Last Thursday evening, I read the following statement to a particularly well-attended 44th LD meeting. I did so for selfish reasons: I wanted those with whom I will be working to know something real about what I believe to be important. It has been suggested that I should share my views with a wider audience. To that end, here it is. I have since attended a lecture by Michael Ruppert, author of "Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil." I am even more aware of the urgency of having these conversations.
My two key points as of 1/13/05:
1) Responsibility to lead: I believe The Great American Experiment in Representative Democracy is at a turning point. The current Presidential administration represents the closest America has come to a truly fascist government. Republicans control all three branches of our government as well as the majority of the mainstream news media. Corporations wield more power and influence over our elected officials than is healthy. To the extent that the leadership of the Democratic Party continues to drift to the right in an effort to more closely resemble the ever victorious Republicans, they are failing to lead! Therefore, the responsibility falls to the grassroots. That means you and me!I believe the way we fulfill that responsibility is first to stay informed, and then to communicate with our elected officials, from Lovick and Dunshee to Larson, Inslee, Murray and Cantwell. At times we will want to communicate with our Republican representatives as well. If we don’t tell them what we think, they won’t know!In order to stay informed, we must pay attention via the internet as well as more traditional means. We cannot depend on the mainstream media to keep us informed. They are mostly owned and operated by and for the Republicans. Communication can take place via email or snail mail, telephone or fax. But we must be diligent in our efforts and clear in our intent.Who will be the next DNC Chair? Will we let Bush privatize Social Security? Is a flat tax or a national sales tax in our future? These and other decisions will be made with or without our input. I say with is better.
2) The conversation: The conversation is where it starts. I believe we must seize every opportunity to talk about things that matter. I am no longer interested in talking about so-called “reality” TV shows, what Oprah is giving away this week, or sports. There are too many more pressing things on my mind.There are a multitude of important issues confronting us today. A quick look at the Party Platform bears this out. Each of us must work to advance those we deem to be of greatest importance. For myself, I have two topics at the top of my list. First is something I think a lot of people are almost completely unaware of, and the other is an urgent, if somewhat sensitive topic for our country.
a)Peak Oil – Logic tells us that 1) there is a finite supply of crude oil in the world, 2) consumption is steadily rising and 3) at some point, consumption will exceed our production capacity. I am one who believes this problem is more imminent than many people realize. It is a very complex issue with implications not only for transportation, but also for agriculture, manufacturing, U.S. and world economies and much more. I have been told that there is no satisfactory alternative to fossil fuels. Even most of the so-called alternative energy sources are somewhat dependent on petroleum products. The main reason I put this issue at the top of my list is simple: if you are standing on the train tracks and you see the train coming, the first order of business is to get off the tracks. I believe America needs a two-pronged crash program: development of alternatives, and an extreme program of conservation measures. The Apollo Project is a step in the right direction, but not enough.
b)Separation of Church and State – I believe America is drifting inexorably towards a plutocratic theocracy, with only a hint of democracy standing in the way. (Anything we can do to reinforce the integrity of our electoral process will help with this.) My greatest concern is with the extent to which religion is being injected into politics. God is on our money and in our Pledge of Allegiance. The 10 Commandments are on huge monuments and small plaques at courthouses and civic buildings. At every “swearing in,” whether of a witness at trial or of an elected official, we hear the words “…so help me God.” And religious beliefs are being used more and more in determining who should receive political appointments. In some parts of the country “creation science” is part of the public school curriculum. Most of this came about during the 20th century. There is every reason to believe it is contrary to the wishes of the Founding Fathers (or as one author has it, the Founding Brothers), and is absolutely contrary to the best interests of a democratic republic such as ours! I believe all good Americans of whatever political or religious affiliation have an obligation to discuss this matter openly, despite the fact that it makes some folks uncomfortable. Let us keep religion in places of worship, in homes and in the hearts of men and women of good will. Likewise, let all matters pertaining to government and politics be separate from religion as much as possible. Indeed, it may be time to discuss a constitutional amendment to affirm the separation of church and state.
For more than 50 years, I was a non-player in politics. I have a lot of catching up to do. To that end, I will attend any meeting, make any phone call, knock on any door and engage in any conversation I can in order to advance my top two issues as well as many other very important issues. To the extent I can, I will assist anyone else in the advancement of their top issues. I urge all others to do the same. We must engage one another in conversation, being reasonable, honest, clear and persistent about what we believe. In my opinion, The Great American Experiment in Representative Democracy depends upon it!