117.20 Northlight 65 EE (Earth Epic Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head: Kimya Dawson “Loose Lips”
I watched Vice President Joe Biden’s acceptance speech as the Democratic Party nominee for President. It was spectacular. He rose to the moment. But if you think this is a reason to vote blue no matter who, you need to know this: Voting blue is nowhere near enough on its own to uphold and protect our democracy. You have to be informed and aware of the issues, including some not reported in mainstream media. You have to be discerning as to where you get your information. And you have to be willing to criticize the people you voted for, so that they know that your loyalty to them is something they have to earn, rather than something they are entitled to.
Large numbers of Millennials and Gen-Z’ers get this. But it’s something that large numbers of Baby Boomers and my own Generation X don’t seem to grasp. It feels to me like large numbers of people in my generation and the one before joyfully celebrated the end of the Republican Presidencies of Bush 41 and Bush 43, and then promptly went to sleep for eight years. Because the person who was vote blue no matter who won–what else mattered?.
How many people sang along when Kimya Dawson sang in 2006, “So I’ll curate some situations, make my job a big vacation/And I’ll say FUCK BUSH AND FUCK THIS WAR.”
So Obama, who is blue no matter who, got elected. Has the war been “fucked?” No. We’re still in Iraq. We’re still in Afghanistan. And the Obama administration ramped up drone strikes to levels well above his predecessor, and extended the drone war to Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan. The U.S. also intervened in the Libyan Civil War in 2011, and left a failed state in its wake as well a civil war that continues to this day.
The only Democratic politician to, in essence, say, “Fuck this war” was 2020 presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard. And from the moment she announced her candidacy last year, and started regularly making reference to the “wasteful regime change wars,” the mainstream media labeled her a “Russian asset,” despite being an Iraq War veteran. Traditionally, any presidential candidate that wins delegates is invited to speak at the Democratic National Convention. She wasn’t. This snub occurred despite the fact that she immediately endorsed Joe Biden upon dropping out of the race, something that even Elizabeth Warren hedged on until later—despite dropping out of the race earlier than Tulsi.
My “vote blue no matter who” friends, did you hold Obama’s feet to the fire when he started ramping up drone strikes and other U.S. interventions in even more countries than President George W. Bush did?
Even worse, what did you do when President Obama signed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that put into law for the first time the power of the President to detain anyone, indefinitely for an infinite period of time without trial? Did you really believe Obama when he said he had no intention to use this provision as President? And why didn’t he listen to people who wanted this and other surveillance powers removed after President Trump won the 2016 election?
And why did a vote blue no matter who President who promised “the most transparent” administration refuse to pardon Edward Snowden after the former NSA staffer revealed in 2013 a very extensive surveillance network that was illegal and kept hidden from Americans? And ask Snowden, Chelsea Manning and John Kirakiou what happened to Obama’s promise to protect whistleblowers.
My point is that there is a vast gulf between what politicians say and what politicians do. We can say “nobody’s perfect.” I’ve been hearing that for years. But Boomers and X’ers especially, be honest. Did you expect a Democratic blue no matter who administration to embrace Orwell 1984-style surveillance? Are you okay with this? And what do you expect such politicians to do when you reward them with your vote without complaint and without conditions? Where do YOU draw the line, if not at Orwell’s 1984?
If any of what I’ve told you about President Obama’s record is a surprise to you, then you need to think about where you get your information from. Thanks to President Clinton signing the 1996 Telecommunications Act, there has been a rapid consolidation of mass media to the point where five or six major corporations dominate mass media. AT&T owns CNN, Comcast owns all the NBCs, including “liberal” favorite MSNBC, Viacom owns CBS as well as Comedy Central, and Disney owns ABC. Fox—well you know what cable media they own, but they also own the Wall Street Journal. Oh, and lest we forget, Amazon owns The Washington Post.
While YouTube is quick to point out that “RT is funded in whole or in part by the Russian government,” do they point out any of the media ownership that I listed above? Can you tell me with a straight face that while the Russian government impacts what is broadcast on RT, mass media owners don’t influence the content of their news channels? I’ll use Tulsi Gabbard as an example once again—I did a whole analysis of mass media coverage of Tulsi Gabbard and possible motivations for their coverage. Furthermore, what do you expect from Jeff Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post when his Amazon.com also has a $600 million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency? Perhaps quoting anonymous intelligence resources whose “revelations” could shift public opinion? Bingo.
I know many people my age who marched for nuclear disarmament but now believe the debunked but still repeated trope that Russia is the enemy for interfering in American elections (as if Israel and Saudi Arabia weren’t doing the same thing). What happened to your critical eye? It’s true that Republicans were in power when we marched for peace and environmental sustainability, but why do you close your critical eye when a Democrat is in power?
What has been impressive with the Millennials and Generation Z is that they are more issue-oriented. They are less likely to own any allegiance to a political party. Many boomers and a smaller but still significant number of Gen-Xers may criticize them for being unrealistic and “spoiled,” but how has that “vote for the lesser evil” tactic, trotted out since 1992, been working for you? Are things “less evil” now than they were in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008, or 2016? As for the quote attributed to Einstein that says, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” when are you going to realize that the 28 year-old tactic probably needs to be replaced with something else?
At this point, I lean towards voting for Biden because of Trump’s complete mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic and because the President has recently one-upped the Democratic Party’s hostility to democracy by sending federal troops to cities where there are protests, having unmarked vehicles and personnel snatch up protesters and take them to undisclosed locations (almost precisely what we feared would happen if Obama’s NDAA 2012 was used) and admitting to sabotaging the U.S. Postal Service to undermine mail-in voting. Assuming that I do so, I’m not going to celebrate a new day of politics if Joe Biden gets elected. I am going to join others in putting pressure on the Democratic Party from the outside. I will make it clear that until Biden and the Democrats demonstrate their commitment to democracy and the environment, they can expect my vote to go to a third party that is not electing candidates this year, but is drawing a lot of former Bernie supporters into their fold. Third party movements have often done a good job of forcing mainstream parties to change. The fact is that the Democratic Party is not going to change unless they know that not doing so will cause them to lose.
And choose your media sources wisely. One media source I highly recommend is the Rising program on the The Hill’s YouTube channel. I like them because they feature two populist commentators that distrust corporations—one of them from the Left, and another from the Right. The two of them agree on a remarkable number of things despite being on opposite sides of the aisle. and attract roughly equal numbers of liberals and conservatives to the channel.
All I am asking of self-described progressives is to be an equal opportunity critic of whoever is in power, regardless of party affiliation. Pay more attention to what Democrats actually do than what they say. Stop trying to negate criticisms of Democratic Party politicians by saying, “But the Republicans…”