In local politics, as well as national, we needs third party voices to be heard. Now more than ever.
November 3, 2009
I feel closer to solving the riddle of activism in 2009. We’ve known how conservative the Democrat/Working Families and the Republican/Independence Parties are. It’s Coke and Pepsi, it’s McDonalds and Burger King. The two party system enforces a strict censorship. We had to experience first-hand the harsh silence of it.
The hundreds upon hundreds of articles in the New York Times that never mention a third party… we had to experience this first-hand. It goes hand in hand with the arresting of people in small groups, such as peace vigils in the parks, surrounded by police and surveillance. The criminalizing of dissent goes hand in hand with the $50 million built environment of electronic ads. The imitation of democracy continues on our televisions and computers, but you can’t practice it yourself in public space. The mainstream press acts as if it is the commons of our democracy. They pretend that they don’t notice how far it’s gone. By not questioning Consumerism as a totalizing economy, they disappear farther and farther into their minor cleverness. We read articles about how Bloomberg chooses his leather coat for his latest ad, or where he parks his Falcon 900 jet. I would laugh at this if I wasn’t running, but as a candidate I directly feel how tortured these writers have become, putting up walls against the inflow of crucial and new ideas, but also refusing to write about things far more interesting. I’m ending our campaign today by walking through the three downtown parks, Washington Square, Union Square and Tompkins Square. I’ll carry my small electronic bullhorn without a permit, as I have throughout the campaign. I’ll talk to small groups of folks about how our voices carry, and how our voices don’t carry, in this strange $100 million Playstation that Bloomberg’s turned our city into. And I’m glad I ran because I’ve been reminded that I’m not the only one still talking. There is a coalition of immigrants and artists, students and bloggers and parents in the boroughs – talking back against this expensive media wind. There is a radical freedom in the most ordinary sounding conversations on the corner. Our voices are carrying enough when we walk together, when we talk across a subway car. One part of our city is at war with the rest of us, and tries to normalize this violence with thousands of hours of family-friendly images of happy leaders. But we still have the basics of free speech, the immanence of gestures and language in our bodies. That’s why the police study us so hard – we are considered incendiary in our flesh. We could do anything. And in fact, gatherings of people in their physical form in public space – that is how history’s change has always arrived. It is from our bodies that our voices carry. If they try to shut down our public air, well, we haven’t stopped loving the acoustics in our public places, the American sound of our rising voice.