I read a lot of different web sites, as I’m sure a lot of you do. I’m addicted to information, whether it agrees with my views or not, whether it’s important or not. Yes, tell me about the latest virus hoax spreading about the internet. Yes, tell me about legislation that I need to know about. Tell me about penile enhancement and Nigerian bank accounts and war and peace and not buying gas and that Tri Club meeting that Tim Deboom is speaking at. Don’t filter anything for me; I can filter for myself.

I read weblogs on the right and left and the middle; I read message boards that are occupied by people who aren’t aware of concepts like capitalization, punctuation, or good ol’ logic. I take this all in, I look at how patterns are replicated, how memes are propagated. I look to see where my friends have gone, what their hotels were like, and what airports have wireless access, even though the only wireless device I have is a Nokia 8290 that cost me twenty bucks at a swap meet. I need to know. Everything.

And I need to pass things on, too. I need to add my voice to the chorus, even if all I’m saying is, “Yeah, what he said.” I have my moments of being erudite ‘n’ shit, but, in this wondrous age of self-publishing, someone can always beat me to the punch. It’s up to me to say, “Me, too,” and pass it on. I think you guys like what I’ve had to say so far, whether it’s about bikes or romance or politics (though that last one can turn people off. God knows it did in autumn of 2000).

Today, I am passing this on to you, and I highly recommend you follow up with the Raimondo essay referenced in the first link.

Or read ’em in whatever order you like. You’re grownups, you can do what you like.

Please don’t misunderstand: I don’t like tyrants and bullies of any stripe. I know what an evil bastard Saddam Hussein is. I don’t need to tell you what totalitarianism has done to my family (though, maybe I do if I haven’t mentioned it already. Another time). Yes, we’re the most powerful nation on earth, and who’s to stop us from protecting ourselves?

No one but our own farsightedness.

I hate short-term solutions. I hate not taking the long view. It means laziness, and it means not looking at all the information. This war is a short-term solution. And any of the anti-war direct actions are also short-term solutions.

I wouldn’t have brought all this up if Ken hadn’t called me yesterday. We were just catching up, and he mentioned how his old housemate, Alex, wanted to rent a bus, drive to DC, and do…well, something. Anything. This surprised the hell out of me, because Alex is one of those hellaciously smart analytical types who doesn’t strike me as being prone to displays like that. Figuring out a way to monster fax Congress to remind ’em that their constituents think this whole affair is addle-headed: yes. Chaining himself to the vending machines at the Pentagon: no.

So, I say this to Alex, and everyone else: we’ve lost this round. We lost this round in 2000, when Florida went and unlawfully dumped people from the voter rolls who happened to live in precints that were tradtionally black and voted Democrat. We lost when Scalia went and pissed all over the right to vote. We lost when Jeb kept them off the rolls and got himself re-elected. We lost when Congress forgot that, oh, yeah, they had the power to declare war. And on and on and on. And we will continue to lose if the direct action gang do their thing. That frightened little man we call the Attorney General is just looking for an excuse to do away with the rest of the Constitution, and I won’t let them give him that excuse.

Do we keep marching and assembling peacefully? Oh, yeah.

Do we keep debating and arguing in the public forum? You betcha.

And do we start laying down the groundwork so that in 2004 we can vote these black-hearted bastards out of office, drag ’em to court for selling us out, then put ’em in the stocks so we can throw rotten vegetables and Volkswagons at them? You know it.

It’s that last one that’s the hardest. No one, including me, wants to do the boring work. We want the glory, we want the picture on the front page of the Times, we want the indie cred. We don’t want to make phone calls, convince people to vote, take the time to read those goddamned candidate statements and propositions. We don’t want to do the grunt work, but we have to. I have to.

There’s an entire nation out there who doesn’t know or doesn’t care or doesn’t think about what’s going on, and we need to tell them. We need to point out how they’re being ripped off. We need to point out that they’re being lied to. We need to help them wake up and realize that they’re more than they’ve been told. This is the darkness before the dawn. This is the long night before we wake up to enlightenment. But it’s only going to happen if we do the work, if we lay down the foundation, if we come up with an opposition and an alternate way to run the country and change the world. We need to undo the damage that’s been done over the past two or three decades, or else we’re screwed. Plain and simple.

We need to do the work, Alex. We need to give our system a chance to work. It’s slow, and it’s boring, and it doesn’t get us instant gratification, but it works. It’s the best we have until we can put our big brains to work and come up with one that’s even better. Right now, we have people to teach, and alliances to form. We have work to do. We need to stand up and yell and be heard. We need to add our voices to the echo chamber while we still have them.

And if it fails, if our country becomes a true police state, where our thoughts are monitored and suppressed, and where we’re arrested and put into some Alaskan gulag for holding up signs, and where’s there’s state-mandated religion, and freedom of expression is brutally crushed, then, Alex, I won’t just join you in the bus. I’ll be the one to drive.