Bull beat brains just about everywhere in America on election day last Tuesday, (with an exception or two), and anyone who still harbors the hope that the American Dream is alive, that the future will be better than the past, simply was not paying attention. People who profess not to believe in climate change have been given power over our national response to this rising threat to our continued existence; people who owe their souls to industrialists have been given responsibility for protecting ordinary citizens from the depredations of industry. We the passengers of the Titanic just elected a crew that doesn’t believe in icebergs.
As a result of Tuesday’s exercise in representative democracy, the people have declared that you and I should give up all hope:
- that any measures whatsoever, however timid and inadequate to the challenge, will be taken in the foreseeable future to mitigate the awesome flood of pollutants into the air that is making our planet ever more hostile to human life;
- that any meaningful regulations or restrictions will be placed on the industries that are blowing out the last of our shale-bound gas and oil, unleashing as they do a hideous cascade of toxins, greenhouse gases, carcinogens, radioactivity and earthquakes;
- that anyone can now stand up to the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline to carry caustic, volatile, diluted bitumen from the Canadian tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico, across the American breadbasket and its vital aquifer, the Ogallala;
- that any restraints will be imposed on the rogue superbanks that are engaged in exactly the same practices that came within a hair of destroying the world’s economy in 2008, on the theory that when you do the same thing over again you get different results;
- that the so-called “War on Coal” will be seen for what it actually is — at attempt to minimize pollution from coal burning and avoid the fate of China’s strangling millions;
- that any meaningful measures can be taken toward renewing our perilously deteriorated highways, bridges,water and sewer systems, electric grid, airports and air traffic control systems, even our weather satellites, because doing anyof that would require taxes, and we no longer do taxes;
- that there is any end in sight of the determination of one of our two parties to prevent any success in governing, no matter how desperately needed by the people, if the credit for that success would go to the head of state, who is of another party — an attitude that our Founding Fathers, had they been able to conceive of it, would have branded corrupt if not treasonous;
- that the iron grip of big money on our elections will be in any way lessened, anytime in the near or far future, in a country where only millionaires get into the room, and only billionaires get a seat at the table.
The die-hard, small-d democrats among us will hold tightly to the straw of Richmond, California, the little city where Chevron Oil blew $3 million — that’s $76 for every registered voter in the city — trying to elect a mayor and city council that would stop bothering them about the explosions, fires and pollution issuing from their giant Richmond refinery. Chevron was handed its head on a dipstick by local candidates who raised maybe $40 thousand each, if that.
And it is true that a fired-up electorate led by people who work hard and organize well, can always defeat the money — it’s demonstrated in every election cycle as the few examples that prove the rule (the Golden Rule: he who has the gold, rules).
But how to fire the electorate up when they’re busy watching Fox News and fulminating about Benghazi? And who will lead them when all the politicos are out begging money from the big dogs with which to run attack ads on television?
We must forget Washington, and all politics, abandon hope that someone will figure out how to save the system — they’re not even working the problem. Instead, we must learn to live sustainably and resiliently. We must work hard at it, get good at it, have courage, and wait for signs.