Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Commencement season -- So, let's commence (further) changing the world.

John Nichols, just a day or so ago, spoke to an audience at the Kansas City (MO) Public Library on the topic, How to Reclaim Our Democracy from the Corporations. I am VERY thankful for those who had the foresight to record the talk. It's worth every one of the 72 minutes of your time (52 for the talk, 20 for Q and A).

Toward the end, Nichols cites Fighting Bob LaFollette, Wisconsin Republican turned Progressive, who rightfully taught that the reality is that we have a permanent struggle in this country. It's not a win once and for all time struggle. We know now that we are in a gilded age.
Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette, the populist governor, U.S. Senator, and presidential candidate from Wisconsin who founded the Progressive Party and spent his career battling the corrupting, impoverishing and anti-democratic influence of big moneyed interests over government and public policy.    
This meshes with Machiavellian Democracy which,
then capitalizes on ever-present moments of aristocratic oppression by seeking and putting in place institutional arrangements through which the people vigorously and effectively respond to the grandi's oppressive schemes and actions; it empowers the people to halt the grandi's insolent behavior, punish those who are especially guilty of it and establish new laws that reset the grandi's institutional boundaries for future action. (McCormick, p. 31) (emphasis mine)
Two years ago in February, Nichols spoke in Phoenix at an event, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders, and touched on his then recently released book UPRISING. In the last year, we have seen progressive Arizonans (and some that might not identify themselves as such) taking vigorous and effective action to stop the Voter Suppression Act (#StopHB2305), stop the religious oppression bill SB1062, and put the brakes on GOP plans to aggressively expand the Alt-Schools fiasco. Let's not forget Kavanagh's $900,000 wet kiss to the private prison industry. Populist outrage put a stop to that, just like it has his bathroom bills and some other cockamamie ideas he's come up with to oppress people.

Those actions did not take place by accident, but rather by design.

Despite in-state pundits not having (YET) denounced their disrespect for legislative Democrats, don't be fooled. It took a village... in this case, it took Democratic lawmakers (whose influence is on the upswing because of and) along with grassroots activism, boots on the ground protest and populist (non-corporate) media. Okay, bold reporting by a handful of journalists employed by corporate media helped some too.

Anyway, Nichols closed his talk in Kansas City by saying,
The only thing that will destroy America is if YOU decide it's [reclaiming Democracy from the corporations] too much for you to do. Because the fact of the matter is that every generation has fixed the thing. From Tom Paine on. And now we're putting the responsibility in your hand. The great anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss hated it when someone would ask, "when was the Golden Age?" Because that suggested this is not the Golden Age. We have to stop thinking that way and to start thinking that the Golden Age is in us.
The most powerful tool money has in this [political] process is the suggestion that it will always win. That's much more powerful than anything else. WE have immense power within us to fix this thing. We have fixed this thing again and again and again. We can live in the greatest time in history. It only requires us to engage.
So, in this season for high school and college commencement ceremonies, let's get started with a summer of burning up the chaff of Republicans like Andy Biggshot, Tobin, Kavanagh, Yarbrough... and especially Tom Horne.

On the subject of commencements, Admiral William H McRaven, commander of U.S Special Operations Command gave a pretty inspiring speech to the 2014 graduating class of the University of Texas. McRaven, by the way, graduated from UT in 1977.

He cites the UT motto, "What starts here changes the world," then goes on to share some insights on how to do just that.

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