I've long been accustomed to the fatal car accident of American politics. My response has always been pretty garden variety. I call it the Can't Look, Can't Look Away Syndrome. But lately there's been a progression - I just can't look. It's not that I don't care anymore. I care as much as I ever have, but I experience it in a way that feels passive and inert - like perusing a photo album of myself when I still believed caring mattered.
I know what you're thinking - oh no, this is a going to be a massive bummer. It's not. I promise. But I've got to go through a bad neighborhood to get where I am going. Hang with me.
So let's start by being honest. The political dialogue in this country is absurd - an utterly meaningless, terminally distracting American Kabuki of suited clowns, power junkies and money freaks. I'm sorry. But you know I'm right.
And then there's Bernie. He is somewhat apart from that show, but still imbedded. He's more like the chorus in Henry V:
O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Like the chorus, Bernie is able to stand outside the swelling scene, but continues to be part of the play by helping drive the action of an overarching illusion. And make no mistake, what we are presented with is pure illusion - a toxic fiction about ourselves, this country and it's people authored by a system with a vested interest in keeping us limited, helpless, ignorant and overly opinionated all at the same time. And what it accomplishes so effectively, albeit clumsily, is to distract us from the truth of what we desperately need to know - that democracy has been vanquished in America. We sensed it the moment they started passing around a document called the Patriot Act, which no legislators read, and when they established a Department of Homeland Security, at which no one even cringed. And we were certain it was over when Edward Snowden showed us the rabbit hole, and just how frighteningly deep it goes.
So where does that leave us? I mean if you accept the premise that representational democracy has no meaningful apparatus in the American political structure, then what are we, the people, to do? You see, this is the bad neighborhood, the depressed blocks, where the infrastructure crumbles and the fires are just bright enough to be seen, but not bright enough to light the way. And concealed in the darkness is all we don't want to know about our country but fear is terribly, irrevocably true.
So I get it. Why would we want to stay here? Let's bail, go inside, grab a drink, turn on the TV, watch high-definition politics and keep checking the scoreboard like the game matters because hell, that's what keeps it interesting. But the problem is that we are supposed to be navigating our way into a very real, very uncertain future, but instead have encouraged our politics to become a professional wrestling match. And just like fans of the WWE, we sustain it with a willful, Roman bloodlust that keeps it feeling real, but blinds us to our own embarrassingly engorged verisimilitude.
But there is another way. Bernie is offering it to us but only in the context of system that will never allow him or us to have it. If elected president he would need to fight his own compromised party just as much as the republicans and the resulting failure could trigger a sharp and lethal turn to the far right.
So here is what we need to bring fearlessly into the light from that darkened hood - the acceptance that our beloved democracy is broken beyond repair. Our republic has been breeched to the core by corporate power. There no longer is any difference between the United States Government and the economic interest that control it. We live in an Oligarchy where the terms our debate are dictated by the few to control the many. And no one we vote for can save us.
The good news here is that we need each other, badly, to create new systems and propagate a new set of human-centered principles that will guide the creation of these systems. In order to do this we need to turn our attention away from the false narrative that keeps us small and ineffective, and redirect it toward the largess of our shared humanity, toward a conversation that brings us together to demand a country, and a world, that works for everyone.
We can do this, but only with the permission we give ourselves. And that begins by accepting that what is proffered in MSM as a political dialogue, presidential or otherwise, has no relevance to us, a survivable future, or the Deep Politics of the Deep State that actually govern modern, American society. When we have the courage to reject the fiction whole cloth, we are free to reinvent ourselves, to occupy a new political space where imagination, creativity, love, brother/sisterhood, and our uniquely American ingenuity can fashion a bold, new version - an America wrested from the economics of empire and the illusion of choice - conceiving a great and diverse nation returned to itself by the force of our convictions and the character of our people. I don't know exactly how we get there, but I know it's the only way we can begin again.
So what I'm saying is this: turn that shit off. Turn away from the shills, the power pushers and the money junkies and look to yourself, your friends, your neighbors, your fellow citizens, and get curious. Ask them what kind of country they would like to live in. Ask yourself. Answer it. Don't argue - engage. Listen. Respond. Respect. And then join with as many of them as you can in the belief that nothing is stronger or more unifying than a nation of determined citizens ready and able to reclaim their rightful place. Let us all occupy a new conversation with each other, one that does not concern itself with power yet, but with a patient, full-throated endorsement of our highest, human potential. Once that's finished, we won't have to cloy for scraps of false power, we will simply be the power that changes everything.
Oh yeah, one more thing - let's do this now. Because I don't know if you've checked the time lately, but it's later than you think.