If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention
I've been finding it harder and harder to write political opinion lately. Not because there isn't enough to write about. But because it's all so negative, and I'm just so damned angry. I was having a hard time even understanding my anger, which is the necessary first step before channeling it in a useful direction.
Yesterday I saw a bumper sticker with a message so obvious, it helped clear things up for me.
That's right. This is the message we must send to our Senators, Congressmen, Governors, Mayors, and other elected officials. If you're not expressing your outrage, you're not doing your job. Or, to put it another way, if your not shouting from the rafters with a bullhorn, you're part of the problem. And if you're a citizen, with the right to vote and the power to influence, an you just sit back and pay your taxes wiuthout becoming an activist, well you're part of the problem too. The bottom line is that in a mere six years, the Bush/Cheney/Rove clan has caused irrepairable damage to our nation, our world, and our planet.
I doubt anyone here needs to see the evidence again, but let's take a look at the obvious ones; the ones that keep me up at night: They've tossed aside the Constitution by disregarding clear limits on executive authority and treading all over States' rights. They've treated their own citizens like enemies through illegal spying and warrentless searches. They waged a bloody war half way across the world based on blatant lies in order to further a frightening agenda of imperialism and lining the pockets of friends and corporate interests. They've given handouts to corporations and the wealthiest 1% of Americans while making life more difficult for the rest of us. They've operated with such incredible arrogance, that the rest of the world has turned against America. In Iraq, where they said we would be "greeted as liberators" America is now considered by most to be the enemy. And in perhaps the penultimate display of arrogance and Cover Your Ass mentality, they have filled our courts with neo-con justices that prevent due process and checks on authority. I'd go on, but it just gets me more riled up. (Feel free to add more examples in the comments.)
And what have the majority of our elected officials been doing? Not a god damned thing! Actually, they've done worse than nothing. They've been complicit in the Bush/Cheney agenda to destroy what had once made America the envy of the free world. The problem persists beyond any political labels. It's not about Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, Liberals, Neo-Cons, Theo-cons, or other-Cons. Because memebers of all of these groups are guilty of the same crimes against the electorate. They've forgotten the mission. The founders didn't put it in the Constitution, probably because it just seemed so damned obvious: our elected leaders should adopt a version of medical community credo: "First, do no Harm."
OK, I'm rambling without focus. Focus Neal, focus. Perhaps the issue that most disturbs me can be summed up in a discussion of loyalty. Yes, loyalty is a great virtue and one we should look for when electing leaders. But loyalty to whom? Well, clearly the founders intended loyalty to the electorate. Our leaders should be held soley accountable to those that put them in office. Yet today our leaders have a very confused understanding of loyalty. They put the interests of other elected officials ahead of the citizens. They are more concerned about securing their jobs than they are about doing their jobs. They expend great amounts of effort to protect the interests of corporate lobbyists and wealthy individuals that finance campaigns, at the exclusion and expense of pretty much everyone else.
The Lamont vs. Lieberman campaign has been at the top of my mind lately. This campaign clearly illustrates my point. Lamont is the outraged one - a good guy! Like me, he just can't even begin to comprehend how Senator Lieberman and his cronies in Washington sit back and allow this administration to destroy our nation. Not only that, but when someone like Lamont has the courage (and the finances) to finally call "bullshit," the Liebercrats come to the defense of the criminals at BushCo!
Those that continue to defend Lieberman are perfect examples of misplaced loyalty. Here's a guy that goes on Fox News and mocks other members of his own party. A man that led the charge against Democratic President Bill Clinton. A man that constantly acts as volunteer State's Attorney everytime the Bush Admin. runs afoul. A man that DOES NOT HAVE THE SUPPORT OF THE ELECTORATE IN HIS OWN STATE. Yet every other major Democrat comes out of the woodwork to support him. They see it as a matter of loyalty. Yes, instead of expressing OUTRAGE, which is all Lieberman and those like him deserve, they offer up misguided and confised loyalty. Frankly, there are days I wonder if Lieberman has comprimising photos of every other Democrat in DC. For that's about the only plausable explanation I can think of for the outpouring of support he is receiving. Here in Connecticut we rarely see any regular citizens standing up to support Lieberman. Yet Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Chuck Shumer insist that we should keep him as our Senator. Senators, one word of advice: mind your own fucking business and let us choose our own Senator, thank you. Or, are you frightened that more Ned Lamonts will appear to threaten your jobs in DC too? Well, good. You should be scared. Shape up or ship out.
But this is about more than Lamont vs. Lieberman. That's been going on for a while now, and I've written much about it. It's really about the OUTRAGE felt by me and so many other great Americans right now. Sure, the Liebercrats will call us angry liberals and say that we hate America. That's just because they don't get it and because they're scared. If your friend is a drug adict, and you love him, what do you do? Do you support his habit or stage an intervention? Well, I love America, which is why I say we need to stage an intervention.
So, how do you stage an intervention for a country? Do we send the President to AA? (Hopefully he's already been.) No, it's called VOTING. We use the electoral process to CLEAN HOUSE. And by HOUSE, I mean the House of Representatives, the Senate, the White House (not soon enough), and even our state houses and municipal governments.
Yes, the guilt extends all the way down to the local level. When our Federal Government is stealing money from us in order to fund a $250 million a day debacle in Iraq, and to hand out no-bid contracts to their buddies at Haliburton, every Mayor and Governor should be expressing their outrage. Why aren't they protesting in front of the White House? Why aren't they holding rallies in every town square in America? Our local officials are under the misguided notion that the War in Iraq is not a local issue. Well, time to wake up and smell the rotting corpses. Did any of the soldiers come from your home towns? Did you cut education or law enforcement because Federal Grants didn't come through? Is your state going to fail No Child Left Behind requirements because the Federeal Government passed the law but then didn't bother funding it? Yes, the War, the crooked Adminsitration, and the ineptitness of our leaders (I use that term lightly) in Washington are all local issues.
All of this has big implications for upcoming elections. The Democratic Party is celebrating prematurely. The logic seems to be that the voters will express their OUTRAGE by voting Republicans out of office in November. The point that's being missed is that the OUTRAGE will be directed at incumbents - Republican AND Democrat. Americans are fed up with the status-quo of government and they're going to take it out on everyone. It's not about party lines or liberal vs. conservative. It's like lifting that plastic sheet on the magic slate and trying to draw a new picture better than the last.
The Lamont-Lieberman challenge is a case in point. I'm not saying that every incumbent is going to lose (see Harman vs. Winograd) but few are safe. And to me, this is a good thing. The only way to fix this country is with a Civil War at the ballot box.
So my message to anyone up for election this year: If you're not outraged, you're part of the problem. Either get off your asses and fight for us or we'll find someone that will.