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Guest Opinion: The end of half-measures

Half-Measures: Sort of solving a problem, finding a kind of compromise that appears to address a problem but really doesn't fundamentally change the situation. Half-measures delayed nearly all reforms of democracy, i.e., civil rights, the vote fo...

Half-Measures: Sort of solving a problem, finding a kind of compromise that appears to address a problem but really doesn't fundamentally change the situation. Half-measures delayed nearly all reforms of democracy, i.e., civil rights, the vote for women, the end of slavery and workers rights.

With the exception of the New Deal, which came from the near collapse of the nation, all of the real changes took grassroots movements - the citizens of the country standing up and insisting on the change.

We are now at one of those points. We have a government that has been hijacked by the rich and powerful, by corporations and financial institutions that have hollowed out our economy with free trade pacts, squeezed nearly all of the money out of the middle class, devalued the workers and exploited the poor and disadvantaged. They have corrupted our national institutions, the media, the courts and the governance of the nation. They are in the process of taking over most of what used to be public.

In addition, we are faced by the potentially existential problem of climate change. We all know the phrase, "Don't mess with Mother Nature." Well, we act as though nature is simply something that can be negotiated with and that, perhaps, we can bully or intimidate it or simply talk it to death.

Well, our existence as a democratic nation and as inhabitants of this planet is at stake and we can no longer put up with the half-measures of avoidance and dithering. It is a real problem and our very existence is at stake.

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The reason things continue this way is that the status quo benefits those (almost always the rich and powerful) who thrive on things-as-they-are, those who have found ways to manipulate the system to their advantage and institutionalized those changes to provide themselves with predictability and security. So, the forces that are marshaled against change are usually well financed and powerful, both economically and politically. They have a vested interest in continuing with half-measures.

Remember, most positive fundamental change comes, not from within the belt-line of Washington but from the streets where ordinary people live.

There are times when the citizens rise up and take back real control of their democracy and, in no uncertain terms, remind those who have pretended the power was theirs that their power is really just an illusion and that the real power lies within the ordinary citizenry, harkening back to the beginnings of this nation and the taxation and representation thing.

There is always the assumption that with suits, a serious face and glib talk, any issue can be talked to death and any real solution postponed, perhaps forever, while the rich and powerful devise ways to profit from any change.

But the game has gotten far too serious and can no longer be viewed as a game. Their policies have led us into dead ends. They have failed us in every way that can be measured. Their leadership has utterly failed.

We must simply end that conversation and start afresh, finding new solutions using the old tools of democracy and logic and science outside of any overlay of party or ideology or economic theories.

How do we do this? One place to start is politically. We simply turn our backs on the recent direction of politics which has been money, money, money. We take back the Democratic Party, repurposing it to its origins representing the workers and ordinary citizens of this nation and giving voice to their concerns and, finally, finding real solutions that will lead to a sustainable democratic future for all the citizens.

We can become a focused force to simply outvote them at the polls. Some of the rich and powerful may want to join us, but they can only join us on our terms, being one among equals, supporting democracy with all that it means, paying taxes again and offering their resources to be used as the nation sees fit.

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We have tried half-measures and, as a result, have been nudged closer and closer to the precipice, some already falling over the edge. Meanwhile, the rich and powerful continue to obstruct any real change, and instead simply dither, shake their heads and wring their hands as though nothing can be done.

It is time to do something dramatic to change direction. Time is short. Our survival as a nation and as humans is at stake. Half-measures will not do. Now is the time for a powerful citizenry to remember their power and take it back.

BOB PASSI is retired and a resident of Baxter.

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