There is a certain school of thought — professed by many people that I like and respect — that the American system is so far gone that the only option is to tear it all down and start over from scratch.
I will be honest with you all: a big part of my heart and mind agrees with them. Capitalism is a system that rewards selfishness and short-sighted thinking. When things like pollution, acts of war, and the treatment of the working class as if they’re nothing more than cattle… are rewarded in your economy, your society is not built to last.
Capitalism teaches us that if it makes you money, it must be good, an utterly insane aphorism accepted by mainstream American culture. In a shared ecosystem, if we don’t each make decisions with the collective in mind, we risk the species. Any child with an ant farm understands that.
American exceptionalism teaches us that every military action the United States engages in is implicitly noble — and that if you question any of these actions, you become the enemy, too, no matter how much you love this country or live its founding ideals. An America so obsessed with war, too, is not built to last. No empire this war-hungry ever does. You’re not done with 10th grade by the time you learn that.
But as tempting as it may be, the anarchistic mindset which calls for the burning of the field so new crops can grow fresh is just a dream. Those same capitalistic and militaristic forces wouldn’t let it happen. The road to Eden would be bombed to Hell, and it would be the most vulnerable in our society — children and women in poverty — who would suffer most. We have to balance idealism and realism. We have to be strategic.
We have two best hopes for creating a more compassionate, sustainable, rational society, and we have to manifest both of these hopes at once:
1. We have to act locally. The America we desire is built in our cities and towns, and it grows out from there.
2. We have to act systemically, being activists with our dollars to force Corporate America to evolve, and helping both the Republicans and Democrats evolve from the inside out.
All of the letters to senators and congressmen help. All the votes for Bernie helped. The Facebook posts help too, because it is always worth trying to shift the collective consciousness in positive ways.
The most efficient course of action, though, is to enter the machines of the political parties, and work diligently to rewire them from within.
If every Bernie supporter joined the local Democratic Party in their city, and attended every meeting, the Democratic Party would be greatly reformed by the mid-terms. The Democrats and GOP are like any other organization: sure, there’s moneyed influence at the top, but the majority has a way of ruling when they stay united in their values.
The Norfolk City Democratic Committee has a meeting this evening. It’s taking place at the Academy for Discovery at Lakewood, 1701 Alsace Avenue, Room 108. It goes from 7pm to 9pm. Here is the event on Facebook. It is open to the public. The special guest is Susan Platt, Candidate for Lt. Governor.
“The Norfolk City Democratic Committee offers an opportunity to help shape the future of the party from the ground up,” said the Norfolk Dem’s Brittany Shearer, its technology chair. “It’s a community of progressive, engaged, citizens looking to help Democrats effect change at every level of government. It also provides a space to share your experiences and help channel your energy and ideas into positive action.”
If you lean Republican, here are the Norfolk Republicans on Facebook. The next meeting of The Norfolk Republican Party is on February 16th, at Norfolk Collegiate Middle School from 7:00 to 8:00 PM. The address is 7336 Granby Street for GPS purposes, on the corner of Granby and Suburban Pkwy. The special guest will be Ed Gillespie, candidate for governor.
I will agree with my anarchist friends that it is time for revolution, but it is a revolution most efficiently carried out using the tools of capitalism and democracy already at our disposal. The Republicans and Democrats are our best potential tools of change. We just have to keep showing up until we’ve figured out how to rewire them a little bit so they can be working to make this world as peaceful, equitable, and sustainable as it should be.