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 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 the mandate, illustrates that it was designed to create the next generation of workers who could read and write just enough to make change at McDonalds.

The countless examples of those on the Right who waved signs stating “Keep Government Out Of My Medicare” or worse points to a much more serious problem in this country: the ubiquity of the dumbing down of those on the Right.

Take a look at college entrance exam test scores. Since 1972, the scoring indexes of the ACT and SAT have been revised downward nearly 20 times. Someone getting the same scores today that I received in 1972 is a comparative moron next to my peers and me.

And, trying to explain the actual deprivations the Right is foisting on this country to a working-class Republican who hates the fact that we have a half-Black POTUS is an exercise in pointless frustration.

Yes, Democrats and Progressives have to frame their messages to resonate with a, shall we say, one-dimensional intellects more effectively. But let me give you an idea of what we’re dealing with.

Studies show that many working class Republicans continue to believe and vote against their own interests, to laud that which continues to enrich the top 1% of earners in this country at their friend’s and family’s expense because they believe they are reserving their privilege for when they win the lottery.

Miles “Talk About Having Our Work Cut Out For Us” Long

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 disengagement in the your essay work against an awakening.

Further, I believe that the puppet masters who have identified the fundamental fears, worries and anxieties of just enough people and then gotten big money to finance embedding those feelings deeper and deeper while seeking to spread their poison are controlling the message on both sides of the political agenda. Your references to Chuck Todd (and many at MSNBC) makes this point very nicely (or very sadly).

Let’s add the culture of distraction, and the constancy of the political drone as the final guarantors of a totally unaware majority….

Yes, Ad Lib, I am worried…still.

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 will not last. After almost four years of enduring actual laws that impose unwarranted restrictions on We the People, the revelation is now reaching across all generations. From the more than 16 million children living in poverty, to the college student, to families, to active military, to veterans and to the elderly – all have been adversely affected by the abuse of legislative powers.

Significantly, these legislative actions have also infringed on civil rights and have attempted to circumvent the Constitution. While corporative money wages a prolonged battle of appeals in the courts, there are untold numbers of citizens who suffer the consequences of these injustices every single day. – And for minimum wage workers, there has not been any increase in the federal minimum wage since July 24, 2009. That is an injustice that has been perpetrated for almost five years.

I think that We the People have already endured for far too long, the wake-up call has been ringing loud and clear. My hope is that this will be reflected in the November elections. If not then, it is only a matter of time before the revolution and the return to a true democracy.

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 fathers set it up to change it. We have to remember that this nation was formed in different times, but those that would try to keep it as their forefathers started it are reluctant to understand the nation has been flawed since inception. We have tried to amend the constitution, we have tried to fight some of the inequities written into the constitution in the courts, but those that would have this nation remain as it was in the 1700’s are fighting tooth and nail to maintain the status quo.

We will all win when we decide to begin using the same methods that were used to corrupt this nation to right the wrongs in this nation. Nothing else will suffice…IMHO of course.

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 lobbyists, down to the producers of pop culture, and the heads of news media outlets have figured out, through decades of trial and error, how to manufacture complacency.

Nirek asked the 64 thousand (million) dollar question. How do we overcome complacency? How indeed? I’m not learned enough to lay out such a plan that would even begin to show real results, but I do recognize, as you have Ad, that a proper awareness would go a long, long way to begin fixing this nation.

It’s an unfortunate fact of life (I sometimes think) that we can’t all reach a certain level of awareness at approximately the same time, such as, say, in one year or five years….etc. Life is just not set up that way. We are all born at different times and have different personal experiences such as early environment, upbringing, teachers, cultural differences, jobs, incomes, faiths, health, and on and on.

I believe one of the most very important things we can teach our youth, especially at an early age and beyond is that a democracy is a participatory endeavor. For any democracy to function even close to as intended, people MUST participate. On this site, I’m just preaching to the choir, but hopefully many others can and do visit here and hopefully take away something learned and can then spread that new awareness to others.

Our public schools are not doing enough to drive home the importance of participation in and knowledge of how democracy is supposed to function. We Americans are a spoiled lot, for sure. Our lives, even the lives of our poor are considerably more comfortable than the lives of those in many countries around the world. I’m not suggesting that we embrace a Spartan philosophy, but we do need to do so much more in getting the general public to understand that they live in “one of” the greatest nations on the planet and their happiness is in large part, an accident of birth.

You really got my attention when you mentioned spirituality (of course). 😉 I think the definition, or at least one definition of the term is very simple to understand and doesn’t take a tome of litany or scripture or dogma and so on to understand. That definition or one aspect of spirituality is to simply understand that we are all in the same boat. We are all made of the same stuff, we all feel pain and hunger, loneliness, misery, fear and doubt. Life IS hard, no matter the convenience or luxury one may enjoy. We all suffer loss, and pain and eventually, death. People need to understand that a rising tide lifts all boats. When there are less suffering their are more that are not. It really is very basic, practical sense. Unfortunately it is NOT always COMMON sense.

Well, I’ve babbled on long enough for now, and will leave something from my favorite source of spiritual nourishment, the Tao Te Ching;

#77

As it acts in the world, the Tao
is like the bending of a bow.
The top is bent downward;
the bottom is bent up.
It adjusts excess and deficiency
so that there is perfect balance.
It takes from what is too much
and gives to what isn’t enough.

Those who try to control,
who use force to protect their power,
go against the direction of the Tao.
They take from those who don’t have enough
and give to those who have far too much.

The Master can keep giving
because there is no end to her wealth.
She acts without expectation,
succeeds without taking credit,
and doesn’t think that she is better
than anyone else.

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 needed to know and gave me the ability to find out for myself what I don’t know. I have seen many children now though who – if they don’t know the answer to something – have no ability to find it, despite the amazing technology we now have available. Back in the day it was looking it up in an encyclopedia or going to the library. Today – kids seem unable to figure things out on their own. Kinda ended up a little off topic, but to tie it back in, some of the grass roots efforts need to be in educating the upcoming generation.

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 my rescue. Proof of that was apparent when we had the huge earthquake in 2011. As soon as the intense shaking stopped, no less than six neighbours had come to check if I was alright. They even came back later to turn the gas on again for me as it stops automatically in an earthquake over magnitude 5.

On the 15th, I posted this video on MB with this comment. It really disturbed me and for days I couldn’t get it out of my head.

Being brought up in a country where boys give up their bus seat for a woman or an elderly person, and we are taught to be respectful of others, I think nothing of helping people who look as if they could use some help, and have a few funny stories when offering to carry an elderly woman’s shopping across a busy street she was trying to cross. Being thoughtful about others and showing kindness costs us nothing, and I’ve said it often here, the rewards are priceless.

Thanks for bringing up the subject in your own special way. Maybe if we start caring more about other people, the places we live in and the people who are suffering there, we will care more about who is running the country and how their decisions are affecting more than just ourselves. Great work.

I found this French video clip extremely disturbing. There is no violence, just total apathy and selfishness for another human being in need of their help.. The man is an actor. The people who pass him by are not.
————

Le poids des apparences | The importance of appearances experiment

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SGPjUyVtTQw

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 to hold.

Gore Vidal said it well:

[imgcomment image[/img]

But it doesn’t have to be that way. As you said– we can use our heads, engage our hearts and act together. They don’t have to win.

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 ‘values voters’ are giving a pass just as conservative values voters did in Kansas et al. both ignoring the huge hit to the economy their respective leaders are making.

Here in CA Jerry Brown is much the same. Our state budget does nothing for those whose meager, razor-thin support was cut further during the past years of crisis and keeps them in dire want while he supposedly pays down debt with new-found income. But hey – he’s good on social issues liberals crave, so even labor whom he has trashed is giving him a pass, too.

These are ‘pragmatic liberals’. They may be the future of the Dems.

On the other hand, EmoProgs ignore this trend as well for, even as they wish to ‘perp walk’ bankers who caused the 2008 crash, they don’t seem at all interested in the overall health of an economy that supports them while continuing to demolish working class and poor families. CA has the highest poverty rate in the NATION, and only a scant few are calling for massive change in serious ways.

So apparently if we get our ‘values’ shored up, we can ignore racism, class strangulation, joblessness for the less elite whether we are white Mid-America residents on one hand or bi-coastal elites on the other.

Add in the massive split between the progressive faith community and secular activists – the spitting hate of the latter toward the former is NOT to be believed – that once was the bedrock of unity in the Civil Rights and anti-war movements.

Without our keen awareness of one another’s issues and needs, without a willingness to work together even when we’re not the same, without a massive return of respect for others different from ourselves, we are doomed. The split of the GOP will simply be echoed in the Dems. We can’t recapture a working democracy unless everyone in it makes an effort. This IS the goal of the Koch brothers and their ilk – divide, and they shall conquer. Only we, together, can make that NOT a reality.

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 some of them have told me they were going to go for it.

Ad, the way to get off oil and bring the corporations down to our level is like you say “grass roots” people getting involved. Locally, State wide, and nationally. Voting is our power and there are many more of us than there are of them. Apathy is our enemy! We need to get people fired up!