Many Americans today are afraid to discuss politics, because they think any such words will result in a shouting match like they see on cable TV news. Sensible Americans are hysteria-averse and choose to steer clear of any situation that might result in personal confrontation. As long as we equate discourse with confrontation, we unwittingly contribute to the dampening of our democracy and make it easier for minority interests to rule.
How did this happen? Weren’t we once able to talk to our neighbors about politics? Did all the negative sound bites we hear today originate at backyard neighborhood cookouts? At the workplace? Churches?
No, the venomous rhetoric we hear today comes from interests that WANT an apathetic electorate. When we respond to the vitriol by withdrawing, we are being played like fiddles. This “Apathy Lobby,” as we call it, is well financed and now in high gear after the scare it got in 2008. They have worked hard to turn “Yes we can” into “no freaking way.” “They,” by the way, are The Elite 2% who control the electoral process, the legislative process, trade laws, energy policy, the Supreme Court and a host of other things. This Elite 2% is skillfully playing the other 98% of us against one another, and by doing so is alienating the majority of Americans from their own democracy. When “civic participation ” is portrayed as an ugly, fact-free contest to see who can be the most hysterical and the angriest, it’s no wonder that most Americans back away.
As Coffee Partiers, we know that there is another kind of civic participation. It’s based on values and facts and is solutions-oriented. No matter how weary they are, people will join thoughtful, deliberate efforts of good faith. It has never mattered if the goal was “impossible.” Consider the suffragist movement that culminated in the 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote — an effort started by people who had no cause to believe they would ever succeed. It happened in the 1960s in the civil rights movement with a leader who espoused inspiration instead of inflammation. It happened in 2000 in Duluth, Minnesota when that town boasted a 91% voter turnout. It happened in 2008 in a movement that was not about one man, but about millions of people reaching for a common goal. Achieving the “impossible” is in our DNA as Americans. Especially when we’re provoked.
As Coffee Partiers, we must remind Americans that there is such a thing as The People’s interest. This is NOT something determined by the marketplace, as some of today’s confused talking heads would have us believe. In striving toward this goal, we choose to avoid confrontation with the shouting heads of political entertainment who use fear and misinformation to keep their followers inflamed. Instead, our target is the Entitled 2% who pay for their airtime, advertising, and the circus-like spectacles that power the Apathy Lobby. Our weapon is knowledge — we know their tactics and will call them out and encourage our friends to do the same. When the American people see that their apathy is a result of a deliberate campaign, they will rise in defiance.
Tell your friends NOT to hand over our democracy to the Elite 2%. We expect our elected officials to be immune from the corrosive effects of the Special Interest Lobby, so we must ourselves be immune from the corrosive effects of the Apathy Lobby.
As Coffee Partiers, there is no greater reward for us than knowing we are causing Americans to retake the power that has always been theirs. Let’s celebrate National Citizenship Day with a renewed pledge to defy the Apathy Lobby.