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HOW DID ABORTION RIGHTS COME TO THIS?  — Carol Hanisch charts how the right to an abortion began to erode shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision; Uber vs. the Cabbies: Ben Terrall reports on the threats posed by private car services; Remembering August 1914: Binoy Kampmark on the enduring legacy of World War I; Medical Marijuana: a Personal Odyssey: Doug Valentine goes in search of medicinal pot and a good vaporizer; Nostalgia for Socialism: Lee Ballinger surveys the longing in eastern Europe for the material guarantees of socialism. PLUS: Paul Krassner on his Six Dumbest Decisions; Kristin Kolb on the Cancer Ward; Jeffrey St. Clair on the Making of the First Un-War; Chris Floyd on the Children of Lies and Mike Whitney on why the war on ISIS is really a war on Syria.
The Grassroots of Hope Ushering the Rusted Shield of Democracy

The Grassroots of Hope

by JOSH FRANK

Democracy has historically linked us to the essential tools needed for survival within diverse cultures and societies. An active citizenry in the United States is meant to protect us from government control and corporate excess. But those that speak up have been labeled as “fringe” and “naive.” Our ideas poisoned with the rationale that our worldviews are skewed by airy hopes and empty realities.

Dissent no longer is viewed as a necessary action in the world of like-minded capitalists. Our corporations influence on education, on the food we eat, the private water we will all one day drink, the dirty air we now breath, and the health care we don’t have; you’d think would wake dreamy Americans. But our corporate culture muddles these essential debates. News pundits rattle over minor differences. Children wash their brains in re-runs of Southpark and video games of war. Grown boys ejaculate over touchdowns and slam-dunks. And the rest simply don’t have the time or the energy, they are too busy fighting for their next meal.

Lack of voters in the United States comes less from uninterest than from the perception that one cannot make a difference. It is perceived that our politicians are so a-like that a vote can’t break the strangle hold monotony. It is more a lack of candidates with differences, than an ignorant populous, or what Chomsky would refer to as “the bewildered herd.” But see, that is where we all come in.

Our concerns over the direction of the world can’t be intrinsic qualities. Rather they must be branding tattoos that label us as humans with purpose, with ambitions for the betterment of life on earth. With pre-emptive war, toothless lawgivers, and corporate greed; democracy is left in the hands of the people. We are those people, the people with the power to make change. If you’ve ever felt alone in your thinking, you are not. Dissenting voices exist, and we aren’t anti-American, or unpatriotic either. In fact we are the epitome of democratic virtue.

As anarchistic and feminist Emma Goldman once wrote, “the most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought. That this should be so terribly apparent in a country whose symbol is democracy, is very significant of the tremendous power of the majority.” Our only protection from the majority now may be our rusted shield of democracy. But it is the only hope we have if we want future inhabitants of earth to enjoy the many qualities life still possesses. We must start at home; talk to our children, our parents, our colleagues and friends. We are the grass roots of hope, the only hope that still may be ushered.

JOSH FRANK lives in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached at: frank_joshua@hotmail.com