a treatise on democracy

i wrote this on november 4, 2004 and sent it to my family and friends. i revisit it from time to time, as a reminder to remain ever vigilant. and hopeful.

A Treatise on Democracy

I want to cry and rage and wail right now, beat my chest, rend my garments, pull out my hair and rail at the heavens. After all is said and done, I think the majority of Americans (clearly) are lunatics.

This last year, when I became more deeply embroiled in the political machine than ever before, I felt ennobled, energized and any other “e” word you can think of that means good. Hopeful and filled with purpose, I joined the millions of true patriots who were questioning our government and pushing for a change in the nation.

Obviously, the rest of the nation was taking a nap. But now that I have awakened I find it impossible to lie back down.

With our country deeply divided and the rest of the world becoming increasingly hostile towards us, I feel that our nation is on the path to irreparable harm, both domestically and abroad. How far and invasively this damage will spread, unchecked by our president and his cabal remains to be seen. The next four years will tell. I can only hope that by the next election, our country will be salvageable.

A period of reflection is in order; an assessment of where we came from, where we are at, and where we want to go. Not just as a party, but as a country. Then follows a charting of our course, a detailed map of how we are going to proceed. Without a clear path beneath our feet we are sure to stumble.

We must not wait too long, though. Fortune favors the bold. Let us be active. Let us be ambitious. Let us be audacious.

I am calling you to arms. I urge you to join me in doing everything you can to keep this country great and our rights protected. The presidency, senate and house are not only again in a Republican majority, they are stronger. More votes have made the elephant big. Let us not get trampled underneath. Here’s how.

The highest elected office has been decided. Many of us are not happy with the outcome, but there is nothing we can do about it now. We can, however, lend our time and talents to our locally elected officials. Their policies affect us here, right now, in a very tangible way. Because of the intensity of the recent elections, they are sorely lacking in manpower and money. We can work closely with them in the next four years to determine the direction of the nation on a local level, working from the ground up. Our city’s governance affects our county, and progresses to the state, region and nation. There’s a reason it’s called “grassroots.”

Go to a City Council meeting. Check out the websites of your local representatives. Learn who they are, what they have done and what they intend to accomplish for their constituency. Read your local newspaper. Be aware of the goings on in your town. Familiarize yourselves with the political layout of the district in which you live, and find out what topics are being discussed at City Hall. Engender constructive discourse with your friends and relatives. Find out what concerns they have about the nation, and brainstorm different ways to effect change. Be creative. Get involved. Stay involved.

We must educate ourselves on this term’s initiatives, and chart their progress. Many issues are on the table. Many lives depend on our actions. We must be diligent and unrelenting in our watchfulness. Our actions must be informed, and our spirits on fire with democracy.

Democracy is a precious commodity, and it is being squandered, squelched and any other “s” word you can think of that means lost. We must guard our liberties carefully in this next term, where measures like the Patriot Act have made Big Brothers of us all, whether we like it or not.

Millions of Americans continue to lose jobs to outsourcing. Without jobs, they have no (or, at an absurdly high price) access to health care.

We have become a nation of the working poor. Struggling to make ends meet, faced with increasingly high taxes, families live daily with the threat of bankruptcy.

The national debt has swelled out of control, becoming dangerously irreversible. This deficit will endure through the lives of our children’s children, and beyond.

Children are not only being left behind, they have been thoroughly abandoned. Schools are under-funded, and educators under-compensated.

Our environment gets progressively worse. Our national reserves are dwindling as our dependence on foreign resources climbs ever higher.

Foreign policy is non-existent. Isolationism and the relentless drive to create a Pax Americana endanger us needlessly. Hostility is growing and bridges are burning.

The war in Iraq continues to claim lives, many of them innocent. Our troops are ill-equipped, lack support and are stranded in a country in which they are reviled for their part in the “liberation.”

We are being grossly deceived by our government. As proofs of their deception come to light, we are left with increasingly little recourse to demand truth. Our rights and powers as a republic are being stripped, and the reality of living in a fascist regime creeps stealthily ever closer.

We must stop the devaluation of our rights as Americans. This means an increased responsibility for ourselves and those we care for. We must fight for our brothers and sisters, for our friends, families, co-workers and neighbors. We are in this together, and must not lose sight of the promise of a better tomorrow. Clichéd, I know, but the future we want must be battled for. It is out there. All we need to do is reach for it. It will not be easy; however, a tenacious will and the desire to be and do better will bring it within our grasp. We have only lost when we do not try.

To that end, I am making you a promise. I am committing my energies and resources now, at this moment, to not only push for a truly great Democratic candidate in ’08, but to do everything within my power to elect a man/woman/other who will allow me to again feel proud to call myself an American.

Our country will never be an Eden of partisan cooperation. People align with different parties for a reason. This multi-party system ensures a lifetime of struggle to maintain a certain balance, precarious at best. Our values are different, our ideals discernibly in contention. This does not alarm me, for if everyone were the same, what a boring world this would be. What alarms me is that we have taken our differences and made them into catalysts for divisiveness on a much higher level.

We now define our patriotism by our political leanings. We have forgotten that no matter what our beliefs, we are all Americans. We breathe the same air and take our children to the same schools; we are blessed with opportunity and choice. Let us choose to stand. Let us choose to fight. Let us choose to not waste time with regrets, but move forward. Hope lays ahead, a beacon in these dark days. We deserve a better world than the one we live in.

Please join me in this endeavor. I cannot guarantee victory, but I can promise you this; I will not go quietly into that good night. I will not back down from or be intimidated by those who would seek to rob me of the liberties granted to me by the Constitution. By coming together, we can take our innumerable strengths and use them to wage the coming war with purpose and conviction.

With this conviction to guide me, I will be investigating different avenues for my own involvement. If you feel the call to arms as I do, and wish to get involved, let me know. I will be more than happy to share what I have learned and help you find an opportunity to contribute your time, money, etc. in a way that you feel comfortable with.

We are in this together. For my part, I am glad to count you as colleagues and allies. You give me hope that I can accomplish so very much, if I just set my mind and heart to it. I believe the same is true of you. I fight for you, my brothers and sisters, my friends, family, co-workers and neighbors. Collectively, we can make such a clamor that the world will take note. They will hear our voices raised in integrity. In solidarity. In reform.

Here comes the revolution.