“If voting could change the system, it would be illegal.”
“I can't go on. I'll go on.”
One's actions grow out of one's beliefs. Beliefs grow out of the ecosystem of our collective lives known as culture. In this way, cultures are organic: they germinate, sprout, grow, bloom, bear fruit, then fade in accordance with the climes and terrain of the times.
America now grows: paranoid delusions and wishful thinking. These are our national plant and staple crop, respectively.
A strange genus of the former has overgrown the land. It began as a small hybrid, a member of the Bush family, growing mostly in southern and western states. Some theories hold that its origins were in Connecticut, although, when it was transplanted to Texas, it spread, unchecked, due to the fact that there are few herbivores in the region to limit its pernicious growth. There, in the dry Texas soil, it grew dense and thorny, and thrived when watered with blood and oil.
Left unpruned and unregulated, it grew thicker than an ancient oak, larger than a redwood. It became a Paranoia Sequoia, growing ever larger in the hot greenhouse gases of global climate change; its massive branches spread across the world, casting a shadow of fear and revulsion beneath it.
And it has bore strange and terrible fruit, indeed -- as well as proliferate assorted nuts.
Unfortunately, its oily wood limits its use as timber that might be used to build anything constructive: Its wood is mostly suitable for crucifixes and coffins. Yet, due to its aforementioned oily base, it can be used to build a bonfire large enough to set the world ablaze.
At present, the people of the United States are lost in a dark woods overgrown by these sun-occluding trees. Some among us have taken to ingesting hallucinogenic mushrooms (the aforementioned staple crop) sprouting from the forest floor. Upon ingestion, they tell of having strange visions involving a covey of Democratic dwarfs who will fell the dark forest with their K Street provided axes.
In addition, borne of our desperation, many of us dream, two years hence, Prince Biden the Bland or St. Hillary, mounted upon her triangulating donkey of war, will come to our rescue and lead us from this dark and terrible place.
Such foolishness is understandable within the context of American culture: Our decaying empire has become an over-the-counter culture for legally medicated Lotus Eaters. Yet the effects of the meds are palliative. Prozac poops-out. Rush Limbaugh's Oxycontin certainties transmogrify into detox deliriums. The Republican Woodstock of the so-called "Clash of Civilizations" becomes the Altamont of Guantanamo.
Moreover, the comedown is going to be a real bitch. Heads will throb, stomachs will churn, when the realization arrives: we've become addicted to a corrupt system, rigged for the benefit of a few, ruthless corporatists -- and maintained and enabled by both our political parties. Accordingly, the lives of us ordinary Americans (who are dependent on this system because we have no choice in the matter) are no longer in our control. Somewhere along the way, our freedom to choose went missing -- was waylaid -- as we were pimped into wage slavery for the profits of the corporate class.
I must confess: I wish there existed drugs that provided an effect powerful enough to allow me to hallucinate visions of hope.
Instead, I will proffer this stark fantasy: I believe, at this late hour, the second best thing that could come to pass in our crumbling republic is for the total destruction of the Democratic Party -- and then from its ashes to rise a party of true progressives.
Now, I believe the best thing that could happen for our country would be for the leaders of The Republican Party -- out of a deep sense of shame (as if they even possessed the capacity for such a thing) regarding the manner they have disgrace their country and themselves -- to commit seppuku (the act of ritual suicide practiced by disgraced leaders in feudalist Japan) on national television.
Because there's no chance of that event coming to pass, I believe the dismantling of the Democratic Party, as we know it, is in order. It is our moribund republic’s last, best hope -- if any is still possible.
Regarding this, I hope I’m proven to be dead-ass, Flat Earth Theory, Warren Commission wrong.
How have I come to this despairing conclusion?
First a caveat: While I harbor little affection for nor feel any affinity with the corrupt establishment of the Democratic Party, I don't believe, as is the case with the present leadership of the Republican party, they're a klavern of insane, death-smitten apocalypticists. However, I do believe that a craven desire for power and privilege has transformed them into morally bankrupt, lickspittle, corporate stooges.
For this, I believe, they have disgraced themselves as well. Does anyone believe that the denizens of K Street have, as of late, begun enriching the coffers of the Democratic Party because the lobbyist class now harbors a secret desire to create a system where a greater diversity of views can be promulgated? Yes, and Jack the Ripper stalked the streets of East London because he wanted to draw attention to the wretched plight of underclass women in class-stratified Victorian England.
Ergo, regardless of which political party controls congress, the empire will continue to unravel. Corporate “leaders”, like feudal lords, will continue to ruthlessly wield power and have dominion over our lives no matter the outcome of the midterm elections of 2006.
The mind-shredding propaganda of the so called “free market” will continue to be our culture's defining mythos; its corrupt priesthood will continue to fleece their dazed and hapless flock.
and so called freeways will remain as clogged as the arteries of the junk
food bloated commuters, sitting stalled and stupefied in traffic, within
their grotesque motor vehicles, in the time-grinding limbo created by the
international petroleum state.
Official lies will still proliferate like swarming locust. As a result, the public will grow outraged and demand more of its own rights and civil liberties be curtailed. The poor will disproportionately suffer while the rich will sleep the untroubled sleep of the kleptocratic class.
As, all the while, our fabled Shining City on the Hill will suffer ongoing brownouts and power outages.
Amid all of this disorder and dissolution what possible difference could it make to vote for either a corporatist Republican or a corporatist Democratic candidate?
The runaway entropic decay of the present system cannot be reversed by political cant.
Ergo, this year, the voting public is being offered a choice between imbibing the Empire Lite of the Democratic Party or the Republicans' Empire Mad Dog 20/20. Accordingly, we've been provided with choice number one: stick with the Republicans and continue on with our planet-destroying bender (that will end in either the detox hotel named the Limits of Imperial Power or our being fitted with a toe tag in the Morgue of History reading, “Deceased. Cause of death: expired after succumbing to Acute Empire Intoxication Poisoning”). Or choice number two: the Democrats' covert flask-sipping, internal organ-rotting, problem drinking of the heady drafts of corporate corruption. In short, both of the two major political parties have been privy to the bacchanal of bribery that passes for business as usual in the present political/economic system.
A vivid illustration of the hopeless mindset of chronically diffident Democrats is their failure to demand the use of traceable paper ballots this election cycle. In this way, they're analogous to a timid, denial-ridden spouse whose mate returns home, with smeared lipstick and disheveled clothing, sans undergarments, reeking of Jack Daniels, all the while, defensively asserting her fidelity -- after an impromptu road trip with an outlaw motorcycle gang -- and her credulous spouse believing the whole episode has strengthened the relationship by building trust between them.
Yet dread gnaws beneath the surface of the collective awareness of liberals and progressives. What belies Democrats inability to agitate for meaningful change is: At a deeper level, they, as is the case with most of us Americans, realize that, in order to live in the manner to which we have become accustomed, we must continue our complicity in the crimes of empire. Hence, they realize they would be politically burned at the stake if they ever ventured to utter such heresy aloud.
For, deep down, we know that our actions are not only unethical, but unsustainable as well. Our minds have difficultly grasping this fact; its ramifications are too overwhelming. The knowledge -- that we maintain “our way of life” on the bartered blood of the innocent -- is too unnerving. Its implications are too damning; therefore, we banish such thoughts to the darkest regions of our unconscious.
It would seem: We can't see the forest through ourselves.
We whimper into the abyss for reassurance.
The abyss replies: “It's always darkest, right before ... it goes completely black.”
In this manner, we unwittingly carry the darkness of empire. Perhaps, if we Americans were to unburden ourselves of the illusion of our exceptionalism, our load would lighten. It would be easier to support the load, if we relieved ourselves of the weight of so many lies, self-deceptions and rationalizations, as well as the other onerous byproducts of our denial.
At this point, given the abysmal levels of mass ignorance, self-deception and delusion at large, are we Americans even up to the task? Or has our pervasive disconnect from civic life deteriorated to such an extent that a majority of us are even capable of apprehending the dire circumstances confronting the nation? (It would seem that not only have we chosen to ignore an elephant standing in the living room of our collective awareness, but we have chosen to cover him over with nondescript upholstery and now regard him as part of the furniture.)
My motive for bringing this up is not to be merely provocative; I'm asking because I'm chilled to the core of my being afraid. Regarding it all, I'm in the thrall of a sitting bolt upright in bed, quaking with night sweats terror.
Nor am I coming from a lofty moral plane on this one: I'm coming from a pounding upon the ground despair -- a scanning the line of the horizon searching for any signs of hope desperation -- a shaking my fist at the indifferent sky rage.
As you may have surmised, I'm outright mortified as to where we as a nation are headed, regardless of the outcome of Tuesday's midterm elections. Given the bender of destruction we've been on, our nation needs far more help than a simple changing of the party affiliation of our corporate enablers -- it needs an intervention.
But that line of thinking would probably lead to a seizing of power by an Oprah/Doctor Phil junta -- and the empire would still collapse, beneath the weight of self-help platitudes and positive affirmations.
Phil Rockstroh, a self-described auto-didactic, gasbag monologist, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: email@example.com.
Angela Tyler-Rockstroh is a Broadcast Designer/Animator who has worked with major Networks such as Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, HBO Family, PBS, as well as with Flickerlab on the animation “Bonanza” sequence of Michael Moore's documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11. She currently is a wage-slave for HBO, but in her spare time creates satirical graphics for Phil Rockstroh and graphics for Moore's forthcoming documentary, Sicko, on the subject of the American health care system.
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