Beyond Eternal Vigilance: Creating a Better Society

Promoted by GH. Originally posted 2008-07-11 19:59:29 -0500. Important questions and reflections...

It looks like the Democrats are going to be in power. Even my old conservative father has switched parties. The Republican dynasty is coming to a close.

So now what? Are we going to get the change we've all been hoping for? The signs are not good:

Congress voted to let the giant telecoms off the hook for allowing massive wiretapping of Americans. Barak Obama voted with them, McCain abstained. Apparently, neither value our privacy very much.

Obama has also talked of having Republican advisers in the White House to help build coalitions. This, in itself, is a very bad sign. A strong progressive leader would never do this. Why have people around who are going to sabotage your every progressive effort? What is the Republican message going to be? Simple: "We don't have the funds for this." or, "Now is not the right time. We have to take this slow." or "This is too much change and Americans will lose jobs, the economy will collapse, the gates of Hell will open up and all the Communists will rise from the underworld to destroy us all." Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

If you want to commit to true change, you need to surround yourself with all like minded people who will all be looking for ways to make social progress happen despite the obstacles. You don't bring in people who will fight you from within. There will be plenty of them beyond the walls of the White House.

It is with regret that I reserve judgment about Barak Obama. He talks a good game, but it remains to be seen whether he will actually fight like FDR did.

Pinning our hopes and dreams on one man is a recipe for failure anyway. If we are going to create a wonderful society, not simply one that is less bad, we are going to have to take the lead. And we start by imagining something better.

We have to move beyond eternal vigilance. It's not a good plan. That plan is just "keep the bad stuff out." We need to create a system that is far more resistant to corruption than the one we have now. This is not merely about getting universal health care or preventing surveillance abuses, this is about creating an environment where people with lots of money simply cannot use it to influence our lives.

We start by imagining the unimaginable. For instance, do we really need a for-profit banking and credit card industry? Wouldn't we all be better served if ALL those services, which by and large function in a very ordinary way, were not-for-profit? Does the ordinary securing of home loans and credit cards really need "new financial products?" We don't absolutely have to have all these private gatekeepers.

What about eliminating lobbying? Making harsh bribery laws and creating a special enforcement arm? What about forcing all the pipelines of our nation: cable, phones, electricity to all be non profits? What if we made monopolies completely illegal?

It's like this. Occasionally, a system will go into flux, like during the Great Depression and after 9/11. A window opens up and great change can occur because the old system has broken down and something new must take its place. If we dream now, if we have a plan, then when the moment comes we can seize it and play it out for all we can get out of it. But we have to have a plan and when the moment arrives we have to act.

When this moment arrives the enemies of social progress will be at their weakest and if we hesitate, they will begin to regain control and the moment will be lost. We must have a plan. We must be prepared. Dream Now.

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I think lots of people failed to recognize that BO is not a progressive.

John Edwards is a progressive.

BO's not as progressive as even Chris Dodd. If one understands that, and is okay with that, then one can't be so disappointed with the recent hard right swing.

But if one had hoped for more, then one is bound to be disappointed.


It's too bad we're stuck in a two party system. Ultimately, it's just a very small group of people who get to call the shots.

We've been watching the HBO series on John Adams, of which the considerable twisting of the facts made me go and dig out the McCullough biography to refresh my memory of what really did happen. (One tiny example: the guns of Ticonderoga did not get to Boston by going past the Adams' family farm in Braintree just so Abigail could stand in the snow and see them as the movie would have it; in truth, John Adams rode inland all the way to Framingham to see the guns! A larger example: In reality, Arthur Lee was the third negotiator in France and the one who vehemently disliked Franklin. Adams was cast in the uncomfortable middle. In the series, Lee was completely written out of the story line! And Adams' actual two trips to Europe were condensed into one, and while the series had Adams separated from his children Nabby, Charles, and Thomas the entire time, in truth both Charles and John Quincy (twice) came over as did Nabby with her mother. The only chld who never joined them in Europe was Thomas!) Ironic that the first episode of the HBO series makes numerous reference to Adams' famous statement "Facts are stubborn things."

Ah, the point to which I must get.

Adams was vehemently not a party man -- but his own man, with little allegiance to either Hamilton's Federalists nor Jefferson's and Madison's Republicans (states righters). By being so, he probably saved this country from a ruinous war by siding neither with the Federalists who wanted to take go to war allied with the Britain against Napolean, or the Republicans who wanted to ally with France and wage war against the British.

He lost his second term, but saved the country.

So much for the two-party system.

I wish there was a way to discover how many modern-day Adams voters are out there today.