Watching your kid head off to fight a corporate war for empire, oil, and profit is one way to gain credibility and the right to an opinion. In fact, I probably know more about the costs of war than the majority of Americans ever dreamed about learning. Most of them, it seems, still couldn’t be bothered.
My son enlisted as an Army Infantryman out of a desire to provide service, with a sense of responsibility and integrity common to every enlisted man and woman I’ve ever met. My husband and I urged him to seek his call to service in an organization like the Peace Corps rather than the military, but when we saw his determination, and his desire to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps—my dad, a man he looked up to and emulated—we came to support his decision. What else could we do? After all, our son had been raised to walk his talk.
He left for basic training on September 10, 2001. You won’t need reminding of what happened the following day. With a sudden and awful clarity, I envisioned what the next few years of our lives were going to be like. Oh, shit. I’d quit smoking years before, but went out that afternoon and bought a pack of cigarettes.
Almost immediately, I began to protest against President Bush (aka Shrub) and his wars. I made connections with other military families and peace activists, co-organized, marched in, and spoke at local and statewide anti-war demonstrations, wrote letters to newspaper editors and essays for publication, and traveled to DC to network and take part in a massive antiwar march on Washington. This, at a time when public opinion was hostile towards anyone who dared speak out against Bush’s war (soon to be plural). Back then, if one were to put an ‘Impeach Bush’ sign at the end of their driveway, they’d soon find out just how many neighbors disagreed, and just how vehemently. Ask me how I know. We were the one percent, in reverse.
There were estimates of upwards of 100,000 in attendance at the DC march in October of 2002, and the vast majority of them probably self-identified—like me—as liberal. We took to the streets attempting to stop Bush’s wars, to be sure; but more than that, we were out there demanding an end to all imperialistic war.
Or so I thought.
Fast forward to 2008 and the election of Barack Obama. My candidate was Dennis Kucinich, but of course the establishment wasn’t going to let his voice for peace be heard. Obama was just another slick corporate shill so far as I could tell, although he sure knew how to perorate. After being moved to tears by his victory speech in Grant Park, I’ll admit to setting aside my skepticism and reservations for a heapin’ helpin’ of “hope and change,” and—fingers crossed—a little peace. Right. Not halfway through Obama’s first year in the White House, it became apparent that what we had on our hands was nothing more than a third term for George Bush. And so, remembering those 100,000 peace-loving souls protesting against the previous warmonger-in-chief back in 2002, I waited for the groundswell of liberal outrage that would surely rise again. Ten years later I’m still waiting, only now my expectations are transformed by cynicism. It appears that liberals are just as satisfied as conservatives to have a murderer-in-chief in the White House, so long as he’s on their team.
Face it. The anti-war liberal left is dead; or, at the very least, it’s bent, broken, and morally bankrupt. I find myself alternately disgusted and dismayed by this turn of events. How in the hell do today’s “liberals” look in the mirror? Because really, blowing up women and children and waging war on the earth doesn’t fit with any liberal or progressive agenda with which I’m familiar—unless one identifies as a liberal hawk. If so, check your pulse. And get a dictionary.
Once you label me, you negate me, said Soren Kierkegaard. So, while I readily cop to having old-school subversive, anti-authoritarian—maybe even radical—tendencies, I’ve handed in my worthless, devalued liberal/progressive card. I’m now a liberated, unlabeled, unaffiliated, unorthodox shape-shifter whose bottom line is still, and always, antiwar.
At this point it should be clear to any free-thinking individual that President Obama’s defenders ipso facto validate the sociopathic mindset that believes drones and secret wars are positive developments, and excuse and accept the military-industrial-complex status quo; i.e., racist, corporate warfare, dead, mutilated and orphaned Muslim children, plundered earth, a reeling global economy, and for-profit emotionally, mentally, and physically scarred American military men and women. Or dead ones. In which case, their remains may wind up in a landfill.
“America… just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.” Hunter S. Thompson
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not on a tirade against Obama, specifically. He’s merely the latest in a long line of corporatist warmongers—the current face on a broken, corrupted system. Obama is neither more nor less evil than Clinton or Bush, and progressives who believe he’s “better than Romney” are equally as wrong as those on the right who swear “anyone but Obama.” In fact, there’s no such thing as a lesser evil; we just continue to vote as if there was, sliding ever farther into the abyss until today, we find ourselves celebrating a “progressive” warrior president who wields his Nobel Peace Prize to justify war.
“There is really only one political party in this country, and it has two incestuously related branches.” Gore Vidal
When it comes to electoral politics, it’s imperative to recognize that—regardless of what we’ve been taught in high school civics class—the United States does not have a two party political system. Oh sure, there are two parties on the ballot, in the “news” (never mind those pesky Libertarians and Greens, etc), and seated on opposite sides of the aisle during the SOTU. Members of Congress speechify bombastically, spittle flying, about the moral deficiencies of their opponents. This makes for great theatrics; but peel the onion, look below the surface, and the fracas is revealed as a red herring. There’s just the one War Party, the RepubliCrats, funded, fueled and controlled by military contractor corporations. Forget about the one percent; it’s the 0.01 percent our “public servants” answer to, and it’s in their financial interests to keep us distracted and at each other’s throats.
So, if the system is criminally corrupt (and I contend that it is), then damn me if I can see how abiding by establishment rules will fix anything. The power structure—the corporate warlords who own this country lock, stock, and barrel—didn’t gain control by being honest. Acquiescing to “choose” from a pre-approved slate of establishment packaged, conveniently labeled political candidates maintains the collective illusion that the process grants us power. It doesn’t. Hell, the 2012 vote counts for 26 states have recently been offshored to Spain. We can’t even count our own votes? If the cards are that stacked against us, perhaps it’s time to stop playing the game.
“Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.” La Boetie
Personal secession is the ultimate method of withdrawing support from the system, but because who and what the establishment fears is always worthy of attention, I’ve remained involved by fomenting against the false choice of anointed candidate A or B, and actively supporting anti-establishment candidate C…Ron Paul (R-TX). Wait. When has any candidate with an R and a TX following their name qualified as ‘anti-establishment?’ Fact is, the last thing the power structure wants is an unowned, principled, antiwar candidate with a decades-long track record of standing by his oath to the Constitution (in Dr. Paul’s case, taken twice, both in the military and in congress). I’ve done my homework on his career, preferring to learn for myself rather than take anyone else’s word for it; but if I hadn’t, the consolidated media and political establishment blitz against Dr. Paul would almost be reason enough to throw my support behind him. Disregard the letters following Paul’s name; they’re meaningless. I could list link after link of antithetical evidence countering the right-wing-crazy label the left tries to attach to him (incidentally, the establishment right portrays him as a crazy conservative-killing liberal), but people learn more when they actually do a little work for themselves. Hint: Google Ron Paul plus peace.
At the outside chance that any Obama supporting Yellow Dog Democrats who’ve drunk the party line Kool-Aid—and therefore couldn’t possibly bring themselves to support any Republican (even less so a misogynistic, racist, batshit crazy isolationist like Ron Paul, don’t cha know!)—have read this far, I offer a challenge: Sit down with a pencil and paper and make a list of your priorities. If stopping your country from killing poor people and blowing up little children isn’t the apex of your so-called liberal agenda, I suggest a serious gut check is in order. Because neoliberalism ain’t your mama’s liberalism anymore. And that ain’t a good thing.
Teri Allison is nobody special, living smack dab in the middle of nowhere, rasslin’ with the concepts of self-sustainability and communal family living, and laboring under the illusion that her words might somehow have an impact on someone, somewhere. She deeply regrets not having done more to leave her children and grandchildren a cleaner, greener, more peaceful world, and dreams that her efforts to make up for lost time will bear fruit beyond the wildest imaginings.
Copyright C2012 Teri Wills Allison