for polluters and corporate criminals, etc.) we’ve already lost our democracy and are presently living in an oligarchy that almost exclusively serves the interests of corporations and the wealthiest 1% of Americans.

This has been accomplished as described above, through the shameless use of billions by the wealthy in manipulating public opinion and the votes of Congresspeople who are addicted to campaign contributions provided to them by the wealthy.

Chuck Todd famously tossed out that it is not his job nor that of the MSM to correct lies that are spewed in politics. Today’s so-called “journalists” now see their jobs as being sportscasters, they just call the play-by-play and rerun the instant replays of the most spectacular “hits” that they can find. It is irrelevant to many of them if what they spotlight is dishonest and/or propaganda, it’s all about serving the corporation that employs them, exciting the viewing public to get higher ratings and ad revenue.

So, at a time in our nation’s history when our Supreme Court has chosen the wealthy to dominate our politics and the press has mostly abandoned their duty to empower the public by keeping them informed about what is or isn’t true, in this ocean of corruption, how can the people find their way back to a true and responsive democracy?

There have been signs of revolt against our oligarchy in recent years such as Occupy Wall Street, protests by fast food and other minimum wage earners and historic votes for Barack Obama’s presidency. Though some have been awakened (or have never fallen asleep) with regards to our democracy and the need for protecting it, the majority of Americans still seem too disinterested to take on the responsibilities of citizenship, they don’t actively seek information about our democracy and take action to protect it. Many don’t even vote .The level of cynicism and apathy is quite high. How can those who see the urgent need to revive our democracy get the rest of Americans to become engaged on this?

By the way, as inspiration for Americans, Jason Jones did a report on The Daily Show this week on the election in India and couldn’t find people who weren’t politically involved in their election and adamant about the importance of democracy:

The key to recruiting the activism and conscience so needed in Americans may lie in the past.

The last era when the majority of Americans seemed determined to tackle such issues as good government and protection of our democracy from wealthy and corrupting interests was also a time when such things as women’s rights, environmental protection and peace were widely supported. The 1960’s through the 1970’s was a time of great social upheaval and while many marched for a better future, there were many old school conservative types digging a Generation Gap in the middle of our society. We had very polarized communities, pro-war and anti-war, pro-corporate and pro-environment, racism and equal rights, etc. This was a social civil war that was eventually won by the Progressively-minded (though not permanently as we’ve seen). How did they do it?

It may not have been coincidental that at the same time that the younger generation and others of all ages felt driven to address all of these social and political issues, there was a growth in the exploration of spirituality.

The broadening of the drug experience combined with the rubber band effect of young people in the 1950’s and 1960’s being repressed by conservative values, resulted in rebellion and an explosion of spiritual exploration. Psychedelic drugs and music inspired many to “expand their consciousness”, New Age religion became popular, the non-Christian spiritual beliefs of those such as Native Americans and Buddhists were valued and adopted, a whole generation was seeking truth and many of their parents joined in. And of course, there was the exploration and openness of the sexual revolution.

What seems to have happened is that many in our society, especially the younger generation, were undergoing a revelation about what could be and should be (which of course created a conflict with the older, conservative generation that insisted that nothing should change). Of course, the social revolution that the 60’s and 70’s brought about could only have happened as a result of people first changing their perspectives on their lives and values.

So the proposition is, it has to be revelation before revolution.

There are passionate people on the Left and the Right urging people to “Wake up!” and enlist themselves in fighting for what’s right for the future of our country. That sentiment might be a little simplistic and moot, though one could argue that many Americans may be asleep when it comes to their responsibilities of citizenship, it may not be as simple as asking them to wake up. It may require a longer process of breaking through the cynicism and apathy that petrifies around people’s minds and inspiring a more vital and heartfelt view of life itself and humanity.

Americans have become very isolated in a variety of ways and that isn’t conducive to a society changing. Citizens have retreated behind their computers, tvs and smartphones to craft a personalized environment that can be like a bubble which is protective on one hand but isolating on the other. Instead, might it not be better to break out of our bubbles and engage with each other, to become a wider and more inclusive community and in doing so, empower each of ourselves and all of us as a whole?

So, before we can get our nation and society to change destinations from Crazytown to Coolville, we need to first bring about a change in the way we view our existence as individuals and as part of the interdependent life on Earth. Standing in the way of that are those few but powerful who believe it is their entitlement to dominate the majority of people and resources on Earth.

The goal of the minority with money and power is to keep the majority divided, to keep the majority distracted or selfishly concerned with their own immediate interests and hostile, dismissive or disinterested towards all others. Only by this divide and conquer strategy can the few with power and money remain secure and not chased out of their dominating positions by the masses. If the many were instead to reject division, were to start seeing their own humanity even in others who were different races, sexes and sexual preferences, nationalities and religions, perhaps an insistence about protecting our society, democracy, environment and future might become more broadly and defiantly embraced. And if so, might not an undivided people be powerful enough to enforce their will upon the system that is currently monopolized by the few who have the most wealth in the nation?

A more holistic philosophy, as we saw in the 60’s and 70’s, one which expressed with no self-consciousness that love was vital, that we needed to live a life of compassion towards each other and the planet, seems to have been the basis and strength for the most positive changes that followed.

Might the revelation needed be as basic as truly connecting with the humanity that we share? Might that be the prerequisite for the real coming together and empowerment so needed by citizens to retake this democracy from the oligarchs?

We might not be able to change others en masse but if we emulate the kind of conscience and compassion we hope to awaken in others and communities of  people take on this sensibility, those that come upon communities like this could be inspired to join in.

History has often shown us that great social and spiritual leaders have sometimes helped to unify the people and eventually prevail over powerful and threatening forces. However, because of the power that the wealthy now have to disrupt and fracture society, to demonize individuals and groups that most threaten them, it may be necessary for such a movement to coalesce without a particular leader. And if that is what is happening now, as those being oppressed by the wealthy and powerful are brought together and recognizing themselves in others, perhaps a real change in our nation’s character could be on the way.

As Barack Obama said when he was running for President in 2008, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

If that’s true and all of the above is true,  change has to begin within ourselves and how we respond to the world…then others can change, not because they are told to, but because they see in others what they want to see in themselves.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/barackobam409128.html#h4ozel5V4BUOK5sa.99
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/barackobam409128.html#h4ozel5V4BUOK5sa.99
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/barackobam409128.html#h4ozel5V4BUOK5sa.99

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Miles LongMurphTheSurf3Aquarius 1027monicaangelaKillgoreTrout Recent comment authors
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Miles Long
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Miles Long

Can we really discuss this issue and fail to mention the ubiquity of the dumbing down of America? Why do countless studies show that the breakdown of political party membership largely breaks along intellectual lines? That is of course when you subtract those who benefit from the previous generation’s legislation as mentioned in the article. This country’s dedication to an educated populace died under Nixon when he declared war on the intelligentsia because the anti-war movement was born on college and high school campuses. An analysis of the “No Child Left Behind” legislation, coupled with the lack of funding for… Read more »

MurphTheSurf3
Editor

This is brilliant. Really brilliant. You make a case….but it feels more like a coffin to me. You say: “So the proposition is, it has to be revelation before revolution.” and then you add: “If that’s true and all of the above is true, change has to begin within ourselves and how we respond to the world…then others can change, not because they are told to, but because they see in others what they want to see in themselves.” I think that both statements are absolutely true BUT I think that many of the elements you list as causes for… Read more »

Aquarius 1027
Member
Aquarius 1027

This is indeed the question to answer regarding the current state of our democracy, AdLib. I agree that there has to be the revelation before the revolution. My view is that the revelation is already occurring. It has been overshadowed by the pervasiveness of propaganda in right wing social media and right wing Congressional speeches that falsely proclaim “All Americans want this . .” while the truth is far different. There is biased news and laws either enacted or obstructed at the whims of the wealthy. Both of these facilitate a vicious cycle of divisiveness and inertia. Yet this cycle… Read more »

monicaangela
Member

Excellent post AdLib!! I have to comment on the fact that not all of the minority you speak of are so hell bent on destroying this nation. I would have you look at groups like ALEC etc., groups that were accustomed to the laws in this nation working exclusively in their favor, since the 1960’s things have started to slowly change and those that have been privileged to date are scrambling to try to maintain what is now considered antiquated. It will take the same measures that caused this nation to be set up in the manner that the fore… Read more »

KillgoreTrout
Member

Ad, this is a wonderful topic for discussion. You’ve hit on some very interesting points. Big money in politics is a huge problem today, not that I’m telling anyone here something they don’t already know. It’s reach has infected the very core of our democracy, from presidential elections to congressional elections and even our Supreme Court. As George Carlin famously said, they own us. They control the judges, the police, the candidates, the issues, the “news,” and even our cultural influences. Our country has become almost ALL about money. The very wealthy, from the corporate kings and queens and their… Read more »

Nirek
Member

Ad, how do we overcome apathy? I think apathy is a cancer in the Democratic Party. People who don’t vote are voting against their own best interests. Is it ignorance? Or is it stupidity? Or is it just a feeling that their vote will not count?

NirekJunior
Member
NirekJunior

Great article. “[We are]…presently living in an oligarchy that almost exclusively serves the interests of corporations and the wealthiest 1% of Americans.” Very true! I think a large part of the change will need to come from better education – both in schools (as many schools are not doing well with teaching essentials, and I never really had a course in civics which ought to be mandatory) and from parents. There’s all too many parents who don’t have the time/will/ability to teach their kids civic responsibility. I was lucky growing up to have great parents who taught me what I… Read more »

Nirek
Member

NJ, we the people of the USA have the right to vote. We outnumber the 1% by 99% so if we can stimulate the majority of the 99% to get off their collective duffs and vote we could make the necessary changes in Washington.

The question is, how do we stimulate the apathetic portion of the 99%?

Kalima
Admin

Very thought provoking article, AdLib. I was speaking to someone here a few months ago about lost community spirit, and how it makes people react to everyday encounters with people less inclined to go out on a limb to help another person. Here in Japan, the sense of community and looking out for each other is very strong. We are a city with a population of 13.23 million, so the excuse that city people keep to themselves and don’t want to get involved is mute here. I know that if anything ever happened here, the immediate neighbourhood would come to… Read more »

kesmarn
Admin

A wonderful article, AdLib. If the American people can just begin to recognize how much they’re being manipulated — and on how many fronts — it seems that a stronger sense of solidarity would have to follow. It is sad that so many of the battles of the 1930’s (labor, economic) and 1960’s (civil rights, environmental concerns, women’s rights, and the recognition of phony, trumped-up wars and the rejection of the power of the MCI) are apparently going to have to be fought all over again. But the old adage about those who refuse to study history does still seem… Read more »

choicelady
Member

VERY well said, AdLib. I would add a sad note to all of the above and that is the way in which even those in fundamental agreement have allowed divisions to come between us. A recent story (http://www.vox.com/2014/5/15/5710402/andrew-cuomo-future-of-the-democratic-party) about Andrew Cuomo’s massive capitulation to Wall Street disturbed me a lot. On Vox (not our original to be sure), the article showed that Cuomo has the backing of those supporting ‘values’ issues due to his courage in supporting marriage equality, etc. all the while he’s selling the store with tax cuts to corporations, etc. that is going largely unchallenged. So liberal/progressive… Read more »

Nirek
Member

AdLib, whenever I have a chance to start a conversation with some person I just met, I always talk about the environment and solar energy. At the risk of bragging , I tell them about my solar array and invite them to see it. I’ve had some folks come and look at it saying they could not afford to do it. I tell them they can’t afford not to. I haven’t paid an electric bill since Oct. 08! I put the array in mid August. Paid a small bill bor August and smaller one for September. Telling them the story… Read more »