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Old 11-09-2006   #1
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
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2006 Elections

Well, it looks good for the Democrats: They took the House and the Senate.

Yesterday, I had a couple of my friends call me to proclaim their joy about the Democratic victory. But, for some reason I wasn't as excited as them. I asked myself how I became such a cynic about the US gov't? I am normally an optimistic person in other matters of my life; I still believe that there is an abundance of new possibilities for humanity. But, something just doesn't sit right with me about our current political/economic system.

Well, I read this article this morning and it kind of resonates with how I feel about the system:

Here is the intro of the article... click the link below to read the whole thing.
As I stood in line for coffee on the morning after election night, a Democratic Party supporter ahead of me in line said, "Thank God this country is finally switching trains."

If only that were true.

On Election Day 2006, the U.S. public didn't switch trains but simply ratified a different group of conductors.

It's the same old train, on the same tracks, heading in the same direction.

This isn't an argument that there are never any meaningful differences between politicians; sometimes it does matter who is giving the orders on the train. But on this day after the morning-after, it's crucial for those with a critical perspective to highlight that this train -- contemporary U.S. society -- is barreling forward toward disaster, no matter who's punching tickets.

Here's the unavoidable reality: Our train is on an unsustainable course in cultural, political, economic, and ecological terms. In a predatory corporate capitalist economy in an imperial state -- a system that values the concentration of wealth and power, and devalues people -- certain things are inevitable:

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Old 11-09-2006   #2
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Indian Hills, Colorado
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I'm not optimistic it will make much difference either. The best I can say is "it could be worse." A deadlocked Washington is an improvement.

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Old 11-09-2006   #3
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Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Deadlocked Washington - kind of like the wrecking ball that the Bush Administration's been using on Western Civilization lost power?
Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 11-09-2006   #4
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Thought-criminal, Colorado
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Must admit, B.C. and Alberta look better every year.
I hope in the future Americans are thought of as a warlike, vicious people, because I bet a lot of high schools would pick "Americans" as their mascot. -Jack Handy
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Old 11-09-2006   #5
Vail, Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
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I agree that it is not going to make an immediate difference but it is something. It is a stop to the passing of all legislature and funding like someone breaking wind in a crowded subway, everyone just looks away. Its a start to reforming the government in the long run and holding the criminals involved accountable for the crimes they have commited. It is a start to get people like BSOE and the other troops back sooner than starting it two years from now when W is ousted from his unethical empire he has created. Though it will be a stand still for the next two years and old Goergey boy will probably take more vacations as president than he ever has ( and thats a sh%t load), he will at least have a checks and balances system he has never had, one which was set up by our four fathers. I am happy that things turned out the way they have after the election, it gives me hope for the future and so I can travel to other countries and not have people agro towards me because I am an American and be proud to say I am an American and that I (finally) support my government... My $0.02.... Could be worse.
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Old 11-09-2006   #6
Denver, Colorado
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Steve and Dan: I agree that "it could be worse." As the author of this article suggests: The Democratic led train is simply going to run off the cliff going 90mph instead of the Republican speed of 100mph. IS that really any better? Will the Democrats really wash their hands of elite corporate control, and choose a new sustainable track for this country? I hope so! But, I'm skeptical.

These words below are from a part of a monologue written by a guy named Phil Rockstroh...just something to ponder:

What belies Democrats inability to agitate for meaningful change is: At a deeper level, they, as is the case with most of us Americans, realize that, in order to live in the manner to which we have become accustomed, we must continue our complicity in the crimes of empire. Hence, they realize they would be politically burned at the stake if they ever ventured to utter such heresy aloud.

For, deep down, we know that our actions are not only unethical, but unsustainable as well. Our minds have difficultly grasping this fact; its ramifications are too overwhelming. The knowledge -- that we maintain “our way of life” on the bartered blood of the innocent -- is too unnerving. Its implications are too damning; therefore, we banish such thoughts to the darkest regions of our unconscious.

It would seem: We can't see the forest through ourselves.

We whimper into the abyss for reassurance.

The abyss replies: “It's always darkest, right before ... it goes completely black.”

In this manner, we unwittingly carry the darkness of empire. Perhaps, if we Americans were to unburden ourselves of the illusion of our exceptionalism, our load would lighten. It would be easier to support the load, if we relieved ourselves of the weight of so many lies, self-deceptions and rationalizations, as well as the other onerous byproducts of our denial.

At this point, given the abysmal levels of mass ignorance, self-deception and delusion at large, are we Americans even up to the task? Or has our pervasive disconnect from civic life deteriorated to such an extent that a majority of us are even capable of apprehending the dire circumstances confronting the nation? (It would seem that not only have we chosen to ignore an elephant standing in the living room of our collective awareness, but we have chosen to cover him over with nondescript upholstery and now regard him as part of the furniture.)
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Old 11-09-2006   #7
Denver, Colorado
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Before everyone goes and jumps off a bridge, lets remember that things are not that bad. Government and politics are full of bullshit and corruption, but its not just the US, its everywhere. If you focus on the negative too much, thats all you see.

As for life in the USA, its not like there are not any problems, but life is generally pretty good. We have a high standard of living, lots of opportunities and loads of good things going for us.

My wife immigrated to the US from Hungary in 1982 when it was controlled by communists and where life did and still does suck. Her mom spoke no english and worked in a bakery, and in various low paying jobs that barely provided enough cash to feed and clothe the kids. She went to public school in florida, and kicked ass by studying very hard. She got an academic scholarship and went to college, and eventually got into medical school. To me, thats the american dream. You can come to america, and if you bust ass you can make something of yourself and make a difference. I've heard lots of stories like that too. I took a cab to the airport and the cabbie was from Iran and has been driving cabs in the US for years and years. He busted ass and his kids both are going to college next year, and he is so proud of them and loves america for giving him the chance to do it. America is a dream for many people who have no opportunity to make something of their lives, to be able to educate and take care of their children, and to hopefully have a good life. I don't go around waving flags or anything like that, but I think that life is very good for us and that we should be thankful for the many good things that we have.

I went to Peru for two weeks to volunteer to help study fish in the amazon river basin. The people there were so poor, no electricity, poor health care, drug running guerrila's with guns in the jungle. The place was a mess. I feared for my life many times, and riding in a truck with police with machine guns to make sure you don't getComing back home made me realize the incredible comforts and peaceful living that we tke for granted.

Are there some major problems that we need to face? Sure. Are we up to the challenge? We have to be. I think that there is a silent majority of people in this country that are practical, hard working, and compassionate. With the right leadership, we can accomplish change. I think that our government does not give us enought credit either. If a president came out with a comprehensive plan to reduce oil dependence that provided a long term solution and wanted to raise taxes to pay for it, I think it would fly. The current idea of never raising taxes or not having to spend more money is the issue. Americans are not that stupid and I think that we can understand that there is no such thing as getting something for free.

So, there are problems, but I think that the positives outweight the negatives. I have met people from canada, sweden, holland, new zealand, africa, asia, you name it, who love american and wouldn't want to move back to their homeland. I'm not saying america is better, I'm saying that people from around the world consiously make the choice to come here because they fell that their lives are better and that their children's lives will be better too.

When you look at some of the good things that America does too, in things like science, medical research, humanitiarian aid etc, we do an incredible amount. We don't solve all of the problems. We certainly screw a lot of things up with our military over zealous bring democracy to the world.

In the end, I don't think that the world hates america either, they just hate the american government, and thats understandable.

As for me, I'm just happy I can live in a house, take care of my family, go kayaking, and have a generally good life.

I think we all probably need a little break from the politics. The lack of water isn't helping things either. Once the election is a distant memory and the powder is on us, hopefully the pessimism will subside.
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Old 11-09-2006   #8
Vail, Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
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I too am a realist but, I am am also an optimist as well.... a difficult combination to maintain but I humor myself sometimes when attempting to cope with it and situations. You have your ideas as well as all of us, we all have unlimited essays to read on the subject.... which derives from anothers perception, point of view as well as statistics. Yes, there are facts based in these essays but "Gothem" was overturned by evil and Batman did a total makeover, that is what I hope for. Now again, I am a realist but I can hope as well. It will never be perfect but you have to look at the big picture, maybe the first half of the train will sky rocket off the cliff 10 mph slower than the republicans conductors but maybe, and just maybe, half, a thrid or even a quarter of the train will actually stop on the tracks then redirct itself at a nice steady calm pace everyone can enjoy. All indicators lead us to believe the outcome as being gloom, take a chance and see in the long run what can become. This is a start is it not? Rome wasn't built in a day nor did anyone expect it to be what it became (now don't take that out of context to be we are going to concour the world and what not). Have some optimism with your cereal in the morning.
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Old 11-09-2006   #9
Denver, Colorado
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deepsouthpaddler: Great stories, and I agree that We are fortunate. There is so much to be cherished about America and its people.

Steve: Dude, where do you buy that optimism for cereal in the morning? I'll definitely buy some.

Look, what I am trying to bring to light is that to grow in a positive direction involves taking a honest introspection of yourself and your surroundings. The first article I posted is trying to do just that. I especially like the end of it when he brings in hope for a new possible direction:
Our political work should focus on connecting with people on common ground, and then working to shape a radically new vision of justice and sustainability. The time for that is now; the direction and speed of the train dictate that we not put it off any longer. It's time to dig in for what one writer has dubbed "the long emergency."

I think that in the two years to come before the presidential election, pressing this kind of analysis is the crucial political work for those committed to left/feminist/antiracist values and progressive politics. Rather than fussing about how to persuade Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean of the need for radical action, let's take that message to ordinary people, who are more likely to listen.

This isn't about who can be most radical for the sake of being radical -- it's about whether we can be realistic. Such an approach cannot promise political transformation in the short-term, but I believe it is the only hope for our future.
Trust me, I know there are some very positive things that are growing in this world right now... I have been and continue to be a part of some of them (the kayaking community is one of them). I, too, really hope that the Democrats will help stop our current path and set a new agenda for a sustainable way of life. And, we should hold them accountable to this! But, I also think that it is essential for us to grasp and wrestle with the darker parts of our lives in order to bring new light to the situation. I have personally taken on the daunting task of introspection and have faced some of my own shadows; it was a scary task, but in the end I am the better for it. Too often I see people not dealing with the crap that lies in front of them and instead they try to squirm their way around the situation with only wishful thinking. All I'm trying to do is remind everybody that we still need to deal with the great big piece of poop that lies in front of us. I hope that the Dems taking control of the House and Senate are the first step to a long series of introspections for our nation as a whole.

Alright, enough said from me. I am now going to take a long break from mtn buzz.

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Old 11-09-2006   #10
Denver, Colorado
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Agreed Marko. Lots of stuff to work on, for us and the world in general. Lots to be thankful for too. Here's to hoping that the future brings positive change, and to hoping that we all try to make a positive difference to help it along.

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