Political horror show

What we’re seeing on the political stage is painful, but it’s not exactly new

The author organizes a weekly citizen-led homeless outreach effort called Chico Friends on the Street.

All the world’s a stage and sometimes the political stage is all the world. When the arch-villain triumphs, it’s painful to watch. Painful because we’ve turned over our power. Or, so goes the refrain in a representative democracy. Beyond this, we reminisce about vicariously living through powerful people—the ones we like. What liberal hasn’t imagined a nice spring day, weeding the White House vegetable garden with Michelle and the kids? A fantasy neatly ignoring Obama’s 563 drone strikes. It’s mourning in America and, in much of it, we mourn lost illusions.

Remember Joe Hill’s famous telegram?: “I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize!” So, what’s first on this path of organization? The first step is finding our power; the moral power we lend to the elites—dreaming they will carry the conscience of a nation.

We are seeing a political horror show, but under the surface, it’s not a new show. And there is a way forward. But don’t expect mainstream culture or any elected official or minister or teacher to support our empowerment; mainstream culture is merely posturing.

Our moral systems are failing—Trump or no Trump. This failure extends from religious institutions to universities to our pervasive market-based morality—the terrible lie, that which dazzles us and yields profits, must be good and true. Our sources of insight are the enabling voices of drug dealers; find me a church where the voice of a dying Earth speaks loudly enough to shake the material aspirations of its congregants.

As we drive the planet beyond its capacity to support life, the moral voice has barely risen to a whisper. Let it rise in us. Remove the clang of commerce and listen to the suffering of the Earth. Listen to the suffering of Earth’s animals and people. The voices are there. Do none of this in order to win; the game may already be over. Do it, as Thoreau said, “to affect the quality of the day ….”