by Martin Murie
(Swans - July 14, 2008) I would like to add a comment to Charles Marowitz's excellent account of the current state of affairs in our nation, and to Gilles's, Jan's, and Joel Hirschhorn's pieces on "fringe" presidential candidates.
These Swans analyses place before all of us the fork in the road that we are approaching, maybe only two or three steps ahead. It can go either way, to the cliff edge (dictatorship) or the other way. These saving pathways are hammered out on the fringes, the edge and edginess places.
I am chronically hopeful. I don't think it's genetic; I think it comes from growing up in Teton County, Wyoming, hearing nothing but hatred of FDR and Eleanor and then witnessing the New Deal, with all its faults, notably its betrayal of blacks in the south, win again and again. Ordinary people voted; the reasons were obvious: The New Deal brought Social Security, rights of labor unions more or less respected, the Public Works Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps, Works Progress Administration, et al. These were all quick changes, in spite of the legacy of the twenties' Palmer Raids and the Red Menace propaganda getting rapidly into high gear.
It's true, as Charles points out, that we have been coarsened, not only by the returning Iraqi vets, injured in body and mind, but by the behavior of the elites; their murderous intents hard to believe, but there they are, in raw tooth-and-claw bloodiness.
All the more reason to support fringe candidates. The cautious betrayal by the Democrats will become legendary. There is, however, something to do about it. I'll repeat a story about FDR. Someone came to him, outlined a plan and the president said, "Good. Now go out there and make me do it."
This might be myth, but it could have happened and the course open to us is to build people pressure on whoever wins in November. That means moving boldly, drumming up votes for Nader, McKinney, and the others. Second, keep on building, keep up the pressure after the election, making the movement that does in fact exist much bigger. We do have a movement now, made of many local, and a few national, protests. The captive media has failed to inform us of these developments, but there it is, a basis for a mass movement that might emerge more quickly than any of us predict. The "Punctuated Equilibrium" thesis in biological theory can be applied to our dismal political prospects: slow genetic changes, then sudden upsurge creating new species, new evolutionary pathways. Applied to the political/economic/moral situation now prevalent, these upsurges are not the anemic changes that Obama and Clinton talk about. No, they can become real roots, and effective, shifts. Crises piled on crises culminate in a tipping point; we might think about getting ready for that.
Michael Eddins's poem, a new voice in there, accepting the beauty and power of wind and oceans as well as the "beautiful but deadly wolf," the "spider and its fly," the "innocence of smaller prey." Simple words, arms out welcoming whatever "the natural" holds.
That's all for now, from beautiful Ohio.
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