Saturday, August 05, 2006

Resistance is not Futile

I received a very thoughtful response to my posting about Frank Pallone, pointing out, among other things, that Pallone's overall record in Congress is an excellent one, from a progressive standpoint. I wholeheartedly agree.

What has troubled me for years, watching Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and other Democratic leaders in Washington, is that I don't think they are aware of the largeness of what is happening in America and around the world, and I don't think they have a historical sense of what's called for during times of power over-reach like we're witnessing from the rightwingers in power and the corporations they serve.

Democratic leaders don't appear to understand how powerful the political leadership of history's great social justice heroes (I usually cite the triumvirate of Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.) was, and they don't appear to have studied those examples of non-violent, and yet also not passive, resistance.

For example, I have been urging Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi for several years to lead a walk-out of the Democrats in Congress, and establish a second Congress outside the Capitol. I think that's the kind of boldness and refusal to cooperate in a sham system that is needed to wake up the citizenry, and they could use the freedom of their new platform to shed light - unhindered by Republican stonewalling -on all the disasters of the recent past and none-too-distant future, and, moreover, to give the public a chance to actually see what some of the alternatives for our future really are.

Instead, Democrats matched Republican contempt for John Conyers' investigative hearings with their own apathy. The controlling party relegated the hearings to a basement room, and only a handful of Democratic representatives even bothered to attend. The Democrats appear, to me at least, to continually to move their own positions perceptibly rightward, in the mistaken belief that the electorate really wants the abuse being dished out.

Maybe the electorate does; it's so hard to tell what people think, and what they would think if they had access to hard facts and reasoned opinions, and if there were any leadership to reinforce the idea that facts, reason, and informed debate are vital parts of true democracies and meaningful human life within communities large and small.

But most of the Democrats continue to support the same narrowminded mass media outlets that refuse to allow for anything more complex than a 10-second soundbite and anything more dissenting than different versions of "stay the course." They continue to undermine independent media sources, when they, the leaders, should be boycotting major media outlets, refusing to participate in the oversimplification, and doing all they can to increase the visibility and reach of alternative media.

I should point out that

a) I take the monopoly of the mass media very personally, because I can't break into it (if I had Thomas Friedmans's column for my pacifist writings, I'd probably be much more supportive of the status quo too) and

b) it's difficult for me to properly evaluate some of these things. I can't watch mainstream media regularly, because the commercials and the limited perspectives and the narrow range of information made available are too much of a timewaster.

For me, that's what it all comes down to: trying to make the best use of rapidly running out time.


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