From Bill Sell

OffRamp: We Need to Talk

Published in the Bay View Compass, November 2004

If you hear these four words your love life is about to crash. The elections are over. And Americans need to talk.

We failed each other when we forgot a principle: democracy talking requires listeners. Listeners go AWOL at the flapping of jaws. And slogans - those nouns spoken ritually and loudly as if to the hard of hearing (Big Gov-ern-ment, Dou-ble Lat-te El-i-tist). And anger. Oh, anger! Everyone is angry; the pathetic angry are those who believe only they are angry; only they in the vast angry world have been wronged. Really(!) wronged. Sorry, but you need to connect your issue with me for me to connect with you. And, “Values” - that political backhoe digging long defensive trenches about “my” moral worth. (yawn) When you hear that word “values” watch where you put your feet. The “family values” gang nearly walked Wisconsin over a cliff. I ask, where was the crying need for hand guns in day-care centers?

Bush and Kerry are no guides; they did not even talk to each other, but about each other as if the other person is not even in the room. How rude is that?

Leave the slogans behind, we need to talk, over the fence, on the sidewalk, from the first Wednesday in November. I met with friends that night to lament the large vote in support of new Bible wars and the reports of 100,000 Iraqis now slain for Yahweh. Will the violence force us to read the sacred texts (Judges 15:15–18) and discern the fury that steers our military might? Did the jawbone of an ass ever do so much damage?

Frankly, I feel personally frozen out. The President signaled his base that he takes advice from an “almighty” god who directs him. I have read the Bible and it is full of gods, both loving and vengeful. Ezekiel’s god is an unholy terrorist who uses warfare to kill “old men, young men, virgins, children, women” who were caught burning incense in front of another god. Now, is this American? Do we send the name of his god to the Senate for confirmation?

While the parties fight over values and which god “in whom we trust,” Bay View bubbles with meetings, crime fighting, local economic development. The Compass has taken baby steps into the world of democratic publishing. The Bay View Neighborhood Association, six active committees, block watches, the Bash, social events - before they have by-laws and officers. Bay View has its own email list service from which the BVNA was hatched, and two web sites. Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative is coming here because its “53207″ members talked them into it.

Talk - we always carry it with us. Audience distant? Use the keyboard. Bay View is discovering talk’s charm and power. Neighbors visit over email. Talk levels the playing field because we each get only one mouth, single pairs of hands and eyes. The United States governs itself with a Constitution and laws that arose, like BVNA, out of people talking.

Those devoted to keeping the Constitution as our founding fathers intended it, may want to consider if money has now become a constitutionally protected form of speech? With the face of a dead president, can money talk? If so what does it say? If money is now a fellow citizen, would it not be simpler to let money alter or abolish our government, turn the whole messy business over to businessmen (like yours truly). Sure, the Declaration of Independence says “… it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish its government…”? But maybe it’s time to put that troublesome old document to rest and just purchase our life, liberty, and happiness.

Watch Iraq to see this experiment unfold. There, (as in America) big government is despised by the occupation. Americans have laid off of thousands of Iraqi government workers, soldiers, and police. This reduces the Iraqi government (feeding the ranks of the insurgents), while private corporations invest in oil, water, schools, and electricity. Maybe the concept will work here in America. And then, the more money you have the more you are “worth.” Politics can be a thing of the past. Oligarchies are governed (oh so efficiently) by “elected” officials after Money carves up its fiefdoms. And we don’t have to talk, just shop.

But democracy is not capitalism; and our nation is more than a cash register. The vote belongs to the voter, the single voice with single pairs of hands, eyes, and ears, and a heart beating. The blood-roiling American is the voter. It is the voter who respects life. The dollar is pleased with construction or destruction, new babies or airplane crashes. The harder it works, the stronger it is, indifferent to our tears.

For now, I would say that the bucks have it, but let’s expose money for the fraud it is, and see what we can do for our children.

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