The Politics of Revolution
My first involvement with politics and the political process started in 1960 with the campaign of Vice President, Richard Nixon against a young senator from Massachusetts, John Kennedy. Even though I was just a young boy, I have vivid memories of those times. I remember spending hours at the local Democratic headquarters listening to the men talk about the issues and the ongoing campaign. I would always leave with my hands full of buttons and bumper stickers and my head full of ideas and optimism for the future. I can remember going door-to-door, armed only with my buttons, bumper stickers, and a smile. At that time, the Republicans had been exploiting the religious card against Kennedy. I can remember my first hostile encounter with a middle aged Protestant man who had been convinced by his church elders that a vote for Kennedy was really a vote for the Catholic Pope. It was my first encounter with Republican lies and misinformation. This attempt by the Republicans to rally millions of Protestants to vote against Kennedy because he was a Catholic was just a prelude to a future where lies and misinformation are standard operating procedure.
Since 1960, I have been involved with politics in America. Throughout those many years I have always remained optimistic about our democracy and our less that perfect political system. There were of course times when I disagreed with the policies of our country, but I always thought that change was possible and it was the responsibility of every American to participate in the political process. I have lately begun to lose the optimism that has carried me through these many years and I am beginning to feel that our government and our political process may have spun completely out of control. I am starting to think that we may be powerless to stop this deadly evolution of our government. Our options for change seem to be more limited with each passing day. What really scares me about these thoughts is that, if I am having them, there must be many other people in our country having the same thoughts? Political systems and governments survive only when the people have a means to make changes and redress grievances. What I fear most is a government that is so entrenched in power that all avenues for change are diminished or cut off. I fear a government that makes revolution the only vehicle left for change. And finally, I fear the people who might actually think revolution is their only option.