Today is a busy day at One Downflaw Plaza. Andy is moving to a new city, Sarah is opening a show and Zac is working off whatever the non-alcoholic equivalent of a hangover is from his birthday celebration last night. So in the interest of still publishing something today without resorting to the capricious whims of Robo-jackass, I present to you an essay I wrote on the old blog I used to keep, which I see as a sort of proto-Fatal Downflaw. It was written in 2009 so some of the references are somewhat out of date, but I think the message is still as valid now as it was then. Enjoy!
…or, you know, don’t enjoy. Whatever. I don’t care, I’m busy.
Five Simple Rules For Bringing Down The Man
“I’m here to laugh, love, fuck and drink likker. And help the damned revolution come quicker!”
- The Coup, “Laugh/Love/Fuck”
Let’s face it: the great uprising isn’t going to happen any time soon. Most of us don’t even want it. Though I thrill to the idea of millions of angry Americans flooding the streets, burning down hedge fund offices and health insurance corporations, taking over government buildings and fucking working it out for themselves, I have little to no faith that it will ever happen. And frankly, if it did, I’m reasonably sure we’d find a way to fuck it up for ourselves anyway. As every riot ever in history has proven, you can’t get a group of angry (or, alternately, elated) people together without someone doing something stupid. It’s human nature.
But here’s the good news: we can still make things better. It’s not even that hard, really. And it’s mostly legal! The short version is this – we make it better for ourselves and each other, and then all those pricks running the show will either have to adapt to our new way of life or get the hell out of the way. Remember, we outnumber them. And they’re mostly wrinkly old white men, and if we collectively can’t knock down a bunch of wrinkly old white men then maybe we ought to radically rethink our lives.
So below are my five simple rules for bringing down the man. I have eliminated anything that involves molotov cocktails, larceny or open rebellion. That’s for another day. What I’m advocating is simply small things we can do to institute change, since so far that whole “Vote for change” thing isn’t working out so great for us.
1. Socialism starts at home.
Fox News informs me that we’ve elected a socialist president! That’s great news, right? Soon we’ll all be enjoying universal healthcare, free university education and high quality BBC-grade television! We’re saved!
Not so fast there, comrade! Did you know that six of the senators on the commission to reform healthcare have personal, business or family ties to the healthcare industry? Oh noes! The system, it does nothing! What can we do?! Simple: do it yourself, slack-ass.
First, go outside. This is the hard part for most of us, myself included. Rock Band and The Soup are powerful opiates, plus there’s a sun out there, and it burns my skin. Clearly that wouldn’t be the case if we were meant to go outdoors. But, see, the problem is that there is a clear limit to what we can accomplish sitting around in the dark on the internet. Yes, captain hypocrite, I know. I do. Here’s the thing, though: it’s stupidly easy to make someone else’s life a little better. Give an hour at a public garden. Work in a soup kitchen. Hell, I’ll make it even easier: have a thoughtful discussion with someone about your political opinions. You have opinions, right? Tell someone else about them in concise, well-informed terms, then listen to what they have to say in response. In this age of talking points and political anylists we don’t listen to each other anymore, and that is sickening. Sometimes that douchebag who you argue with all day long has a valid point. Sometimes.
Here’s another radical idea, one we learned as toddlers and subsequently forgot as we grew up and joined the work-force: share. Seriously, just share something with someone else. I’m not talking about tithing half your salary, or spreading the wealth (though of course I’m not opposed to either of those options), I’m talking about sharing. If it’s raining, offer to let someone under your umbrella. If you have an extra sandwich in your lunch give it to someone, you fat fuck! Sharing is so ridiculously easy, and it doesn’t even have to cost you a penny. And, most importantly, it makes someone else’s life better. That’s what we’re all about, right?
2. Tiny acts of rebellion are crucial, as long as they’re correctly intentioned.
This is a longstanding pet peeve of mine, and one that I have mentioned before in these essays. Any halfwit teenager will be more than willing to walk out of a classroom to protest anything, whether they believe in what they’re protesting or not. This, in my mind, does not constitute a protest. If you want to make a point, make it on your own time! Not only does it eliminate the possibility of diluting your message by giving it the benefit of not having to go to work, but it is far more meaningful, and people respond better to it. Nobody ever talks about the guy who distributed clothes to the needy when he was supposed to be at work; they talk about the guy who distributed clothes to the needy on his lunch break.
Now this isn’t meant to imply that standing up and walking out of work isn’t a powerful tool – it is, as long as it’s for the right reason. Here’s a simple test: does what you’re trying to draw attention to have anything to do with your job? If the answer is no, then do it on your own time. If the answer is yes, then by all means do it at work. But make sure you’re fighting the good fight – walking out in support of replacing the Twinkies in the vending machine with Zingers is not the good fight. Pick your battles. Bring your own goddamned Zingers from home.
3. Never be ashamed of your beliefs. Unless they’re stupid.
Ever notice how bigoted, ignorant cousin-fuckers have no compunction about spouting their view of things loudly in public, at every possible opportunity? How come those of us who are somewhat better informed and more open-minded keep our mouths shut? Now, I’m not saying you should necessarily confront Jimmy Bob when he starts screaming at the bar about how the goddamned beaners are ruining this be-yutiful nation of ours – he’s probably ten PBRs down and aching for a fight. But why aren’t we as loud, obnoxious and pervasive as they are? Is it because we’re just too polite to express our opinions, or is it because we’ve been browbeaten for the last decade or so into believing that intelligence and liberal-mindedness are something to be ashamed of? Actually, I think it’s a healthy mix of the two.
I propose we change both of these circumstances. Admittedly, the label “liberal” has lost some of the vitriol it used to carry in this Obamatized world we now inhabit, but the politically conservative (and infinitely loud-mouthed) have decided now to equate “liberal” with “socialist”. Read a fucking dictionary, Bill O’Riley, these terms are not the same. I feel at this point it is only fair to offer full disclosure of the fact that I consider myself a socialist. I’d love it if we had a big government beurocracy running everything and making sure everyone got what they needed to survive. Hell, I’d go move to Sweden today if it wasn’t for all that snow and their ridiculous language. However, I understand that there are lots of liberals out there who aren’t socialists, and don’t necessarily want that label applied to them, especially not erroneously and double-especially not by some shit-for-brains redneck who wouldn’t know actual socialism if it ran up and gave him an unemployment check. Oops, there I go again. So the next time someone in earshot laments how this country is turning into a commie pinko paradise, politely point out the difference between socialism and liberalism, ask them if they hate socialism so much that they’d be willing to take their granny off of Social Security, and walk away. We don’t need to take this shit anymore.
As far as politeness goes, I am hereby declaring a moratorium on the soft-spoken, polite lefty. The only reason the Fox News crowd is getting their voices heard more than us is because they talk louder. Guess what – I CAN TALK LOUD TOO! I can fucking shout all day long about what’s wrong with this country, and it has nothing to do with illegal immigrants, homos getting married or our new dark-skinned president. It has everything to do with the potent combination of greedy, powerful old white people and ass-backward ignorant pigfucks of all races colluding to keep us stagnating in the pool of filth we’ve accumulated over the last 233 years. I’m sick of being polite about it, and I fully intend to be as outspoken and angry as any of those douchebag talking heads, except I’m going to have logic, intelligence and research on my side. And goddamnit, if the world’s not listening now they will be soon.
4. As much as I hate to quote Journey, “Don’t stop believin’!” Ugh…a little piece of my soul just died.
The problem with those of us who want change is we get discouraged far too easily. I personally am guilty of losing all hope in democracy and crying out for a return to monarchy. But that’s just what The Man wants us to do! Every time we try and fail, The Man wants us to go back home, affix ourselves to our couches with Taco Bell in one hand and a Natural Light 20-ounce in the other, and watch Rock of Love until our brains leak out our ears. If you do that, the bad guys win. (Nothing against Taco Bell, by the way…that shit is delicious!)
Here’s how we beat them: learn from our mistakes. Why isn’t gay marriage legal in all fifty states right now? Where did our strategy fail? Is it just the Mormons, or did we fuck something up along the way too? (Hint: we fucked a lot of things up, but that’s a whole different essay.) Great, so now that we’re looking at why we failed the first time, we’ll do more things right the second time. It’s not enough to grumble “well, we tried” and slink back to our coffee shops and cheese tastings. We have to keep believing that what we’re doing is right, that it’s important, and that eventually we’ll succeed. I mean, we did wonders with that whole Civil Rights thing, didn’t we? You can be damned sure that didn’t just fall into place because it benefited some rich, wrinkly white guy. The lesson: keep trying. At the very least it’ll get you away from reality television for a while, and that certainly can’t be bad for you.
5. Fucking vote, for christ’s sake!
You’re pissed off at your government. We all are. We’re in about a zillion different wars in the Middle East, the whole world economy’s in the shitter, billionaires are still making money hand over fist even while their companies are tanking and hemorraging jobs, and we still don’t have our goddamned jetpacks. The system is a fetid, stinking mess and every single one of us knows it.
So did you vote in the last election?
No? Well fuck you then.
“Oh,” I hear you whine, “but voting does no good. It’s always the lesser of two evils.” Maybe so, but it’s still less fucking evil! Unless you’re Dick Chaney or Anton LaVey, less evil is good. And sometimes there’s even a viable human being running for office who deserves your support. And at the very least, if we collectively voted we could rid the government of the entrenched jackholes who keep getting us into these messes in the first place.
The key, of course, is informed voting, something that has died a sloppy death in the United States in the last twenty years. No, getting advice from CNN, Fox News or your local political party’s constant, irritating emails does not count as informed voting. Every single one of those sources is biased, some more insidiously than others. NPR, as much as I love it, has its own bias too. Even the revered BBC is not without its faults.
So where do you go for informed political advice? There are lots of places. The League of Women Voters has always been impartial, unbiassed, and hugely informative. They used to put out a paper before every election detailing all the candidates and all the issues on the ballot, giving both pro and con arguments for each and rebuttals. I don’t know if they still do this or not, but their website is still a font of useful information. You can also go to factcheck.org to get the real story on all the trumped-up headlines you have screamed at you all day long. Alternately, things like voting records and public opinion papers are a matter of public record – if you want to know what a candidate truly thinks, go to the fucking library. It’s that big building downtown with all the books inside and all the vagrants outside. It’s full of useful information. It also has DVDs to rent!
And if you’re truly disgusted, run yourself. Upper government officials get great benefits.