Off The Cuff: The New Frontier

For two days I have been writing about the concept of Revolution. I have mused on the general concept, and I have talked about what the first step in overhauling the current system has to be. If we are going to try for real change, however, we also have to agree upon what it is that needs changing and how we want it changed.

As I have stated previously, democracy is not a bad concept for a governing system, but it simply doesn’t work if the people stop having input into the system. The concepts sort of cancel each other out like that. So the real problem in this country, the problem underneath all the other problems, is that the people no longer have any real input. We can vote, but the election system is now so vulnerable that it cannot be trusted to supply a valid result. Even if it could, we live in a nation where the vote of the people can, and has been in the past, overridden by “more powerful” people in a system designed to keep those “in the know” able to direct our elections “for our best interests”. Even apart from that, we only have elections every couple of years, and that leaves a lot of time in between for our representatives to spin their more dubious actions in a better light. And even worse, most of their dubious actions happen behind closed doors, out of sight of the people, and are rarely reported.

If we are going to take back control of our country from the corporate interests currently running it, we need transparency. We need video and audio recordings of every single committee and conference meeting in which our government officials take part. We need to either outlaw federal lobbyists, or we need a set time and place where they can present their cases to our representatives (read: us), which must also be open and documented. Every person in the United States is not going to care about every issue, but each person must be able to follow all actions related to any issue they choose to investigate. All these recordings should be available to anyone seeking them.

All pending legislation must be made available online for all Americans to read, at least two days prior to it being voted into law. This legislation should be hyper-linked to any previous legislation which it references. All representatives must have a means for their constituents to send commentary on the legislation readily available, and staff whose job is to read the comments and convey them to the representative.

We must divest corporations of their illegitimate legal status as “people”, and begin holding them accountable to the actual people. Our media organizations must begin actually investigating the events happening in both our nation and others and reporting accurately and without bias. Our school systems must teach each child the actual structure of government, and must attempt to teach history and current events as accurately and broadly as possible. We the people must have the right to question everything, and must remember to do so.

If we can implement these few things, we can have our country back. Granted, it will be a long and arduous path getting there. We will have to fight like hell to make these things happen. But that, after all, is what a revolution is all about.

The Bad Guy Epidemic

There has been a slowly emerging trend in fiction over the last fifteen years or so. Replacing the simple goodness of protagonists such as King Arthur and the simpleminded goodness of heroines such as Snow White, we have a growing contingent of more complicated, morally ambiguous characters taking center stage in our stories. Dubious heroes such as Batman and John Constantine exist only to fight off worser evils (and often their “good deeds” are almost coincidental to their battles against their own, personal demons). The traditional antagonists of our childhood have taken on new shades of human character and societal misuse, as in the cases of the Wicked Witch of the West in Wicked or Morgan Le Fay in The Mists of Avalon. We have a bevy of new “bad guys” at center stage, some of them irresistible in spite of their villainy (Thomas Crown, for example, or Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects), and some without any attempt whatsoever to justify their actions through sympathetic moments or incidental benefits to humanity, as is the case with Robert Altman’s 1992 film The Player. Why, as a culture, are our stories evolving in such a way? What is the appeal in watching the bad guys win?

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