So I’ve been passing around the meme I stole from someone’s sigline at The Daily Kos, “G.O.P. = Grope Our Pages,” and have been astounded at how few people get the joke at first, here in a fairly liberal part of New York (Rockland County). Today, I mentioned to a couple of friendly bank tellers that I was going to make a big lawn sign telling people to vote Republican (“Vote for Torture, Kidnappings, and Corruption!”). They both looked at me completely blank-faced. They had no idea what I was talking about.
It gets worse. This last weekend I was speaking at the Greater Pittsburgh Pagan Pride Day celebration. My topic was listed in the program as “Pagans and Politics,” so I expected that a crowd of 150+ members of a minority belief community would be politically aware…
To my astonishment, while everybody there got the joke about Dennis Hastert being the santorum on the rear of the Republican Party (“santorum” has become an obscene noun in Philadelphia, thanks to some clever memetic engineering), hardly anyone there had heard about the recently passed Disappearances and Torture Authorization Act. They had no idea that it was now legal for the Secret Police to kidnap them, move them to a secret prison camp, torture them until they confess, give them a secret trial in which they would have no right to see the evidence or confront the witnesses against them, and execute them.
I asked this crowd of Wiccans, Druids, Goddess Worshippers, Native Religionists, Buddhists, Hindus, and others to imagine that power in the hands of President Pat Robertson or Vice President Jerry Falwell. There was a roar of anger they probably heard in DC.
I was able to persuade the majority of the people there to start taking both spiritual and mundane action between now and November. I’m going to continue talking to my community online for the next four weeks, especiolly since there doesn’t seem to be a religious left in this part of the country, but it won’t be enough.
People who come here regularly, who read the NY Times or the Washington Post, or who watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are a tiny, tiny minority of the voting public. One of the tellers I spoke to today told me that she got all her political news from her roommate, who only reads the Wall Street Journal. She had no idea it wasn’t a reliable source of information.
Even if you live in a liberal part of the USA, don’t assume your neighbors know about the page scandal or the torture act. Don’t assume your grocery check out clerk knows that he/she won’t get a raise in the minimum wage unless Dems take over both houses. Don’t assume the guys at the VFW know how the Pentagon hasn’t provided our servicemembers with armor for their bodies or their vehicles, or how Bush’s friends at Halliburton have been screwing over the troops. Don’t assume everybody with brains and a college education knows how many of our civil rights have been erased by the Patriot Act. Don’t assume that members of racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities understand how hostile the Republican Party is to their personal lives and freedoms. Don’t even assume that the Republicans you meet have heard that Bush was recorded calling the Constitution “Just a goddamned piece of paper!”
Assume nothing. Explain everything. Over and over again until you are sick of the sound of your own voice. Explain at PTA meetings, at religious gatherings, at the supermarket, at the gas station, at your fraternal lodge, at every single public and private venue you go to for the next four weeks.
When you are here or at other liberal blogs, write down good jokes, clever memes, nasty quotes, and succinct explanations of Republican atrocities. Then memorize them and start the meme replication process by saying them repeatedly to everyone you meet. Take the risk of becoming a social pariah! For every person you really annoy, you will be educating a dozen others directly and indirectly.
And meme number one: “This is the most important election in American history, because it could very well be the last one.” And if people call you an alarmist, tell them, “I’d rather be paranoid than in a concentration camp.”
Then go “offend” more people!