Archive for the ‘Beginnings’ Category

What IS a Cosmetic Democracy?

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

A line of light silt and dust is pushed off the stage by a person wielding a wide broom, leaving traces behind; what’s captured is then scooped up into a pan, and dropped unceremoniously into the plastic can in the corner.

Lights come on brighter as players take their places, shuffle papers, check their hair and their mike units, and look nervously at their watches. The show is about to begin.

Debates, televised across the nation, with polls, running totals of donations, talk of swing states, tv & radio ads, candidate visits, the approaching election dates. The required essence of a democratic society. Right? With all the players and pieces in place, the show goes on.

Is that what democracy is … or what it’s been reduced to? The ingredients of a prolonged electoral show … or is it something else? Is there something missing, perhaps forgotten, something not “covered”?

While some of those readily recognizable elements of TelevisedElectionTime may have importance in the carrying out of the process, the true essence of democracy lies elsewhere for sure. It’s an invisible spirit, a shared belief and desire for the best in us as humans to come forth from our minds and hearts and find sufficient common ground to move forward together in fairness, and not at each other’s throats like cave dwellers fighting over a scrap of meat.

Sad to say, what we have in America today is much more of the show than the substance. Those in positions to lead (or at least give orders and wield power) are more than happy to content themselves with promoting the two-dimensional cardboard cut-out of the figments of democracy to substitute for the real thing. It is a far easier task when one has near total domination of the means of mass communication to produce the look-and-feel show of democracy than have to contend with messy thoughts and desires of actual people who may, in fact, hold ideas very different than those who are producing the show.

As long as at least some of the public are willing on selected dates to line up and deposit what they believe are their choices into some device, it’s enough to present something for the world to see. Candidates. Electoral Calendar. Speeches. Fundraisers. Campaigns. Are any of the deep concerns of the citizens being discussed or debated? Perhaps. It’s by no means a prerequisite in a Cosmetic Democracy.

Bernie – the ‘maverick’ Senator?

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

When talking about Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, a lot of people got it wrong. Bernie’s not a “maverick.”

That’s just a construct of the Punditocracy that is in total ideological lock-down. They couldn’t see, recognize or embrace a new, live idea if it disrobed in front of them.

Bernie, if anything, perfectly embodies the American spirit of innovation and justice.

Since some decrepit gatekeepers left over from the Robber Barons decided that any actions in favor of the common good rather than individual advancement was sinful atheistic social/communism, many of us have fallen prey to the fiction that working for the common good was somehow UnAmerican.

A brief look at today’s world under the horror/terror regime of Bush/Cheney/Halliburton/Enron and all the misery it brings and portends for this planet and how it is shredding the most minimal of our rights here at home, ought to recognize that Bernie Sanders represents the very BEST of homegrown American spirit.

It is caring, rugged individualism in service to us all that represents us at our best, at a time when it is in great jeopardy. Think of Sinclair, La Follette, the Roosevelts to some measure, Jefferson, Franklin.

The term “maverick” itself has come to mean anyone not with the program, on the inside, on the take.

It is really the arrogant heirs to the Robber Barons who are “not with the program” of human rights and progress, the advancement of knowledge, science and civilization who are mavericks. They stand, bewildered on the outside, living as brutes in the caves, looking for ever bigger clubs to use upon the intelligent ones they seek to subdue, for they cannot comprehend their free and fair spirit.

We have been fooled. Bernie is no maverick. He is a shining light of human imagination tempered with compassion and intelligence. It is time we started listening and emulating. In our Senate, he is literally one in a hundred. But it is the other 99 who are the mavericks, who have strayed far afield.

He is our Mr. Smith … in Washington. We should all pay attention to him.