Idiots of America, unite!

Want to just riff a bit on A’s excellentHow, Exactly Would We Know This? post from yesterday, as well as some of the comments, because I believe it’s a critical conversation, central to our very own little First Draft neighborhood and the larger community, our shared net-rooty identity, to the extent we have just one.

Here’s the deal. We are all, every one of us, the Idiots of America. This idea that we on the left, and the people we elect to represent us, are in the position to serve as some kind of missionaries to the beknighted knuckledraggers out there, that wecould do that, not even that weshould do it, well that’s a lot of crap.

Don’t get me wrong, I know what team I want to be on, and I like US and the things we tend to believe in, better than THEM and the things they tend to believe in. But as pointed out yesterday, it’s a struggle to know everything we need to just get by these days, not to mention weighing the relevancies and prioritizing our goals. It’s a fucking uphill climb to do that asindividuals, not to mention as communities.Sifting and winnowing ishard, y’all. And it’s not like we can stop the game clock, evolve as individuals, as a society, fix all the broken crap, and then start the game over and play better for the rest of the quarter. We have to do it all on the run, in real time, fixing and breaking and fixing as we go. It’s a struggle for all of us, we are all equally vulnerable to the overwhelm, we all make flawed choices with respect to what and how we filter and amplify, or who we choose to depend on to do it for us.

The obligatory digression:

Let’s talk about water, H2O, agua, something sort of important to, you know, carbon-based lifeforms. So, where does yours come from? Is it surface water or ground water? How does it get to you? Does it come from the watershed you live in, or from someone else’s? What are the major pollution threats? Point source or non-point source? Starting with your town/region/county and ending with the EPA, who and what regulates your water, protects it, decides or recommends how much can be used and in what ways? Are these decider/recommenders elected or appointed? If elected, when was the last election? Did you vote in it? If appointed, who appoints them? Are meetings and other processes that bear on your water made available to the public? Do you attend and participate? Are there any volunteer organizations involved in water issues around you? Are you a member? What are the desired future conditions for your water region and how were they developed? When were they last reviewed and updated?

Okay, I’ll stop. If you knew most of the answers without googling, good for you. If you didn’t, you’re in the biggest of big tents. Most Americans, no matter their political party, religion, or education, don’t know shit about their water supply, their watershed, or much of anything past their faucets and garden hoses. So, no shame if you are one of them but I will ask you one last question. Let’s take the top three issues you DO know about, you DO involve yourself with. Of those three, which are more important to your survival, your kids and grandkids’ futures, to all carbon-based life, than water?

See where I’m going with this? Regardinglots of really important stuff, we are all, every one of us, “low-information” voters, non-participatory citizens shirking our responsibilities.

So, back what A said. “AMERICA IS REALLY FUCKED.” All of it. All of us. With respect to framing, how about let’s start from right there instead of “THEY are WAY More Fucked than WE are and WE need to Help THEM Be More like US.”

6 thoughts on “Idiots of America, unite!

  1. I like this topic. I consider myself somewhere in the horizontalist-anarchosyndicalist “small is beautiful” camp, but I live next to a big farking lake, with a big farking pile of humanity next to it, and the wonderful sparkle-based consensus building of OWS doesn’t really cut it when it comes toprocessing a million gallons of water a minute.
    We have an elected board that runs the Municipal Water Reclaimation District, and it’s the biggest pile of corrupt crony horseshit in an already unimaginably huge pile of corrupt crony horseshit.
    So, if representative democracy lends itself to abuse, and direct democracy isn’t likely competent to do the job, and private systems will rob us blind because, well it’d be a shame if we didn’t get our hard-earned quarterly profit increases *knock over a vase*, who should turn lake water into coffee water?

  2. Great post, great topic. I think sometimes we confuse lecturing and educating. My telling you how to be a better person is not, actually, all that effective because a) I’m kind of an asshole and b) who am I to tell you anything anyway and c) my experience and yours, however similar, will never be exactly the same.
    I think we just have to make the world better, is what I’ve come around to after all these years. I think we just have to do stuff to make whatever is around us less fucked up, and people will see that and either approach us and ask about it, or they won’t. But you don’t lead people by telling them to follow you. You lead people by going somewhere your own self, I think.

  3. We are of a similar mind there, A. As t-shirty and bumper-stickery as it has become via appropriation, “Be the change you want to see in the world” is not just great wisdom but a very sound navigation standard.
    Few years back during very dark times I wasn’t sure how to get out of, my internal encouragement was “If you can’t manage anything else, just try to just be useful.”
    I think the First-Draft community does a good job that way too. We don’t just talk, we do shit. Thanks for running a good ship.

  4. oh, and pratfall, I’m not surprised. Water regulation, like lots of other public sector regs, too often falls into the hands of the corrupt, no matter what the scale.
    Money always sniffs out scarcity. Water is growing scarcer by the minute. Follow the money…
    “Either you bring the water to L.A. or you bring L.A. to the water. ”

  5. Few years back during very dark times I wasn’t sure how to get out of, my internal encouragement was “If you can’t manage anything else, just try to just be useful.”
    Days I forget this stuff, this community reminds me.

  6. “If you can’t manage anything else, just try to just be useful.”
    My dad has sometimes remarked, “Everyone screws up, and everyone tries. At the end of the day, there are people who help solve more problems than they cause, and those who cause more problems than they help solve. Try to be the former.”

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