Dear lots of people that think Barack Obama is going to destroy democracy as we know it,
Hello. How are you? I am fine. I see more people these days noticing horrible things the government is doing and is capable of doing. Welcome to the club.
I’ve been crying in the wilderness since about 1985. The more I’ve read since then, the more I’ve hollered. I’ve been seeing trends towards maximizing power at the core of government for quite some time. I’m not alone, either. I’ve read books from around 1900-1912, when Americans first began noticing something seriously going wrong with the political-economic arrangements in the nation. The same problems those guys complained about have gotten worse over the last century. This is nothing new.
Since I’ve been doing this for some time, let me help you out with some lessons I’ve learned, so you’ll better deal with your new-found love of finding holes in the government’s claims and impending doom for our rights and freedoms.
1. Set personal limits. For me, it’s UFOs. Once a theory takes me to UFOs, I stop there. I also draw the line at Jesus having children (that one saved me a lot of grief when The DaVinci Code came out…), international conspiracies of religious zealots (Protocols of the Elders of Zion, anyone?), and anything that involves re-explaining basic principles of physics in order to work (so no flat or hollow earth theories for me). Set these limits now, because stuff comes along later that will test those limits. You’re going to be excoriated enough for your fringe views, so you want to make sure you don’t go off the deep end.
2. Be nonpartisan. Most of my research led me to conclude that Republican presidents were connected at the hip to Latin American death squads and that Democrats were guardian angels of the world. For a long time, that blinded me to how LBJ escalated US involvement in Vietnam, Carter fomented Islamic radicals in Afghanistan, and Clinton bombed Serbs to distract the nation from his extramarital affairs. By Clinton’s second term, however, I had started to see that party makes no difference. The power grabbers at the top have no loyalty to anyone but themselves. Therefore, banging the drum to beat down one party while ignoring the other one just makes you look myopic and foolish.
3. The little things are distractions you don’t need. Obama’s birth certificate is exhibit A. Seriously, this makes no difference at all in the grand scheme of things. You want to criticize the man and be taken seriously, go for his failure to close Guantanamo Bay or his use of drones to wipe out families in the desert at the wrong wedding party. The same goes for anyone that tries to argue the 16th Amendment isn’t ratified or that US judges have to have a gold fringe on their flags because they’re operating under British Admiralty Law. Even if you’re right, those aren’t going to amount to anything when you try to take on the major issues. Even the author of the 14th Amendment perjuring himself before the Supreme Court to get the notion of corporate personhood into US jurisprudence doesn’t cut it as a major issue. When that was revealed back in the 1930s, the court said it would keep ruling on that precedent, since it was the way they’d done it for 50 years. So drop the little things and go for the big issues.
3a. This is an important one: if my questioning George Bush’s AWOL when his National Guard outfit instituted drug testing was frivolous and pointless in 2000, Obama’s birth certificate is in the same dustbin of history. If you want to say that Obama shouldn’t be president, then you also need to stand ready to say Bush II was an usurper in the 2000 election. If you’re not ready for that, then you’re a partisan blowhard and you need to re-read #2, above.
4. Read some Howard Zinn. Please. The guy fought in wars, faced dire poverty, and still came out to be one of the greatest historians, ever. He’s done his homework and he knows his beans, so read his stuff and take a few lessons from him. Heck, I’ll read criticisms from the left, right, top, bottom, in between, and all around town. I won’t read ones from outer space (see #1, above). I may not agree with conclusions drawn, but I will thank one and all that bring new facts to my sight.
5. Make sure you’re not engaging in inflating citations. We all want two sources. A source that quotes an original source isn’t a second source, though. Getting a good primary source document is good, but make sure it’s not a forgery. But quoting someone that quotes someone else doesn’t mean you have two sources. You have one source, repeated. This involves more legwork and study to get your facts straight, but it’s well worth the time spent.
6. You need to read Alfred W. McCoy’s The Politics of Heroin. Next, you need to read Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance. Both of these guys did emeritus work in uncovering uncomfortable truths. They’ll put stuff on your plate that you never dreamed possible. For some advanced stuff, read the Attorney General’s report on Klaus Barbie and its mention of a “Vatican Ratline” and THEN go into some searching on Cardinal Krunoslav Draganovic to see how deep this stuff can go. After those things, it’ll put a lot of other stuff into perspective.
7. Find a moral center. I had to do this eventually, so you might as well do it now. I can’t change the world, but I can change myself and be a positive influence on the people around me. I love life and I love people in general, even though I don’t always understand them. My purpose in decrying injustice is not a national agenda, but an educative one. I don’t think I can change the way things are with my vote or a letter to Congress, but I can change the way things are in my community by being involved and taking care of those that need help. My moral center comes from my personal set of beliefs: your moral center’s mileage may vary, as it may very well come from a different source. That doesn’t bother me, as I know that anyone seeking to be compassionate is, at heart, a good person.
Hope this helps,