Curing Political Apathy with More Independence
by Ak'Bar A. Shabazz (bio)
Years ago, some conservatives rebelled against the establishment's support of big government, large deficits and spending levels that would make even the most intoxicated midshipman blush.
Out of this rebellion, the Tea Party movement was born.
Many Tea Party heroes were born. Thousands of angry Americans packed parks and town halls across the nation to vent their frustration with soaring spending levels and draconian domestic policies they believed encroached on their liberties. The national media consistently bent over backwards looking for the Tea Party's response to the issues of the day. Candidates professing Tea Party values ended up being elected to office.
Fast forward to today. The Tea Party movement seems to be toast. Done. Over. The large, angry crowds have disappeared.
Town hall meetings once again appear exclusive to the AARP crowd. Condemnations of astronomical spending are now less than deafening. Tea Party lawmakers who rode the wave of rebellion to national prominence are aligned behind the establishment candidate. Troublemakers appear to have been silenced.
On the other side of the political spectrum, liberals wield power with more authority. They made sure a similar revolt never happened. Irrespective of the popularity of the President, they are vigilant to make sure the herd never strays far from home. Liberal media ensures stories are properly sanitized, while blockbuster scandals tainting the Obama Administration such as "Operation Fast and Furious" go largely unreported.
The young, articulate political outsider who won in 2008 has become the chief promoter of the status quo. What was once sold as "change we can believe in" morphed into the excuse of "change is hard, and change is slow."
The guy who promoted himself as a constitutional professor now says he can kill Americans without charge, trial or judicial review. Liberals who organized countless anti-war protests against the old establishment are eerily silent as the new establishment uses drones to bomb and kill people in countries never considered hostile to American interests. Obama hasn't made the world any safer — quite the opposite has occurred. We now seem closer to World War III than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Bring these inconsistencies up among rank-and-file liberals, however, and one will be consciously and willfully ignored. Conservative anger about spending levels is as muted as the anti-war voice on the left. It's not acceptable to criticize party leaders for straying from principles. It is much more agreeable to blindly nod and applaud.
Citizens frustrated with these shenanigans may question the effectiveness of participating in the political process. The influx of money, corporate influence and political apathy seems to have done more to tear down our political system than any terrorist attack.
Is there a solution to America's political malaise? It doesn't seem politicians affiliated with parties are cutting it.
Candidates without the blessing of establishment elites may inspire voters and bring more people into the world of politics. Their naïve exuberance, however, may succumb to apathy or willful ignorance that can consume even the best-intentioned of men.
It may be that the only real solution to dislodge the establishment elites is a strong independent voice to buck the current status quo. Our nation needs people to challenge the compromised media's selective whitewashing of inconvenient stories, ignore polls and focus on the American people and their needs.
There are sad lessons from both the Tea Party and the anti-war movements. Are Americans mere apathetic sheep to be led by political whims? Or are we the sons and daughters of those who worked tirelessly for liberty? Will our legacy be one of political corruption or resistance to the cancerous corporatism that has plagued the last decade?
The rest of the story is yet to be written. But surely it must be penned by all of its the citizens and not merely by the elites.
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Ak'Bar A. Shabazz is a member of the national advisory council for the Project 21 black leadership network and president of Shabazz Enterprises. Comments may be sent to akbar@akbarsha[email protected].
Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints
permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.
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