All right, summer is over (despite four weeks remaining till the equinox). It is time to kick off the sand, put on our shoes and see to our civilization.
Please. Even if you are a Republican... even if you (for some mind boggling reason) have convinced yourself that President Bush and his friends are doing a great job... even so please ponder how often you praised divided government back in the old Clinton days.
Didn't you (once upon a time) claim to believe that unaccountable and unquestioned power corrupts? That it will corrupt anybody, even your side?
Aren't you even a little disturbed by an administration that -- while controlling every single lever of power --has dropped over us a veil of secrecy deeper than we knew during the deepest depths of the Cold War? Take just one example. When one party in power feels free to abandon all of the contract and accounting and competitive-bidding rules, in favor of ten thousand "emergency" no-bid contracts... contracts that always go to their pals (coincidence!)... don't you think that somebody, somewhere, ought to be asking questions?
You won't see questions being asked in the present Congress of the United States, amid their pork barrel feeding frenzy. A Congress which has held fewer days in session, fewer committee meetings, fewer inquiries, fewer debates, and issued fewer subpoenas than any other in the last hundred years.
A Congress that intentionally dissolved all of its own nonpartisan scientific advisory staff, in order to spend ten years of dogmatic monomania, avoiding hearing anything that its leading members do not like to hear?
Is this really what you want? Even as a lifelong Republican?
Especially as a lifelong Republican? For a century, the great American political tradition was one of independent legislators, only marginally beholden to party leaders. Do you really want an era when The Party controls and dictates everything from on high? Didn't we see enough of that in the failed Soviet Union?
No, even if you despise liberals and hate Democrats, this is a time when the opposition simply has to be given some back some power. Enough power to throw open the doors and windows, to let in some light, to ask questions, hold hearings...
...and if those hearings uncover bad things, well? Do you really prefer that bad things stay hidden from sight, to fester and sicken our republic? Was all of your earlier, Clinton-era talk about accountability just a sham?
No, this is the time when even conservatives... that is, conservatives in the tradition of Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, even Bob Dole... need to decide what's more important. Partisanship and endless "culture War"? Or letting some healthy light and air onto the nation's bitter wounds.
With the presidency not at issue... this is the time to overwhelmingly change our legislatures, demanding that they get back to business, back to supervision and professionalism and asking hard questions. Back to Advice and Consent.
Okay, that was an attempt to parse the present issue in terms that anybody might copy and offer to the sincere and decent Republicans they know. If they have a scintilla of self-honesty, it may provoke a little introspection and thought... at least in those who are able to open their eyes. Who know that something's wrong. People who normally could never bring themselves to hold their noses and vote in some "dang lib'rals"... but now can see that things are very different. It is time for a change.
But don’t just make this a one sided attack! There is one thing you Dems and Libs can offer in return. (And you had better offer something; people do not give concessions without something in return.) Please gather your own sense of honesty and courage and nonpartisan decency, to say:
"If Democrats ever have this much power in the future, and seem similarly reckless or partisan, or awash in secret deals, or as determined to lie and cheat their way into perpetually unaccountable power, I promise that you can turn this around on me. I will open my eyes, and I will listen."
Make that vow, and you might achieve the miraculous. Budge the unbudgeable. Move the un-movable. Persuade some of the millions of decent (but obstinate) American conservatives to meet you - to meet their country - halfway.
That's the best any honorable person, citizen, or patriotic American can ask.
All righty then. As November approaches, we have several priorities.
1) Try the argument above on every decent conservative you can find. Don't give up on them! Many are sincere, and simply have gone ostrich, covering their eyes and ears and shaking their heads, going "Nah-Nah!" to avoid facing the obvious.
Don't push them in a corner. DOn’t be rude. This is too important. We aren't in this to punish them for past mistakes. (Hey, a lot of liberals swallowed lies about “Uncle Joe” during the thirties. The situation is very similar!) No, do not rebuke.
But be insistent. Call them to duty. Remind them that the state of Arizona is drawing power from coils that surround the spinning in Barry Goldwater's grave! These horrific neocon monsters aren't "their" conservatives. Your friends and relations should disavow ‘em. And November is their chance. Their chance to stand up. To save their country.
2) We tend to forget the main task for September until it is too late. Everybody, please, take part in voter registration efforts near you. Especially near Universities, schools, wherever large pools of the unregistered may be found.
Ask every single young person you meet if she or he is registered AND IF THEY HAVE ASKED FOR AN ABSENTEE BALLOT! Sometimes that is the only way to make sure that they vote. By relentless nagging and making sure it gets done before election day. Indeed, in California and many other states, you can grab a handful of registration cards and hand them out yourself!
SERIOUSLY this is the most efficient way for you to double or triple or multiply your vote. By ensuring that several (or several dozen) people do this.
3) Don’t forget the state Assembly races! In fact, find out which race near you is the most contested and help that one, even if it doesn’t seem sexy. Loosening the neocons’ grip on States is key. Only then will they become desperate to drop their criminal conspiracy of rule-by gerrymandering. (And if the dems then refuse? Then it will be time to go after them!)
4) Above all -- Talk up the inevitable October Surprise.
If ever history revealed a time when unscrupulous men would deliberately harm their own country, in order to preserve power, this is it.
Can anybody seriously doubt that something "dreadful and unifying" will happen before the election?
Seriously, things are desperate for the neocons. Their slow coup is at a critical phase. They cannot afford to let go of even one power lever. The press, the Senate, the House, the FBI and Civil Service, The Court. If any one of them escapes control and starts doing its job, they are dead... or rather, prison-bound. So do not under-estimate the lengths to which they will go.
We have only two ways to foil this dismally predictable scenario. First, we must call upon the professionals, at last to stand up, to step forward, to blow whistles, to tattle and risk their careers for the sake of the nation that they have sworn to protect.
Alas, that has happened so very little, during the first awful years of the 21st Century. Hence, it may be up to the rest of us to cancel out the coming treason, by innoculation ourselves and our neighbors with the armor of cynical expectation.
Make bets! Predict the blow in advance. Stake real money on this. That kind of assertiveness will focus the attention of others on a topic most would rather not contemplate.
And if you are proved wrong? Suppose, in that happy event, you must fork over a few bucks, so what? Pay all the doubters and be filled with joy.
But you and I know that you will win these wagers, as sure as the sun sometimes ducks behind the moon, casting a terrible - but brief shadow across the land.
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Finally, Google is at it again, unleashing another new service - Google Video - in beta. See my own two posted video interviews.
(In one I am identified as “Libertarian author David Brin.” My main quibble is with the capital “L”. Most freedom-loving people can agree with a lot of libertarianism... in lower case letters. Without the lapel grabbing dogma... which is the very topic that my video interview is all about. The other video, taken at a special UCSD alumni event, also features authors Vernor Vinge, Kim Stanley Robinson and Greg Benford! A great show.)
While I’m at it. Here are links to where some radio interviews have become available via audio online:
Just don’t overdose on Brin! It can get grating after a while, I’m told ;-(
Now let’s get serious.