The Secret Plans...I'm Still Waiting
It's been interesting to see the response to my blog post about the Bernie Sanders campaign rally on Monday in Portland. Counterpunch posted it on their site which dramatically increased readership and debate around the growing critique of the Sanders campaign. We've had a bunch of really great comments here on this blog as well. As I told one woman on Fazebook who complained about my article.... "Democracy can be a real pain." Many would rather we just fall in line without question.
I tried doing that when I was a Young Republican who joined the Air Force during the Vietnam War. I blindly followed the crowd during the Jimmy Carter campaign for president when he said, "The arms race is a disgrace to the human race" and went on to build the Kings Bay nuclear submarine base in St. Marys, Georgia once elected. I've tried to learn over the years to separate wheat from chaff. (I also fell for Nixon's 'secret plan' to end the Vietnam War during the 1968 campaign.)
One man criticized me for expecting Sanders to have spoken about such "narrow interests" during his Portland speech. Narrow interests? US foreign and military policy which eats up 55% of every discretionary tax dollar - US military empire with more than 800 bases around the world - endless US war making on behalf of corporate interests - the Pentagon with the planet's largest carbon bootprint - all narrow interests! Excuse me while I faint from lack of oxygen!
One person suggested that Sanders was just holding back - waiting for the right time to spring his opposition to the US military empire on the unsuspecting corporate oligarchy that he acknowledges runs the show in Washington. I've heard similar talk about Obama for years - he has a secret plan in his second term to do all the progressive things he promised during his previous two campaigns. Now that the clock is running out on the Obama administration he must be waiting until the last couple of weeks to unpack the 'secret plan' for us. Similarly, I suppose, we should all be patient and wait for Bernie to offer his 'secret plan' to pay for all his social spending promises.
You see my big problem is that I bought the 'democracy line' fed to me during my early days attending military run schools on Air Force bases. I still believe that citizens should be well informed, they should ask candidates critical questions about policies (especially if they are not being articulated during campaigns), and that we should have healthy (stimulating and non-violent) public debate with one another during campaigns which results in better education and politics for all of us. Democracy is supposed to be active not passive.
But sadly in our consumer oriented society we been taught to open our mouths, tilt our heads back, (yes like a little birdie in a nest) and take the worm that is handed to us from on high. Many, many Americans have learned to do politics this way - take what the corporate media and the well paid Madison Avenue public relations teams feed us as the gospel truth and then go and spit it back out to our fellow citizens.
Like some others I now choose to do things a bit differently. I will ask questions, expect reasonable answers, and then I can sit down and do some deep thinking about what I have heard. I might even write a few blog posts to see what reaction I get to my own analysis. That to me is what real democracy looks like.