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2018: The Year of the ‘Ballot or the Bullet’

Malcolm X, one of my heroes, once gave one of the best speeches of all time, “The Ballot or the Bullet”. Why do I bring this up? Because we are there once again. Let me say this unequivocally, I do not condone or promote violent overthrow of the US Government or rioting.

Whew, now that’s out of the way, let’s have a real conversation. It’s simply that when you strip a people of rights and give them no avenue to pursue justice, the end result will be a literal violent overthrow of the government and destruction of corporations and their executives.

When you subject people to potential heinous laws such as in North Carolina where protesters can be run over by motorists or voting rights can be stripped away and new hurdles put in place to prevent voting, you’re only leaving one avenue: violence.

Things like the First Amendment and the Fifteenth were put in place as a “pressure valve” on the public’s displeasure with the government. Don’t like the policies being enacted by Washington D.C.? Protest, petition, speak out, or vote the parasites out of office! It’s been a surprisingly good defense against coups, violent overthrows, and politician entrails being strewn over D.C. and State Legislatures everywhere. It’s prevented revolutions from occurring and civil wars from breaking out. All in all, a reasonably good idea to prevent a dystopian nightmare from coming to fruition.

The Oligarchy is consolidating power and their puppets from the entire GOP and the neoliberal, corporate, Centrist Democrats are aiding this entire endeavor with the help of Citizens United. For example, there have been countless mass shootings in this country every day and yet the gun lobby doesn’t even need to lift a finger to prevent gun control legislation. Why is that? Simple; they’ve bought your elected officials by funneling funds into campaigns and Political Action Committees that they represent and/or created. This is known by most in the world as bribery, but here in the good ol’ US of A, it’s known as corporations being “people”.

By corporations and different industries funneling money into State and Federal offices, corporations have effectively purchased the ability to be “above the law”. Illness caused by a component of your product because of the product or its chemicals being released into the environment? That sucks, “let me slip some money here, here, and here and oh boy, I’m good!” You have no redress through the court system because politicians have created or amended laws that do nothing to hold corporations or the wealthy accountable.

Did the 2008 Toxic Housing Mortgage get ya down and wipe away your life’s earnings?  Sucks that you’re not the one percent because it didn’t slow Wall Street down. CEO’s and Wall Street companies made out fine with next to no prison sentences and CEO “golden parachutes” to soften their “falls”, while millions lost their homes, jobs, and savingsWereas there laws to prevent this? Yes, but they have been wiped away since the 1970’s and have left us today with no protection against the predatory corporate class.

Today we have protests cordoned off into “zones”. Facebook both censors opinion and distributes “fake news”. You have the American President stating during his campaign that, “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously, OK? Just knock the hell … I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise.”

The culmination of all of these issues and more build up the public’s frustration. The frustration builds and builds and if there isn’t an action that can be taken to change the cause of that frustration peacefully, what’s left? It’s as though the Oligarchy is daring the public to do something. It’s as though the Politician Class is blatantly taking bribes, following directions from their wealthy paymasters, and voting against the People’s interests.

We are reaching a point in our history where 2018 could be, as Malcolm X once said about 1964, “the year of the ballot or the bullet.” All avenues of peaceful and “legal” redress are being taken away from you as you become nothing more than the “peasant class”. The middle class is shrinking, costs of education are rising, and jobs are geared towards the service industry where a person must work two to three jobs just to make ends meet. Having basic healthcare is almost a luxury at this point. All this is occurring while this government is stripping our rights. What’s a public to do?

I am not advocating violence or an overthrow of this government, I am a person looking at the situation and asking myself, “If all peaceful options are taken off the table, what’s left?” I believe 2018 is the last gasp of non-violent resistance to a plutocracy that is turning a once proud nation into a totalitarian state. This is the moment that you need to wake up and realize that your inaction will lead to your chains. Get out there and stand for a better America, a Progressive/Left America that ends all of the grievances that I mentioned in this article.

Practice your rights to petition, to speak freely, to protest, and to vote. Do not be the generation that gave away our nation to racists, bigots, and misogynists. Be the generation that stood and looked into the abyss and unequivocally took back this country for all of us. There isn’t room for fence sitters, centrists, or anyone who wants to ride the bench. It’s as simple as this, “united we stand, or divided we fall.”

Written by Jason Carney

Jason Carney

Born in Massachusetts in 1981, grew up an Army Brat and travelled the world with my father who served as a member of the Special Forces for 24 years. Mother was a strong and dedicated woman with a work ethic second to none. I decided to enlist in the Army National Guard in October 2009, having heard that they deployed more frequently. I have served honorably since then and was accepted into the Army Officer Candidate School before a workplace injury rendered me temporarily disabled.

Grew up studying politics, political figures, discourse, and ideologies of the world as I found politics to be a contact sport for the most hardened of individuals. Started Vets for the 99% in late 2015 to show that Progressive/Left ideology could not only be embraced by every segment of society, but could further the nation as a whole.

Follow Jason on Twitter @TheJasonCarney.

Jason is a Guest Contributor to Progressive Army.

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2018: The Year of the ‘Ballot or the Bullet’