Disenfranchised Citizen

Chicago Photography, New Orleans Stories and Everywhere Politics…

My State of the Union…

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My fellow Americans…

I come before you today to say that the era of rationality is dead.

What do I mean?

Simple…

Being rational has led to hundreds of thousands of foreclosed homes. Being rational has led to the hyper-inflated salary of CEO’s such as Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America. Being rational has led to crumbling infrastructures, the failings of the levees in New Orleans and the abandonment of Charity Hospital in favor of a huge medical complex that takes even more of your money and destroys a residential neighborhood. Being rational has led to the privatization of water supplies, the destruction of health care, your schools and local business. Being rational has led to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Politicians, they love when the American public is rational, so does Wall Street, the insurance companies, and your local police department.

Let me give you an example…

In San Francisco a number of years back, on the anniversary of one of those wars, there was quite the large to-do. Thousands of citizens engaged in a march and rally against the war. The organizing groups applied for the proper permits, stated the appropriate times when it would begin and when it would end. The San Francisco Police Department ushered the crowd along, down Market Street on the pre-planned parade route from the Embarcadero Plaza to the Civic Center in front of City Hall where music was played, vendors sold food and you could even buy the T-shirt to say you were there…

It was entirely rational and everybody was happy, festive, engaged and…nothing.

Nothing happened, a bit of television coverage, and nothing else.

The wars went on, the people went out to dinner, to the bars, home to try to see themselves on television that night.

But here’s a different kind of example…

In Chicago a couple of years back, at Republic Windows and Doors, this factory was set to close down. The employees were all issued their walking papers, they were told to leave, they were given nothing…and they went nowhere. They occupied the factory, they said they weren’t leaving, not until their demands were met, demands that included severance pay, health care…options. The community of Chicago rallied behind them, brought them food, made a spectacle and five days later each employee walked out with severance pay and extended health care.

Those employees were not being rational.

Another example…

Couple of years ago during a May-day parade, again in the city of San Francisco…there was a hidden group amongst the marchers heading down Market Street and they had a plan. They told nobody about their plan. They didn’t ask for permission. They didn’t apply for permits. At the right time, and the right place, while the SFPD were occupied elsewhere, they stole into the business district, took advantage of the street layout, blocked traffic by rolling dumpsters into the street and began smashing the windows of the GAP, Urban Outfitters, Pottery Barn and several others. They then dashed back to the downtown alleyways, changed back into street clothes and walked away. The news media was all over it. It was a story for days. People talked about it at home, at work, both negative and positive. None of the activists were ever caught, and over time they have become legends inspiring hundreds of other people into active participation, either other activists or the hundreds of tourists who watched their movements and went back home, across the country and perchance, dared to ask why it happened?

These people were not being rational.

So, rationality or irrationality…which methods make the difference?

Well, was Ghandi being rational? How about Martin Luther King or Malcolm X? How about our founding fathers, were they being rational? How about the union members and activists in Seattle who shut down the meetings of the World Bank, were they being rational?

When those thousands of people marching in protest to war in San Francisco those years back, what if they had suddenly turned right and headed off the pre-planned parade route, would that have been rational? What if they had not stopped at the lawn before City Hall, what if they had gone straight through the door and occupied City Hall, would that have been rational?

Nope, but it would have been more interesting, inspiring and done more for people and their belief in their own power than just buying a t-shirt and having a story to tell…a boring story.

These are not rational times, and they are not rational times because the American people have been cowed into rationality by economic and terrorist fear, fear for their families, their homes, that last bit of the American Dream that Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, that James Gorman, CEO of Morgan Stanley have so far been unable to take away from you…oh, but they’re trying and yes, they are winning… for in the White House, in the Commerce Department and in the Federal Treasury sit their co-workers and former employees, all busy at work trying to find a way to help them do it, to you, right now.

You didn’t vote for them. No, you voted for change, for the Audacity of Hope and what did you get?

You got proposed austerity cuts and tax cuts for the wealthy. You got the state of Arizona denying life saving medical procedures to people who have since died. And why did they die? Because they couldn’t afford the required medical procedure to live.

So how about you…can you afford to live?

Can you afford to be irrational?

What does being irrational even mean?

What does it mean to me, a disenfranchised citizen, now…today?

That doesn’t matter. What does matter is, what does irrationality mean to you? And in coming up with a definition, what can you dream up, alone, in your communities, in your families…and then what will you do about it?

Because the people of rational belief…oh yeah, they’re doing it, twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week, even as you read this, while none of the powers that be are doing much, if anything to stop them. America is a fire sale and every last one of you, every last one of your kids is on display, on the shelf, discounted, and the rational are greedy and they are buying wholesale in the store that don’t close, ever.

Not unless you close it down, irrationally.

Dream it up, and do it…we’re left with little choice because the rational, both democrats and republicans have set the social contract on fire and the only thing that can put out the flames are you.

God bless, America and…

Have a nice day.

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