Friday, January 10, 2020

American democracy: We also vote with our feet

     According to Gayle Greene in her excellent book Insomniac, sleep is very important.  According to me, I do my very best thinking in my sleep.  So when I went over to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco recently to hear a lecture by Peter Dale Scott, I couldn't really understand what he was talking about -- until I slept on it.

     Scott said that American history has been composed largely of various social movements.  Even the American Revolution was more of a social movement than a war.  "For another example, when the majority of Americans finally got fed up with all that wealth disparity during the Gilded Age, they initiated the graduated income tax back in 1909."

      This tax was originally designed to cut wealthy Robber Barons down to size -- except that now it has become graduated in the opposite direction.  You and I pay more.  Billionaires pay less.

     And after a good night's sleep last night, another idea just dawned on me with regard to current social movements here in America.  Let's take a look at our current voting system for instance.  What do you think about that?  America's wealthy elite have hacked our voting machines, smothered us with commercials paid for by Citizens United, gerrymandered us like pretzels, bought off Congress, stacked the Supreme Court, put a yes-man in the White House and even physically crossed a whole bunch of us off the voters' rolls.

     And yet.

     Even despite all these vote-suppression tactics, we Americans still arise from the ground up to vote with our feet.  We march.  We sign petitions.  We boycott.  We picket.  We strike.  We turn to alternative news sources.  We even sometimes begin to think for ourselves.  Yikes!

     And another social movement that is developing here in America is a new anti-war surge.  Our leaders in DC are constantly telling us, "You know you want it.  America's war on Iran is gonna be even better than Christmas morning!"  No, it's not.  We Americans are finally becoming sick and tired of having our money spent on oil-baron piracy in the Middle East and our kids coming home in a box.  And so an anti-war social movement is gradually building up again too.

     According to Scott, however, the biggest American social movement of all is about to happen and is now in the works.  Consensus is about to be reached here -- no matter what the pundits tell us or Washington decides.

     "And what movement is that?" you might ask.  The climate crisis movement.  Apparently when all our forests burn down, we can no longer breathe safely and our toes curl up from the heat, Americans are finally going to reach a consensus and join together in a movement that will cross political, regional, religious, class and even racial lines.  And then Americans are going to truly vote with their feet.


Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.