About 2 weeks ago, 10 Soviet-era tanks clanked-along the main thoroughfare in downtown Bangkok and stopped in front of the Presidential Palace. Once the palace had been completely surrounded it was stormed by a contingent of fully-armed Thai regulars who secured the grounds while the Thai generals looked on impassively. General Sonthi Tinsulanond took control of the country, with the tacit approval of the King, and quickly repealed the constitution, dismissed the parliament, and forbid any public demonstrations of support for the former regime. In less than an hour, the government of Prime Minister Thanskin Shinawatra was toppled in a perfectly executed, bloodless coup.
Are we there yet?
Would it really be that dreadful if a similar drama unfolded in Washington DC?
Imagine the Abrams tanks and Humvees trundling down Pennsylvania
Ave; knocking down the flimsy roadblocks and wrought-iron fencing, and
plopping down on the White House lawn waiting for a white flag to
emerge from a window in the Oval Office.
Would the American people really cry out in rage if the presidential team was â€œquick-steppedâ€ to an armored vehicle and rushed off to a secure location? Or, would they go about their business while taking a collective sigh of relief knowing that our long national nightmare had finally ended?
Whew! At least thatâ€™s over.
So far, the transition in Thailand has been surprisingly smooth due in large part to the fact that the former Prime Minister was widely reviled.
Dreaming of a coup dâ€™etat is an exercise in futility, but it does illustrate a point. America will not return to what it once was. That may sound pessimistic, but it is true none the less. The idea that democracy and civil liberties will be (miraculously) restored if the Democrats take the House and Senate is absurd. The Democrats have not promised to revoke the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, or withdraw the troops from Iraq. They are just as linked to the military-industrial, free trading, elite establishment as their Siamese twin, the GOP; albeit they put a better face on imperial stewardship.
The only path back to personal liberty and the rule of law is by organizing a nation-wide, labor-based movement that pits the interests of the average working slob against their corporate rulers. Eventually, the lefty web sites will lose their appeal unless they become a catalyst for politicizing the American public and offering a constructive course of action.
Sorry, thereâ€™s no quick fix. It took hundreds of years before the indigenous people in Bolivia pulled together, blocked the roads to the capital and shut the country down in a massive display of non-violent civil disobedience. The history of the American labor movement is a grim chronicle of the endless struggle against corporate plutocrats and establishment elites. It wonâ€™t be any easier this time.
The American middle class is being torn apart by the globalized economy and by Bushâ€™s plan to shift the nationâ€™s wealth to his well-healed buddies. We have a lot of catching up to do and we havenâ€™t even joined the fight yet. Many of us are still sitting on the sidelines, wringing our hands and hoping the Democrats will lead us back to the â€œland of milk and honeyâ€.
It ainâ€™t gonna happen.
Weâ€™re going to have to split the new wood for ourselves. Politicizing the public is a long, arduous and, yes, boring task. Itâ€™s particularly hard for a society that suffers from media-induced Attention Deficit Disorder (ADT) and who are unaccustomed to taking their lives in their own hands and shaping the future. Thatâ€™s what itâ€™s going to take.
Fortunately, we have the roadmap left to us by Jefferson, Franklin and Paine. It just needs a little dusting off. The Bushies can keep the lapel pins.
We have a mountain in front of us and it gets steeper every day Bush stays in office. Itâ€™s time to organize and take at least one step in a positive direction. No one is going to ride in on the back of an Abrams tank and pull our bacon out of the fire. Itâ€™s up to us.
I think we can do it.