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Davis, California

Friday, July 12, 2024

A view from the Soapbox

Welcome to the day after. As you read this, you will know the results of a historic presidential race I can only assume at this time. I could make some stock comments about “the American journey continuing or a ready-made quip about “our experiment with democracy, maybe even lay on a little Lincoln-quoting (I was thinkingdogmas of the quiet past“) to further inflate the moment past its due, but even on the eve of a probable liberal ascendancy there remains an unchanged truth of which we must oft remind ourselves.

We cannot look to politicians for change.

Looking through the promises that have been made, we citizens are governed without any guarantees. The men (and women, I hear) on Capitol Hill are obligated by nothing to uphold the interests of the public. Constitutional principle is as concrete as the desiccated parchment the document is written on. The Supreme Court is as uninterested in regulating the activity of the other branches as Congress is uninterested in bothering to declare war. The Bush Administration has battered through our rights (unwarranted wiretapping and surveillance, covert political incarcerations and sabotage, the Patriot Act, daytime television) and doesn’t hold itself accountable to the laws of the country over which it presides. Karl Rove can walk out of a courtroom today wearing the same “zero-accountability smirk that Jack Ruby wore in63, strolling through police lines to cap a suspected presidential assassin. The economic forces that most directly affect our well-being are dictated by a central bank and well-couched interest groups that we’ll never elect. The gazillonaire gamblers that make and break Wall Street can smash up our livelihoods and then take a break from destroying the American dream to enjoy their Bailout Bahamasvacation packages. We remain at war with countries we realize now to have no real reason to have invaded and fundamental civil rights of gay marriage and reproductive freedom are still on the ballot. All the singing Obama children in the world couldn’t hide the fact that the system is going to hell.

As much respect I have for the man and as much as he has to offer the office of the President, presumed victor Barack Obama cannot be expected to overturn the infrastructure that brought him to office. Sooner or later during his stay on the throne, he’ll have to say to the change-hopefuls,Guys, it was just PR.Throughout the cash-laden process of the electoral death race, Obama’s been called a visionary, a Kennedy, a Roosevelt, a Lincoln and a messiah by his sycophantic press minstrels and called a terrorist, a socialist and a misogynist by his detractors. In the end, none of those praises or smears will stick. He’ll be who he is and he’ll do what he can, but he’s already shown a trend toward playing it safe at the expense of his ideals on corporate campaign contributions and withdrawal from Iraq. Don’t look to a politician for change; they’ve got things like re-election and staying alive on their minds.

Change has got to come from the people. Never forget that there is where power is found, in you and your fellow humans. All goods, all services, can be traced right back to the people, all of us super-sentient apes-once-removed. Government only exists because we let it, and it only functions to goad the powerful mass of humanity in this way or that, usually helped along by sedatives and a shock prod. Even if the prez issued a comprehensive Executive Order to all American citizens to “be nice at all times, you’d never see the results unless we took it upon ourselves to be nice. Even if the Chosen One somehow convinced corporations to dish out their uselessly vast earnings to the common men and women of this country (and not leave the planet in reverse-engineered UFOs,) you’d never see a new world unless we decided to use our money responsibly.

We must all live change. We must all embody change. We must learn to use our powers of being and work together, regardless of whatever joker’s in charge.


CHEYA CARY readily admits the unconventionality of this piece and looks forward to writing something not related to the election. Call him a spaz at cjcary@ucdavis.edu.


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