My article of a few days ago -- If You Love Peace, Become a "Blue Republican" (Just for a Year) -- seems to have caused a stir.
Many people of independent, liberal or Democratic sensibilities voted for Obama in 2008 in the hope of jolting America toward civil liberties and away from war, only to find themselves in 2011 disappointed that we are still starting wars and doing nothing to re-instate some of our most basic civil and economic freedoms.
My article suggested "Blue Republicans" as a moniker for those people who, still wanting peace and their basic Constitutional rights, will register Republican to help ensure that Ron Paul gets his party's nomination.
Within a few hours of the article's being published, a Blue Republican Facebook group was born, and faster than anyone could say "liberty," a designer had donated a rather wonderful logo. By the end of the weekend, the group had about 2000 members, and the original article had been shared more than 11,000 times on Facebook.
Simply, Americans are at the beginning of a gestalt switch, which allows them to see something Noam Chomsky pointed out some time ago:
The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum -- even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.
And what are "the presuppositions of the system" -- those political realities ushered in and maintained by both Left and Right over the last few years? Here are a few.
- Wealth is systematically transferred from productive citizens to those who create money as debt and then charge interest on that debt.
- Individuals have no fundamental right to privacy: without legal process, a government employee may sign his own warrant and intrude upon any aspect of your life -- the books you have taken out from the library; the things you've looked at online, the calls you've made, the goods you've bought etc. He can even come into your house. (This is somewhat akin to the Stamp Act, which allowed British officials to enter American homes -- one of the triggers of the War of Independence.) The government may store arbitrary amounts of the data they collect.
- Individuals no longer have a right to contract with a private party to transport them to another part of the country without a government officer's permission, which will be granted only after an act that would otherwise be deemed an assault, and possibly a sexual assault, or after the provision of visual information about her body that she would not voluntarily show anyone with whom she was not intimately involved. A traveler will be separated from her property and members of her family when this act is conducted. (This could be likened to the situation in a Soviet country before the Iron Curtain came down.)
- Government officials direct significant fractions of the country's wealth to selected groups with whom they have been or are associated. (This is similar in effect, if not in intent, to the actions of many corrupt African regimes.)
- The government has the right to assassinate its own citizens. (This is akin to the old communist police states.)
- The government may mobilize American sons and daughters to attack those who do not threaten us -- now without authorization by our supposed representatives.
- The government has the right to know where you keep your wealth and what you do with it, even beyond the declaration of income for taxation purposes and even if you are not suspected of committing any crime.
- Most terrifying, telling the truth is sometimes a crime: if you are served a warrant under the Patriot Act, and you tell someone about it, you have committed a crime. (This is akin to nothing on earth, and is reminiscent only of George Orwell's novel, 1984.)
- Since many of the above are obviously unconstitutional, the ultimate legal protection of Americans' human rights is void when the government deems it so.
All of the above points concern basic civil rights, and the very identity of the nation.
In the light of these, many Americans are feeling that the country has gone too far down a slippery slope toward tyranny and have decided that urgent action must be taken.
Critically, they realize that our current two-party political paradigm is seriously bankrupt as it has brought us to this point. It's not that we got politically lazy; we did not: in fact, we've been as energetic as ever in opposing our political foes on our favorite political issues... Rather, we got too involved in the issues that defined our old political identities, and missed how the fundamentals were being changed around us.
As we were all having our "I'm right, you're wrong" Democratic and Republican arguments, the powers that be made themselves more powerful, and while we were arguing, we have lost most of the rights that we weren't arguing about because we took them for granted.
It is as if we have suddenly looked up from an argument at the kitchen table over which sofa we should buy for the living room, only to find out that the house has been foreclosed on and we're homeless. Sure, the issues we were arguing over were important -- but they were not the most important, nor are they now the most urgent.
As I have written elsewhere, America has been brought to its knees by a Left that has empowered the state and a Right that has subsidized big business. The nation has been disempowered by an axis between the apparatchiks of State that pass laws that concentrate wealth in the hands of the financial elite that funds them. Over the last century, the Left have tended to harp on about the corruption of corporate and financial interests, while the Right have tended to harp on about the corruption of State interests.
Meanwhile, corporate interests have made the State corrupt by financing it, and the State has made corporations corrupt through corporatist law-making. The net effect is that the State has concentrated power, and the corporations -- and in particular banks -- have concentrated wealth. The rest of us have paid for it in liberty and wealth, respectively.
In the face of what has already been lost, those Blue Republicans who are becoming Republicans to ensure a Ron Paul presidency are not abandoning their personal disagreements with Dr. Paul on particular issues, such as abortion (which is the one on which this writer most profoundly disagrees with him). Rather, they are trying to make sure that we still have a recognizable country in which you get to have an argument over abortion without having already given up your own personal liberty, property or knowledge that your country will only send your family members in uniform into battle out of necessity, and nothing but necessity.
Perhaps, then, the cause of the excitement about the "Blue Republican" idea is two-fold. First, the term has caught people's imaginations because it subverts the paradigm that brought us here. Second, the stakes are high. In fact, they are the very highest stakes of all.
Follow Robin Koerner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rkoerner