by Joe Scarry
There’s no time like the present — i.e. as the US stares down the throat of a possible Trump presidency — to tee up an electoral thought experiment.
Now I understand antiwar people have totally lost faith in the electoral process. It’s okay! So has everyone else!!
But this post is directed at a time in the not-to-distant future when there is a national awakening. (Think: David Byrne singing “My God! What have I done?”) I’m thinking about a time when a lot of people actually start to think about how they can have an impact about what this country is and does.
So here’s the thing: we all know that elections ultimately come down to the small number of uncommitted voters, especially in swing states. Anyone who wants to succeed devotes a lot of attention to what it will take to win over those voters, in those places.
|Swing States 2016
(Source: UVA Center for Politics)
Now, consider a possible situation: any candidate who wants to win over those voters, in those places, will have to contend with a bunch of people who have been thinking a lot about how not to have war. What would happen if the antiwar movement zeroed in on that as a goal?
In other words, put aside for the time being the goal of turning every person in the country into an antiwar activist. In fact, put aside for the moment all of our accepted ideas about what it means to be “antiwar.” (And for sure forget about the idea that “antiwar” people look the same everywhere!)
Instead, just focus on this question: if we made a concerted effort, over a reasonable period of time, in a few select places, and paid attention to local circumstances, could we influence a bunch of people in those places to think a lot about how not to have war?
What might be different if that happened?
It will be the 2016 presidential election that will provide the main form of entertainment and distraction to the U.S. populace between now an the end of next year. An enormous amount of political fluff will fill our lives — pushing aside, I suppose, vast amounts of sports fluff and shopping fluff and celebrity fluff and — well, you get the point.
The decision about whether to live with the threat of nuclear annihilation is our decision. And that is why the entire country is mobilizing for mass action for nuclear disarmament in 2015. Are we capable of making sure the messengers — Obama, Putin, the other agents of government — hear their instructions from us clearly?
Yesterday, as all the other senators sat patiently through the obfuscation of Barack Obama’s Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse — Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey — Rand Paul gave ’em hell.
“Stand up for us and say you’re going to obey the Constitution and if we vote you down — which is unlikely, by the way — you would go with what the people say through their Congress and you wouldn’t go forward with a war that your Congress votes against.”