A New Radical
April 25, 2001
by Susan Reeves
It's time I made a confession. Although I sympathized with some of the
protest movements of the 60's, particularly civil rights, I never seriously
considered hitting the streets. I thought the protestors were out there
on the fringe. You know the stereotypes - bra-burners, tree-huggers, draft-dodgers,
hippies, yippies, agitators, anarchists. Granted, I was more than just
a little pleased when Nixon resigned in disgrace, but I was far from what
anyone would call a radical.
Then I entered the new millenium.
I should have known what was coming. I live in Texas, and I watched Shrub
and his top-dollar propaganda machine launch a gubernatorial campaign
rife with malicious rumor and innuendo, tarring Ann Richards, one of our
state's most popular politicians. I believed that Texans would see the
vicious attacks for what they were - a specious effort designed to incite
the gun-loving fear of every Bubba and Bubba Lynn in the state. (Ann's
unforgivable sin? Vetoing a concealed-carry handgun law.) I was wrong.
We got the Shrub, and pistol-packin' mamas and papas, too.
Next, Snippy set his sights on the White House. Again I watched the amazing
million-dollar reputation-wrecking spin machine as it bulldozed John McCain.
After the conventions, I hoped Americans were able to see the truth amidst
the barrels of sludge flying in Al Gore's direction. When it came to running
the country, it was obvious that W was at least one mesquite branch shy
of a barbeque.
This time, the majority of Americans shared my opinion. But we found
out too late that Bush Inc. thought a Federal election was nothing more
than a carnival game to be rigged. Just one pesky detail escaped the CIA-trained
election operatives - those Voter News Service exit polls that were showing
a terrible discrepancy between what Floridians thought they put in the
ballot boxes and what actually fell out when those same boxes were opened.
We all know how quickly VNS was eviscerated by the same media moguls who
made a fortune selling commercial slots to the highest bidder. When the
Extreme Court ruled that the only way to preserve our precious democracy
was by destroying it, I began to save money in order to attend the Voter
Rights March in May.
In less than six months, I've become a bona-fide radical. I've written
to members of Congress, cancelled my local newspaper subscription in disgust,
and donated money to Planned Parenthood. I'd burn my bra, but I don't
want to contribute to the emission of greenhouse gases. This weekend,
I'll be on the steps of the local US Courthouse, protesting the Misadministration's
attack of organized labor and the repeal of the ergonomics standards.
I'm hitting the streets of DC in May. What seems strange to me is that
I never noticed myself drifting off to the left side of the road until
I hit the shoulder. Is it just my flawed perspective, or did the highway
suddenly make a sharp right curve?
I hope there's enough room for me out here on the New Left. Please forgive
me for my lack of outrage these last 30 years. It takes some of us a few
decades longer than others to realize that the the rough side of the road
is what always warns us we're about to drive off a cliff. I have to go.
My live oak tree in the front yard looks like it could use a hug.