I remember a friend of mine in high school told me about an ill-fated time when he and his buddies went to drop acid, for some reason, at Northbook Court, the popular nearby shopping mall. As the acid came on, what started out as a goofy expedition began to induce anxiety and paranoia. They retreated from their plan and headed home. But that required driving, at rush hour.
Tripping on Democracy
When it’s hard to focus
And so they sat in gridlock on the Dan Ryan in suburban Chicago. Now they were peaking. Now it was really, really hard to focus, to be comfortable with all the cars surrounding them, to be trapped with nowhere to go.
So they focused. They were only allowed to talk about traffic and the car. While their minds were expanding into other dimensions, they kept verbally acknowledging the car they were in, the other cars in traffic, that they were driving home, and avoiding a tangent desperately.
That’s kind of how I feel like now discussing democracy. There are a lot of things going on that make it easy to get distracted. We have a white supremacist in the White House shutting out U.S. intelligence agencies to curry favor with the president of Russia. I don’t know if any amount of hallucinogenics would have made this ever seem possible.
But we need to focus. We need to keep going forward, if at a crawl. Democracy is our vehicle and we have to keep it in shape. We need to focus on voter empowerment, such as HB1, the “For the People” Act. We need to fight gerrymandering. We need to fight voter ID laws. We need to rally behind politicians who seek to protect the public interest instead of donors’ interests. We need to call out bad actors, if they are politicians, journalists, or bot accounts.
It’s really hard to focus right now. But if we do, we’ll make it home safe.