November 13, 2012 2 Comments

Today we often use the word extraordinary to refer to something amazing, something great.  The overwhelming re-election of the nation’s first Black President through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression is a truly extraordinary event.

The success of progressive ballot measures throughout the country as well as the election of women such as Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin, who is openly gay, to the boys club that is the US Senate.  On Wednesday, November 8 of 2012 we woke up to a series of electoral victories that would have been impossible to imagine just 20 years ago.  These are amazing and extraordinary.

Taken literally, extraordinary also means unusual, out of the ordinary, rare.  And here is where Roberto Mangabeira Unger comes to mind.

“Democracy can not be reduced to the extraordinary episode of the vote.”

The role of money in our system, the ridiculous game of the electoral college, debates that resemble kabuki theatre, the spectacle of “political” advertisement.  We can do better.  We must do better than national campaigns that pay scant attention to the poor, that barely mention climate change, and that try to outdo each other in terms of military “toughness.”

Look, I am absolutely thrilled by our electoral victories this fall.  I am even more thrilled by the narrative of a New America that leaves us with a Republican party at risk of obsolescence.  I am proud of the women, Latinos and other communities of color that finally chose to flex their electoral muscle.

But this is an electoral victory, not yet a democratic one.  Our freedom cannot be outsourced to representatives who are bound by a dysfunctional system and beholden to moneyed interests.  In fact, our freedom cannot be outsourced at all!

We cannot be represented.

We have successfully wielded electoral tactics to create conditions that are mildly more favorable than they would have otherwise been.

Now we turn to one another.

What is the good life?  What is the future that we want to live?  What are our principles for mutual aid?  How will we repossess the commons?  What is a just economy?  Will we allow our planet to burn?

Don’t rely on the elected.  We must do this ourselves.


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