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Moyers writes: "Here at home 'We, the people' are losing that ongoing battle in all societies between wealth and commonwealth as inequality blooms, the middle class withers and the poor are still with us, their numbers growing."

(image: youtube)
(image: youtube)


Celebrate the Revolution - And Keep It Going

By Bill Moyers and Bernard Weisberger, Moyers & Company

04 July 14

 

he Glorious Fourth is a day to let ‘er rip, be as red-white-and-blue as you like, hang out the flag, join the parade, keep an eye on the sky where those fireworks are bursting in air. Start early: pop a Sousa into the sound system, turn up the volume (not too loudly out of respect for the neighbors) and eat breakfast in march tempo. Later there’ll be hot dogs and potato salad, ball games to watch and the evening festivities on the Mall on PBS. And, if there are kids of all ages around and grown-up guests, or just the two or one of you, read aloud — or repeat from memory — the opening paragraphs of the Declaration, up to the Bill of Particulars of the King’s “usurpations and abuses.” Cherish the sound of those words — “the separate and equal station to which the laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle us… unalienable rights…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…consent of the governed…laying its foundations on such principles…to guarantee their safety and happiness,” that last word used in the 18th century sense of “well-being.”

But on this particular 7/4/14 don’t deny the reality that insists on breaking in. We’re being dragged back into the chaos of the Middle East. We are engaged in a “war on terror” that places security over liberty with the uncritical and tacit consent of too many people. We’re told that we’re a superpower and a superpower can never retire, even if it must become a “snooperpower.” Is that the “separate and equal station” among nations that the Declaration referred to? On this day in 1981 Ronald Reagan declared that “putting people first has always been America’s secret weapon.” Tell that to Wall Street titans, hedge fund managers, multinational CEOs and the US Chamber of Commerce for whom profits over people has become a mantra. Here at home “We, the people” are losing that ongoing battle in all societies between wealth and commonwealth as inequality blooms, the middle class withers and the poor are still with us, their numbers growing.

How do we restore the sense that it’s still terrific to be American?

Start with that other publication of 1776, Common Sense. Yes, admire, respect, cherish the words of the Declaration. But allow yourself to be set on fire by the blunt, fiery salvos against the “royal brute of Britain” fired from the pen of Tom Paine. It’s not just because he was such a tremendous journalist and propagandist, who spoke the language of the ordinary folks from whom he himself came. No, not just that. It’s because Paine understood and gave voice to the essential and potential radicalism of the American Revolution.” We have it in our power,” he said, “to begin the world anew!!” America’s was the first large-scale application of the idea of revolution. Resist the seductive idea of some historians that the Constitution was first and foremost a kind of conservative reaction to the free-swinging proclamation of human rights in the Declaration, that it made rules, set boundaries, protected contracts and property rights (including property in Negro slaves) and deliberately made the Senate a conservative assembly, serving longer terms and not elected directly by the people.

All true, but the Constitution set no religious or property qualifications for any Federal office, gave the power of the purse to the chamber elected directly by the people of the states, guaranteed to them a “republican form of government,” abolished hereditary aristocracy, proclaimed in its Preamble (conveniently ignored by the political and financial powers-that-be) that it was “We, the People” who ordained and established the Union, in order, among other aspirations, to “promote the general welfare.” That was new and dazzling in 1787 and it began to clear the ground for beginning the world anew, setting the pace for democratic revolutions that burst into being around the globe, and pushing Americans themselves to keep expanding the zone of freedom.

Think on these and of Paine’s sparkplug role. Then summon his spirit to remind yourself that we can, if we really care, pick up the broken thread of democratic zeal. We are not a people content with a yellow stripe down our backs. We know the difference between compromise and surrender of ideals. We are not of a nature to be contented with “the lesser of two evils.”

So on Friday supplement your reading of the Declaration of Independence with a passage or two chosen from Common Sense or Paine’s later work to rally the weary Continental armies, The Crisis. You might like to visit your local library, take out a copy and do likewise on our nation’s 238th birthday. And start fighting back!

How?

Recognize that for all of us, these, too, are the times that try our souls. Be peacefully but persistently aggressive. Demand of your representatives at national, state and local levels: either they deliver their votes to break the Money Power or they don’t get yours. Nothing less will get their attention. This weekend and in the coming elections they will be showing up in person; find out when they will be where you live and turn up to challenge them. Don’t wait for some far-off organization to send you a petition. Get off the couch and picket their home offices. If you are ignored, or they protest that your defection will lead to their defeat, remind them of the advice of General Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox of Revolutionary fame: “We fight, get beat, rise and fight again.” That’s why the Constitution provides for frequent elections, new chances to turn opinion in your favor. And that’s why it ensures your right to be as demonstrative as it takes to be heard. Don’t leave it to others. Be as immovable on your side as the tea party is on theirs and don’t shrink when the corporate media and partisans on the cable channels and talk radio equate you with them as “extremists” and sing their love songs to “centrism.” Write to the editors of your newspapers or what is left of them, go see them, call on the heads of the networks and tell them to fire their carnival barkers for the one tenth of one percent who have bought our government, or at the very least open their pages and their mikes and cameras to genuine debate with bona fide reformers and radicals of many stripes.

Make your first absolute demand an amendment to strip corporations of their personhood, nothing less. The Supreme Court isn’t sacrosanct either; Congress can change its size and the scope of its jurisdiction. Remind your representatives and senators that Citizens United can be reversed.

And watch those state legislatures, where revolutions — of right or left — can get started. Make so-called “off year” elections meaningful; get to know your state legislators, follow the example of North Carolina’s “Moral Monday” protestors, demand of your local news outlets more news of what’s being done in your name in the state capitals. Declare your opposition to legislators in bed with ALEC, Big Money’s spin machine and treasury that’s enacting the legal agenda of corporate control of our economy and our lives, one law at a time.

Take direct action: it’s your right. Boycott restaurants that won’t pay minimum wages to their staffs the way the black citizens of Montgomery boycotted their segregated buses and won. Eat at home and put the money you save into the campaigns of candidates who take no corporate money and will vote for public financing of elections. Don’t wait for new parties to form, for organizations to draft platforms. Deny your dollars to food industry conglomerates that push sweet and fattening drinks on your kids. Make the Almighty Dollar your weapon instead of theirs.

Be as passionate and involved as those populists of the First Gilded Age who wrested hymns from their original context and gathered to sing battle songs against Mammon. Christianity began as a radical religion of the lower classes. Remember the Hebrew prophets of old: Jeremiah, Amos, Isaiah and their poetic and pulsing cries for social justice. Speak out in your churches and congregations of whatever faith, or in your professional and social clubs. Be willing to work with others who disagree with you on social issues but recognize that inequality is an equal-offender crime; it poisons the lives of pro-choice and anti-choice, gay and straight, black, white and brown with cold impartiality. Parade, picket and protest wherever figures of power and authority gather to plan new devices of enrichment for the few at the expense of the many. If the police attempt to herd you into “protest zones” far from the action try the old radical but nonviolent tactic of refusing en masse and filling up the jails.

Off the wall? Too extreme? Our situation is extreme; this is no time for summer soldiers and sunshine patriots. Even a sensible billionaire like entrepreneur Nick Hanauer gets it. “The oldest and most important conflict in human societies,” he says, “is the battle over the concentration of wealth and power.” Of capitalism he writes:

It can be managed either to benefit the few in the near term or the many in the long term. The work of democracies is to bend it to the latter…We should never forget that, or forget that the United States of America and its middle class made us, rather than the other way around. Or we could sit back and do nothing, enjoy our yachts. And wait for the pitchforks.

The tea party gets its strength from the commitment of members who see themselves as fighting an oppressive government run by social engineers. They’ve got the right idea but the wrong villains and their successes only deliver us into the hands of government owned by robber barons. What we need this Independence Day is to take aim at that “long train of abuses and usurpations” visited on us by monied interests, invoking as the Declaration tells us, our right, our duty to “throw off such government and provide new guards for [our] security and well being.”

We haven’t come this far by crawling on our knees. Stand up – and reclaim the patriot’s dream.

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+16 # michelle 2014-07-04 11:14
On this Fourth of July I will be flying my American flag upside down.
 
 
+19 # barkingcarpet 2014-07-04 11:44
Agreed, and thank you. My symbol for a few years has been an upside down u.s. flag, with an earh in the middle, and a $ sign in the center.....

We need Patriots. Patriots for peace, and not knee jerking nationalists for entitled destruction and profit.

http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/78-78/24559-qhappyq-independence-day-everyday-folks

I put this up on Godot yesterday.
 
 
+16 # michelle 2014-07-04 14:07
Excellent piece. I too, often drift into frustration and despair. Do conservatives ever look at this planet, the incredible beauty, a great gift or do they only see the opportunity to exploit. We as a people have so much to do, so much to repair and so much to rethink. We need real discussion about how we want to live, what future we want to see and most of all how do we want to live in the present. If we have learned anything from the past week, this Fourth of July should be a day of reflection.
 
 
+16 # bobaka 2014-07-04 12:02
What is the basis of patriotism? The belief that the collective protects the rights of the individual common person. The nation does not and never did protect the rights of the individual commoner.The constitution grants continual privilege for the aristocracy after a supposedly anti-aristocrat ic uprising. The central banking system was put in place and the dollar as debt replaced the gun as eliminator of freedom. It was planned and we are still controlled by their honorific system. If you don't know about the International Bank of Settlements then you can't explain the empty rhetoric that is grafted into people's minds as they are slowly poisoned by the very food that they eat.It is humbling to realize how and why we are endlessly lied to. If you are lied to, you will never feel secure as a human. The 4th is national disgrace day for the common man trapped in racist, sexist, ageist, caste structured Amerika.
 
 
+1 # James Marcus 2014-07-04 12:23
Revolution. Indeed!
Refuse to Fight!
Refuse TO PAY!
Refuse to Vote, until there is a REAL Voting Alternative
 
 
+14 # ZLS 2014-07-04 12:35
Yay! Bill Moyers and Company! I often despair only to be re-inspired by such a piece of writing and research as this . Cherishing and respecting President Obama, his dignity, his brilliance, his values, good sense and goals as I do, as well as the principles of the Democratic party, I join with Moyers today, Thanks RSS.
 
 
+12 # AUCHMANNOCH 2014-07-04 16:47
America was a great idea, a prospective shining light and beacon of hope in a dark world. It's a shame that it is now failed state in the true meaning of the term.

Just like Animal Farm the pigs and scum now rule the American roost. Is this the fate of all nations? Are 99% of people fated to be helpless for ever and in the selfish control of the rich and powerful.
 
 
-3 # robcarter.vn 2014-07-04 19:14
Rob Carter's USA Independence Day Medal of War Criminal infamy:-
# robcarter.vn 2014-07-04 17:05 ~
Just 12 years later this mistake caused Australia to grow as a Peaceful Colony for eventual Independence & self rule as a British Commonwealth stalwart, needing no ongoing conflict and strife such as the American Independence by war has bequeathed them ever since. 

As the story says "The time bomb laid beneath history 238 years ago is a time bomb of pure conundrum, and the people who put it there knew that the essential engine of democracy is paradox, noble bluffs to be called, high-minded promises in savage conflict with each other. And they knew that, too, all of them, when they piled the dirt atop the time bomb they had laid beneath history, wiped their hands daintily, and walked away...[...].. 
Happy Independence Day." in your dreams Yankee rabble, in your dreams. 

As Australia 1776 Nation USA is the strife magnet still today, such as Australia's 1788 began in peace and to day self Rules in Peach to such an extent our people by referenda still choose the same Queen of Australia ads UK, Canada and several others choose for a peaceful family. USA remains the bad excommunicated brother a sinner or World evil as bad as the worst this World has ever endured. 
Yes "Happy Independence day" Yankee Warmongers, you will fail I assure you. Bye now!
 
 
+1 # HerbR 2014-07-04 20:14
Keep talking !!!
 
 
+7 # EmilyCragg 2014-07-04 20:45
Today there is nothing left to celebrate: corruption is TOTAL, and there is no legal way or means to alter the course of leadership, wrong-headed and bent on destroying this nation as they are, have been and do.
 

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