by Martin Murie
(Swans - November 17, 2008) The morning after the election the phone rang. Mechanized poll call, three options: If you voted for Obama press one. If you voted for McCain press 2. If you did not vote this time press 3. How could I interject into that robot that I had voted for Cynthia McKinney? Well, that was a slap in the face after so many months of major media and some minor media giving near zero mention of fringe candidates. I slammed the receiver down. That incident is akin to the experience of our co-editor, Jan Baughman, who met a similar blindness to the absolute importance of fringe candidates.
I like Michael Doliner's suggestion that we institute a gadfly to say anything, to take his TV camera into any meeting, whether officially secret or not. The gadfly would be authorized by his massively protected status, to be someone everyone would want to listen to. No more secrets! Imagine that!
Michael's analysis of Athenian and Roman and Christian societies is subtle and persuasive. We could do with a gadfly. I tend to agree that our Constitution's "balancing" act does not really work, and that the Founding Fathers, really a mythical construction, is no longer operative except in political rhetorical speech.
There is, however, a powerful, ultimate authority, our Earth. We are beginning the immense task of acknowledging the huge extent of human ravaging of our only habitat . . . uranium drainage from the Colorado Plateau reaching the Colorado River; unregulated toxins in soil, water, atmosphere; ethanol production hype; industrial wind turbine hype; urban sprawl; huge developments at edge of or actually inside wild country. See the assault on California condor habitat for those who can afford "closeness" to the wild. (cf. Center For Biological Diversity, "Data Proves Tejon Development Dire News For Condors," Oct. 30, 2008.) You don't get "close" that way, don't they know that? But we refuse to relinquish our high status as commanders of the universe. Those plunderings I just mentioned are merely a short list; impending and current climate changes are not included. See Jan's polar bear cartoon.
There it is, our planet, the earth itself that we can touch and measure and experience its bad and its good. Our earth is not paradise. It is the ultimate authority. We can pretend to be careful guardians, but can never in actual fact be authorized deciders. Those who suffered inside Katrina, tsunamis, tornadoes, ice storms, drought can attest to that. Mother Nature is the ultimate authority. It's time to step back and gulp in huge drafts of humility.
In the recent long and agonizing storms of rhetoric, the contenders -- and it has to be admitted, the fringe candidates also -- didn't pay enough attention to earthly authority. The clock is perilously close to midnight, signifying cliff edge. The stranglehold of corporate influence extends even to environmental outfits. The blame can be spread, to the neoliberal rulers and also to the go-along-to-get-along blindness of Big Greens and some little greens too. Michael Barker gives us a thorough study of that in the November 3 issue of Swans, and the editor of the Canyon Country Zephyr, Jim Stiles, has written vivid, and valid, critiques of environmental timidity and greed.
We might moderate the impending climatic changes, terribly complicated by our centuries of damaging the planet, but it is already too late to stop those changes and the as-yet-to-be-discovered surprises in the next few years. We are looking at yesterday and today and tomorrow, not four years from now. Let us hope, with Gilles d'Aymery, that someone like Gonzalez or McKinney or Sheehan is ready to run for president when that time rolls around, but we have great work to do now, today and tomorrow. The clock is ticking. Hear it?
Great work it will be, and the pathway has been marked out by our gallant fringe politicians, Nader and McKinney. Like gadflies they are much closer to truth than the Republicrats and Democans. And they were backed by thousands of unknown supporters who put survival above money.
Let's be blunt about our situation, okay? We are an endangered species. Face it. We have pretended long enough to be imperial God-blessed people, destined for boss nation of the Earth. That's a Death March. Trash it. Now is the time to stand up . . . We the People . . . make our latent power real.
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