Democratic Underground  

Waiting For The River To Catch Fire
May 7, 2002
By Joseph Vecchio

Americans, it has been said, will make the right decision only after every other option has run its course. We've seen many examples of this throughout our history, some larger than others, but my personal favorite is when the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire in the 1970's. You can be sure, in the years and months preceding this remarkable event, that the public, while aware the river was full of pollution and filth, and no doubt spent some time discussing it, didn't really try to do anything about it. It took something extreme to happen in order to get it fixed.

In our day "the river" is our political system. It's an ugly and polluted river, and while we certainly talk about it, loudly and quietly, intelligently and idiotically, we really don't seem to want to do anything about it. Republicans live in their laissez-faire, Ayn Rand fantasy world, the Dems, well, I'm not really sure what the Dems are doing, and Greens play political theater, ignoring the reality that all their hard work is only helping their enemies.

What's polluting this particular system is money. You know it, I know it, we all know it. And the hard truth is that money will always play a part in our political system whether we like it or not. The very rich will always try to use their money to gain more influence than they probably deserve. And I'll be honest with you: I don't have a problem with that, in the sense that they have, at least, the right to try it. The question for us is, how much of it are we going to be willing to accept? What level of graft are we willing to put up with without allowing the system to fall apart? At what point will this river catch fire, and will we be able to fix it after it does?

We need to get the money, as much as possible, out of the political arena. We need to rip the heart out of the enemies of freedom, force them to operate on our terms, not theirs. The only way we can do that is by getting our political power back. And the only way we can do that is through organization, strategy, and hard work. The enemies of freedom in this country are stronger now than they have ever been, and will stop at nothing to maintain their hold on power.

The Internet is, at present, our last best hope for victory. It is the only forum where free expression that reaches large numbers of people still exists. Websites like Democratic Underground, Bartcop, Tom Paine, Media Whores Online, and yes, even Free Republic, allow viewpoints and ideas that would normally be ignored in the incomparable wasteland that has become the print and broadcast media. Without these sites, where would we be? Unable to reach each other, unable to communicate and organize. We must use it while we still can, because if we allow them, the enemies of freedom will surely take it away from us. They loathe the truth because the truth often interferes with the reality they wish to impose on us.

To those like myself, Democrats who have never been politically active above and beyond voting, we need your energy. I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I'm sure there are others who feel as I do: we aren't getting involved for our own personal wealth, we're getting involved because we feel we have to, because if we don't, then everything we believe in, everything that millions have laid down their lives for, will be destroyed. We need to get involved politically both locally and nationally with the Democratic Party and force our will upon it: challenging the leadership to fight or be replaced by those who will.

For supporters of the Green Party, you need to wake up to the political reality that you are doing more to help the enemies of freedom than you are to help your cause. Now is the time to show if you are truly serious about making a change or if you're just having fun playing political theater. I've said quite clearly that I don't believe you want power, you just want to play the spoiler, I'd love nothing more than for you to prove me wrong. The Green Party is a single-issue party which will fade as soon as Ralph Nader decides to play another game, or passes away. If you don't believe me, just remember that the Reform Party was better funded and better organized than you are, and look what happened to them after Perot left. And if the Dems recover, you will never have a voice with them because you tried to destroy them. It took the religious right only four years to get their first great success, having Reagan elected. Are you telling me that you're dumber than right wing fundamentalists?

Finally, to those of you on the left who are wealthy, this is a wake-up call for you, too. The enemies of freedom will not allow you to keep your wealth once they are firmly entrenched, the best you can hope for is that they will use the threat of taking your wealth from you to pacify you. If you succumb to that, you are lost. You must be willing to sacrifice some of that wealth as some of us sacrifice our sweat, to give some things up so that others in the future may have them. How many warriors are here that could be more effective if they had the time to donate to the cause? How much more could someone like Bartcop accomplish if his time wasn't so limited by the necessities of the workweek? There are others as well who could use a donation to help them fight the good fight, don't be afraid to toss some money their way, even if you never see a return on it. You don't have to put yourselves in the poor house, what's small change to you could mean a lot to a lower-middle class worker just getting by. Don't be afraid to donate money to the Democratic Party, but be sure it has strings attached. The Dems are running scared right now partly because they don't know how much support they will have if they speak up. If we show them the support is there, they will grow a spine so quick your chiropractor's head will spin.

We must not be afraid to fight. The battle is hardly over, and can still be won. We must work together and put aside whatever differences we might have in this struggle, and have a clear plan on what to do with the power when we get it. And more importantly, we must act before the river catches fire, because that flame might wind up consuming us all.

Joe Vecchio is a novice to political activism who is angry at the direction this country is taking.

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