I appeared on Burt Cohen's radio broadcast on Wednesday and we had the kind of in-depth talk about politics and meaning that feels all too rare nowadays. The invitation came after I wrote "The New War of Independence - Against Corporate Politics," so that frames the overall discussion.
Most of the clips are between two and three minutes in length. The final two are closest to my heart, I suppose, although I enjoyed each part of the conversation. (And you may notice that I was struggling with a nasty flu.)
The first clip talks a lot about the 18th Century, contrasting the challenges of identifying and fighting for independence then with those that confront us now, and raises questions: independence from what? What do we need to declare our independence from, and how would that be done?
(1 min, 58 secs)
What would the Founders think of today's Tea Party? They believed in the common good. They developed an early kind of "national health insurance," for example, and were opposed to the multinationals of their day.
(2 mins, 28 secs)
Today the marginalized "Left" often speaks for most Republicans, and almost always speaks for most Americans, according to the polls. So what "outside power" is holding us back?
(2 mins, 15 secs)
We can't just define ourselves by what we're against. What are we fighting for? Can we motivate ourselves to write letters, make phone calls, and not surrender to hopelessness?
(2 mins, 20 secs)
Here we discuss a pretty inconvenient and uncomfortable idea - that no politician or political party can do what needs to be done, and that the last several years have been pretty discouraging to a lot of people:
(2 mins, 17 secs)
But unlike their opponents, the President and other Democrats can be influenced by citizen action.
(1 min, 48 secs)
Don't we need to declare our independence from the need for heroes? "XFK" is a symbol of our yearning for the next JFK or RFK, that politician "X" who might heal the trauma of assassination and restore a broken thread of leadership. That dream isn't serving us well anymore.
(2 mins, 29 secs)
The last one is my response a recent piece by Chris Hedges which argued that democracy is dead and the corporations have already won. Historical experience telsl us that despair is a form of blindness -- and that even if Hedges were 90% likely to be right, that we would need to make a "Pascal's Wager" with the future. Pascal said he doubted the existence of God, but was going to act with belief just in case he was wrong.
What if Chris Hedges is wrong? Even if that's a long shot - and I don't think it is - shouldn't we take that bet?
(Warning: Editing audio, like any act of editing, can always potentially change the context and so in some sense also change the meaning of what was said. I don't think that's the case here but will err on the side of caution by offering that word of caution.)