They Cannot Muzzle The Light

You know that famous picture from the Westboro Baptists protests and counter-protests? This one?


I feel like standing next to Capitol Hill with that sign right now. Or the DNC headquarters. Something.

Thousands of people are in the fucking streets. Thousands. In New York, Boston, Cali, Philly. Thousands.

Yet Washington Democrats cower in the corner for fear of joining them.

I can see why. What if one of the hippies has a rude shirt?

And doesn’t it make Obama look bad to point out that the earth is caving in on his watch?

What if somebody at the rallies compared Republicans to Satan? What would Chris Matthews say?

What if somebody at the rallies once sold his food stamps on Facebook?

Won’t that give Republicans and the pundits who hold Washington hostage cause to say mean things about us? Won’t that give them cause to talk about how we’re all about the smelly kids and faggots and welfare cheats and others who are anathema to America? Surely they wouldn’t be doing that anyway so I’d best stay over here, and pretend those protesters don’t speak for me.

Surely I’d better not note that these are my people, my constituents, the middle class workers for which my party is supposed to have fought, once upon a time, in a land far, far away. Surely I’d better not concede that even if they are just “college kids,” they’re goddamn citizens of this country whose concerns deserve a voice and whose voice is a vote. Surely I’d better not worry that where there are ten of them today there will be sixty tomorrow, because when in history has that ever happened?

Surely it’s safer to stay indoors, keep my powder dry, and hold off having this fight until things get just a little bit worse. Surely, when the right moment comes along, someone will let me know.

In case it’s escaped anyone’s notice, the Occupy All That Shit protests aren’t going away. They’re growing. They’re going from city to city. They’re getting louder. They’re gaining friends and allies. They’re becomingmore.And I don’t know how much more, how many more people it’s going to take before somebody supposedly on the side of the middle class takes fucking notice and gets his ass down to the microphone.

Isn’t there a single strategist in Washington yelling that there are thousands of votes out there to be won by actually acting like a Democrat? I know that hasn’t exactly been in high favor the last 10 years, but do thousands of people in the street express anything BUT a deep hunger for a world that isn’t going to screw them over? And isn’t that a political opportunity of which someone should avail himself?

Yes, the Tea Party was funded, and marketed nonstop by Fux News. You know what else it was? Supported by every major Republican candidate, who looked at the racist signs and the ignorant-ass ‘necks in attendance and said sure, some of them are gaping assholes but all of ’em are gonna vote and they might as well vote for me. That’s part of how that movement gained legitimacy. If tea partiers held a march against Obama’s wars, they wouldn’t lack for grand marshals.

Our leaders, even among those who do nothing but comment, just snipe about hippies and kids, as if they have any economic or demographic data on these crowds at all. That’s if they notice; most are too busy figuring out how much to cut from Social Security. I want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them. Yes, everybody’s tired, but eventually your exhaustion is just self-indulgence, and it doesn’t matter what’s on the back of the trustafarian’s shirt at this point.

You go to the revolution with the revolutionaries you have.

I’ll be at Occupy Chicago tomorrow with food and coffee for the demonstrators. Where will our leaders be?


11 thoughts on “They Cannot Muzzle The Light

  1. Actually, I don’t want the Democrats there. I don’t want Obama or Nancy Pelosi or any elected politician at any of these rallies. I don’t want to take away from the anti-corporation, pro-worker message.
    As soon as a Democrat in Washington shows up at one of these rallies the Fox News bimbots and Breitbarts and Drudges will all shriek OH WE TOLD YOU SO THIS IS JUST LIEBRUL DEMOCRAT POLITICKS even though it’s not, even though those ridiculous Tea Parties were nothing but Republican Party astrotirfing and propaganda.
    Stay away, Democrats. Let the kids and the unions have the mic.

  2. You know what? I can see how the frustration with the system is driving people into the streets. I get it. I do.
    But you can count me as one of the folks who wants them out of the streets. The streets are fun. The streets are easy. Instead of that, how about the boring stuff like:
    Not just for one meeting, but for everything. You know how difficult it is to get people to show up for these things? But hold a protest and thousands can bail out of what they’re doing and take the time. I sure hope people have a safe, fun, cathartic time making their point for the cameras. But more than that, I hope they really decide to get involved in stuff. Because if you really want to change some stuff, you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and participate in some activities that are thankless and have no real place for witty posters.
    And if you’ve got a problem with “the Democratic Party” or “the Democratic leadership” how about:
    They’ll let you in. They’ll let you speak. They’ll generally be thrilled becauseso few people show the hell up with any consistency. So few people are willing to volunteer their time for something as boring as participating in government.
    Because we can all get together and yell and chant and make posters about how “the system” is screwed up, but until you take advantage of all the agency you already have in “the system” but aren’t using, no amount of spectacle is going to change one thing.
    Not one.

  3. There wasn’t (to my knowledge) any demos here in the university town I work in, but yesterday evening there was one solitary guy with a Stop Corporate Greed sign in the very very small town square of the very very small hill country town where I live.

  4. It’s broken out in Houston as well.
    I’m a Democrat.
    And while I can’t quit my job and join them, I can go down to City Hall where they are setting up their “occupation” and show solidarity for an hour or so every day.
    This shouldn’t be a Republican/Democrat issue. We ALL got screwed. We are ALL getting screwed.
    I AM A 99%ER!!!!!

  5. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck the goddamn Democrats. They’re not fucking invited. They threw their lot in with the banksters. I’m not interested in Tim Geithner’s blessing; I’d prefer his scalp instead.

  6. Because we can all get together and yell and chant and make posters about how “the system” is screwed up, but until you take advantage of all the agency you already have in “the system” but aren’t using, no amount of spectacle is going to change one thing.
    If the people felt that they had any agency, there would be no protest. And you call it spectacle, but miss the disruption which is more to the point.
    You comment reminds me of the democratic party official in Wisconsin who told all the protestors there to put down their signs and pick up voter registration forms. How’d that work out? Did they save their rights from being taken away? No? Were they able to leverage that anger into successfully taking back the legislature? No?
    The very people you want us to support have spent their whole careers making things worse for people with less money and power than themselves. They either did it willingly, or reluctantly, but they did it. To stand on the sidelines and shake your finger at the protestors for not using the same methods that have failed, over and over again, is to be willfully blind to the real problem.

  7. i’d rather the DC democrats LISTENED. like madison. this is the peoples. fight. and thei is georgee + geitner and didn’t dickie sauy DEFICITS DON’T MATTER. and it does help that the tea bags and their pals + the gnews media are trying to subvert the messages.

  8. The very people you want us to support
    Perhaps you misunderstood what I am saying. I never said anything about supporting anyone but ourselves.
    The people in the streets should go and get involved, not in the spectacle of the streets, but in the halls where governing decisions are made. But not a lot of them do, because – like you appear to be doing – they construct an artificial line between themselves and the decision making process. They go into the process thinking “I can’t.”
    I’m not advocating they support others, I’m advocating they redirect their efforts, apply their voices and energy where it is the most effective, and begin participating in the very functions of government they are complaining about.
    Because those doors are open, and the people areinvited to participate. It ain’t the damn system’s fault that the only people currently participating have agendas non-participants don’t like.
    You have to roll up your sleeves, though. You have to participate consistently in an often boring and thankless process. You have to brush up on the ins and outs of the decisions being made. But the only reason people don’tfeel they have agency is because they don’t realize just how much agency they actually have when applied at the right place. That, and getting in costume and marching around with a bunch of like-minded individuals is way more fun than sitting in a meeting listening to someone drone on about budget figures. That, and it is far easier to shout witty slogans than to actually build a coalition of diverse interests to start moving policy.
    Want to change the Democratic Party in Washington? Then change the Democratic Party in Orleans Parish. Change the Democratic Party in Glynn County, Georgia. Change the Democratic Party wherever you are. The meetings are open to the public, and any interested individuals can get involved and begin participating in those decision making processes. Show up for long enough, contribute enough of your time, and they’ll actuallyinvite you tostart making the decisions andstart setting the agenda.
    That’s plenty of agency, right there.
    Not a Democratic Party member? That’s fine. The local school board has meetings open to the public. The city councils have meetings open to the public. Every governing committee has meetings open to the public. They invite comment. They hand out information about policy. If you don’t like what they’re doing, you can apply your pressure at that point, and have an enormous effect on forwarding policy you like or shutting down that which you don’t. At that point, you aren’t competing with big, undefinable ideas, you’re going after the exact people who are wrecking the damn system, because you’rein the room when the decisions are made. With enough pressure and time, you change who those people are, or you assume that position yourself and get some stuff done on your own terms.
    That’sagency, and it is right there for the taking. You won’t find it out in the streets, though.

  9. Show up for long enough, contribute enough of your time, and they’ll actually invite you to start making the decisions and start setting the agenda.
    Apologies, but that doesn’t follow. What happens is that they take your hard work and your time and then keep you sidelined while those in charge of the party push through their favorites. How many times have we seen good, liberal candidates edged out by GOP-lite bots? And it wasn’t because folks didn’t show up to meetings, it’s because the people running the party want the same money that the large sponsors lavish on the GOP, so they are certain to run only candidates who won’t rock the boat.
    Taking over your local party HQ is all well and good, but it won’t translate to action at a national level.

  10. Taking over your local party HQ is all well and good, but it won’t translate to action at a national level.
    What I want to do is demonstrate how what you said is completely and utterly false at every level, how such a progress resistant attitude is in fact the single biggest contributing factor that creates the current state of American politics and government today, and how relegating yourself to a position of false helplessness in such a way is a completely voluntary act.
    But I don’t have to do any of that, because anyone reading what you wrote can see it for themselves. Thanks.

  11. CPfG,
    could you please tell the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic party about how the DNC listens to its member’s concerns?They seem to hold a different opinion, for some reason or other.
    Also, the options you give: “joining the democratic party” vs. “relegating yourself to a position of false helplessness”? This is a false dichotomy, as those are not the only two choices available.
    As for what I wrote, yes, the peoples can judge for themselves. I don’t think you are doing your argument any favors by leaving it there, eh?

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