Mission Statement Draft #13419
So, the news from the centers of power is grim. Exceedingly grim. The Democratic Party is, as an institution, putting on a world-class clinic in organizational dysfunction. In complete control of the government, they have failed to make any significant achievements over the course of a full year. Their only big move, last winter's stimulus plan, has been roundly understood to be too timid, and as a result the economy, while still existent, is in a prolonged "jobless recovery" limbo.
Then last week's one-two combination of truly devastating news. First the pseduo-aristocratic nomination of a Kennedy-family apparatchik to succeed old Teddy in Massachusetts going down in flames to a right-winger in a pickup who flat out wanted it more. Scott Brown did five times as many public events as Coakly, had a hot-shit new media team (running Drupal), and surged at the end to take the win. That's Edward Kennedy's seat, going to a rather immoderate Republican, and bringing an end to the 60-vote theory of power in the Senate.
Republicans Seize 41 - 59 Senate Majority
That seems ridiculous, but it's more or less true. As a fighting entity, the Democratic Senate is somewhere below slime-mold in effectiveness. They lack any coherent vision, and the leadership simply does not have the will to utilize power. Obama's plan of rational and honest engagement with his opposition has yielded zero policy results, and his inability or unwillingness to strongly define himself or his agenda as anything other than "the establishment with brains" has resulted in an epic collapse in his polling numbers. Meanwhile, unemployment remains at 10% and people are fucking pissed off that Hope and Change appears to have been merely a slogan, used to elect a very eloquent chump.
Against this backdrop, the Supreme Court has ruled once again that Corporations are People and have 1st amendment rights to political speech, meaning they can now spend unlimited sums on influencing the outcomes of elections. Organized Labor being a shadow of its former self, it seems the near-term outlook of the US political system is pretty damn dim. Established economic interests are going to continue dominating national politics for the foreseeable future, likely until some external/existential event forces larger-scale change.
In terms of how this plays out, I think the Democrats are going to get shellacked in the upcoming 2010 elections, which will likely result in increased timidity on their part should they retain majorities. Net-net: two years of gridlock in DC. While the economy will likely improve organically by the time 2012 rolls around, it seems unlikely that it will really get zooming since the ability of the state to effectively re-orient things away from massively unproductive activities like tract home building and financial skimming appears to be nil. People will still be upset, underemployed, angry, and looking to blame. Meanwhile the coalition of unlikely voters who rallied behind Obama in 2008 are demoralized and may stay home, as unlimited corporate money pours in to fill the void.
In brief, the Black President is looking down the barrel of a one-term legacy with no policy achievements. His putative successor on the right would almost certainly lack substantive remedies to the problems of our time — "let the market sort it out" will, um, not work — but would almost certainly possess a will to utilize power and a savvy team of political manipulators. The hegemon becomes most militarily active in its period of decline.
While I hope to be proven wrong — there's always a hope in my heart that we'll have an awesome montage-worthy darkest-hour-turnaround, but I can't do anything about it but hope — the vegas line favors a real shitshow. Even if we get a crappy beachhead of Health Care Reform, that's all we'll get, and we'll likely have to wait for generational turnover to get a chance like this again.
Thus: back to the drawing board. In the emerging environment, agents of change will need to move laterally, so simply/directly set about acquiring power and building parallel institutions to the establishment. We will need to out-compete large corporations to regain control of the state, or possibly to obsolete the state by finding other ways of doing for ourselves. Either way, no small task. Demographics are ostensibly on our side, but without a lot of organizing that won't mean much. We'll need to develop a whole set tools and the reasons to use them if we're going to have much of a chance.
Thus: mission statements.
This is an experiment, a process of becoming. I don't know the answers, but I have a sense of the questions. I know the future will be different from the past, and I'm though with waiting for that to be defined by anyone else. The sooner we start living the way we want the world to be — the more contagiously, courageously and publicly we do this — the more influence we can have over the changes to come.
And change is coming, no doubt about it. It's time to roll the dice, shoot the moon, bet the farm; because if not now when? If not us who? If not this, what? Risk is our business, fortune favors the bold, and I believe right-thinking people can take over this planet and usher in a golden era if only we have the will to do so. I want more power and more freedom and I want to bring joy to the people around me, to people around the world.
I take it on faith that a better world is possible, one in which all humans lead good lives, where we all work less and play more and no-one dies for stupid tragic reasons like a lack of clean water or mosquito bites. I take it on faith that war is an unnecessary evil, and that we can (indeed, must) recognize a shared fate as a species, and learn to get along together. I take it on faith that it is our destiny to explore the universe, to unlock its secrets, harness its energies, to dive deep, to fly high, eventually to live on other worlds. I take it on faith that the rate of human progress is more or less up to us, and I want to get there faster.
This is where I develop my theory and keep track of what happens when I try to put it into practice. This is where the structural hole becomes a node, where we cross the streams. This is the story of the rubber and the road, of what happens when you stop taking things on faith and start taking them into your own hands.