Friday | February 07, 2003
Ladies and Gents:
As you can tell from the blog and the associated threads, this has been a long and disappointing day for many of us. Far from changing the tone in Washington, George W. Bush has lulled many to sleep while he poisoned the punch bowl. If a previously fine public servant such as Pete Domenici can sink to the gutter by calling opponents of Miguel Estrada anti-Hispanic, then we know that Bush has succeeded in taking many good people down with him to Karl Roveís level. Many who had previously wanted to believe the compassionate conservative crap they were hearing and writing about Mr. Bush may now be waking up to find that they are facing what looks to be a stacked deck across all three branches of government, with an agenda and an approach that reverts back to some of the darkest hours of this country in the early 1950ís.
Against this backdrop, we have the fourth estate, which has all the appearances of being nothing more than an extension of the White House Communications Office, concerned only with maintaining their access and avoiding the intimidation so well practiced by this crew. Our own dialogue on this blog, so graciously provided to us by Kos through his hard work, shows evidence today of frayed nerves and harsh words. This may stem from the hardened way these views are being stated lately, coupled with a growing discouragement from many of us that the country is being led inexorably to the kind of world that George Orwell only wrote about. I would guess that even the likes of Bob Barr, Dan Burton, and Henry Hyde are troubled by todayís developments because they see what it really represents: a wholesale blurring of the lines between the branches of government, the return of an imperial presidency, and an ongoing and never-ending assault upon civil liberties that citizens across the political spectrum hold so dear. It has also probably not escaped these three men that once installed by a GOP power-hoarding administration, such a presidency is there also for the next Democratic Administration to use as well.
What to do? First, spouting off in the blogs and staying engaged and informed, trading opinions and sharpening arguments, and conceding an opponentís well-made points is healthy and good for all of us. It helps us find common ground where possible and identify issues that bother all of us. People who read and participate in blogs or get their news significantly from the Internet may be better informed than most. This doesnít make us better than others, but it does give us the opportunity and responsibility to do something more than complain amongst ourselves. Yes, it means writing, faxing, or emailing your elected officials to let them know when you deem an issue to be important. But take the time to build an email mailing list and fax numbers made up of key US senators or representatives. What good is getting mad today about the GAO decision and your fears about the 2003 version of the Patriot Act if you donít fire off a quick email or fax to these office holders about it? First off, they will be surprised to see that folks are paying attention. Secondly, although it may feel as if your message wonít make any difference, the experience of the right-wing media Wurlitzer of the last two decades shows that a small group of well-informed people who keep the heat up and gradually spread the effort around can convince officeholders and the media that people are paying attention to something other than the establishment spin.
Third, you should also have similar email and fax address books for the key people of your local newspaper(s) and TV stations, and just as importantly, the national writers, editors, and punditocracy. It is in my mind more important for the media to hear that todayís developments bother a significant group of folks, because in the absence of such dissent, our largely lazy corporate media wonít bother to hunt out dissent from the masses, and left to their own devices will return to the conservative establishment spin that is being fed to them at the Beltway cocktail parties and White House events. I have first hand experience at seeing several reporters and national columnists gradually change their coverage and tone on an issue when they see that people are paying attention and sending in emails and faxes challenging the spin being handed to the reporters at the government briefings. It may not happen overnight, but it can and does happen. The media will pay attention to well-informed opposition and those who are willing to stand up and make a reasonable opposition argument.
Fourth, instead of feeling alone with your concerns, join groups on issues that interest you so that you can network, obtain more information, be a better lobbyist of the media and officeholders, and build local networks of like-minded people. Even if many issues are of concern to you, there are many groups you can join for little money on a wide variety of issues that need you, and can allow for you to be heard by the local media.
My overall point is that no matter how bad some of these days get, you can set yourself up with the means and outlets to do something about it. Fretting about it and being silent is what your opponents want you to do, and it does no good for your own mental health or the country as a whole. Instead, speak up and you might be surprised at how many of your neighbors feel the same way but donít act because they donít want to feel alone. Make sure that you and like-minded people send emails and faxes to officeholders and the media, participate and organize, and most importantly, vote. It all sounds basic, but as we saw last November, failure to do so can set us back to a time where the optimism is sucked right out of us.
Enough babbling from me.
SotoPosted February 07, 2003 11:25 PM | Comments (26)