Short answer: I don't know.
Despairing answer: With an electoral system that doesn't work, a mass media machine that manipulates public opinion, and a government which has accumulated so much power it can read this blog post, track down where I live, and send a drone after me without any trial ... how the heck can we ever have a revolution?
Hopeful answer: People have been oppressed worse than this, and they have successfully thrown off their oppressors. Read about the Solidarity movement in Poland, for instance. It is truly amazing what a convinced populace can do.
And we have an added advantage, which is that the entire structure is somewhat dependent on the greatest mass of people not believing that they are oppressed. They've been slowly "boiling the frog," first making us remove our shoes to fly, then patting us down, then expanding searches to bus stations or even public streets. Most people have no idea what the Federal Reserve is, much less what it is up to, and they are convinced that the two candidates we are being allowed to choose from are mortal enemies, rather than friendly competitors with the same backers and roughly the same agenda. In a depressed moment, I often think that the American people is just too busy watching Jersey Shore to care how little freedom we have.
But in a hopeful moment, I realize that they really just don't know. And they can be taught. And the power to spread information is in our hands now, thanks to the Internet. I've watched instructional video after instructional video explaining how capitalism works or what the Fed does. I've read news that was never "supposed" to get out. (I must get John to write up a list of helpful links! There is so much available.) Recently there was a veteran who posted "treasonous" statuses on Facebook. He was arrested and booked into a mental institution because these statuses were a sign of "instability." What do you know, a very short time after this story got out, a judge ruled that there was no evidence he was insane and ordered him released. Would this have happened if the word hadn't got out, if there hadn't been a public outcry? I don't know. But I'm glad there was an outcry.
The unforeseen impact of the Ron Paul movement gives witness to this phenomenon. Paulites met on forums, swapped tips, and researched the heck out of the Republican primary rules. They made plans. They were able to get delegates the party had counted on them never getting. Every move they made to stop it ended up being publicized -- how they changed caucus locations and didn't inform Ron Paul supporters; how they broke and changed their rules repeatedly; how they locked the doors of convention locations so Ron Paul delegates couldn't get in. In the end they were so scared they had to refuse to seat the Maine delegation to the RNC -- which proves now to everyone that they are being forced to cheat to silence the voice of liberty.
Little by little, Americans are waking up to the reality of their oppression ... but they're waking up hopeful. They know that once this knowledge spreads far enough, it won't be able to be stopped. Remember, the whole purpose of the Bill of Rights is to make it much easier for us to preserve our liberty. The Founding Fathers knew that having freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to bear arms, freedom to assemble, and so forth would make it easy for us to have a revolution -- and they knew this because they themselves had had a revolution without any of these things. They were fighting a foe that had a trained, well-equipped army, unlimited supplies, and experienced generals. Everywhere they could meet was occupied territory; every paper they wrote could fall into the wrong hands. But they did it. All it really took was getting a significant minority of the colonists on board.
Currently there are lot of paths the revolution can take. The path I wanted -- putting a servant of liberty right smack in our country's highest office -- does not seem to be open this year. But a river, once dammed, finds a million tiny rivulets to travel. It still reaches the sea.
1. Spread the word
Like I said, we have the internet. Do you know how much easier it would have been on the Founding Fathers if they'd had freaking internet access? All that sneaky riding around with newspapers in Johnny Tremayne (a book I highly recommend, by the way) could have been dispensed with. We have a vehicle for educating our peers and exchanging ideas. Use it. Don't assume that any American is just a dumb sheep, staring with eyes glazed over at a television screen. They may be watching, but it's because they don't know what's going on yet. Tell them. See what they say.
2. Protect your own freedom
If you are starving, according to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (John's current obsession), you won't care if you're enslaved. This is the real danger of our fragile economic situation; not that we will fall on hard times, but that our government will use those hard times to increase its hold on us. This happened in the Depression; it is likely to happen in the future.
You know what my great-grandfather did during the Great Depression? He took his family out to a lake in the middle of nowhere, and they hunted and fished and planted a garden. While many in cities stood in bread lines, my grandfather's childhood pictures show him proudly showing off a big fish and swimming in the lake. In his old age, G-Gpa had a microfarm on his single-acre suburban lot and hardly ever went to the store. I don't know if it was habit, or if he felt safer knowing his food supply was right there. But I would like to imitate him. My long-term goal, as you know, is to have a homestead. But in the short term, I grow what food I can, in the hopes of preserving as much independence as I can. If you can't grow your own food, know your farmer. Many people store up a reserve supply of food as well. Use your judgment. I don't know what the future holds, but I do know that we are all very vulnerable to any crisis if we only have, as many people do, a few days' food in the fridge.
Really, the more independent you are, whether from food, energy, or debt, the more free you are. Ask yourself honestly: "What do I own? What do I rely on a much larger infrastructure to provide me?" See how much you can change those answers.
3. Make a fuss
Every time a farmer has his produce confiscated, or a gathering is shut down for meeting without a permit, or a small business owner gets put out of business because he can't manage to follow all the insane regulations, or a little child is patted down at an airport, or a front-yard garden is bulldozed, or a parent loses their child to foster care because they made an unconventional medical decision, or a law is passed that gives the government some new power it never had before ... make a fuss. Make as big a fuss as the first time. Sign petitions or spread the word. It's important that we notice when our freedoms are taken away; the goal of our overlords is that we do not notice.
4. Campaign for the issues
We had one candidate who agreed with all our issues, a liberty candidate. But that doesn't mean that we can't also campaign for these issues separately. Locally, John has been involved in trying to unseat our congressman for co-sponsoring SOPA. It's important that we hold all our elected officials accountable and let them know that they cannot continue to hold office if they keep screwing us over. The President is such a lofty office. If we've got a good one, it's so exciting; if we've got a bad one, there is so very little we can do during his term. But the President can't do much without Congress. The liberty movement is broad and energetic. We can and will pull a "Ron Paul campaign" on every seat in Congress if we have to. Let them know that they have to at least pretend to serve liberty, or they don't get to remain in office. I'm not going to kid myself and say we should appeal to their better natures; perhaps some have them, but most seem to want to stay in office more than anything. Well, to stay in office, they need our votes, and they won't get them unless they vote for liberty. Write your Congressmen every time a major issue comes up -- and tell them that you will vote them out if they don't speak for you.
These, as I see them, are a few of The Issues:
*End the TSA
*End the Fed
*End any and all encroachments on the Bill of Rights: searches without warrants, wiretapping, suspension of habeas corpus, assassination orders, indefinite detention, censorship, etc.
*Return the currency to a fixed standard. The gold standard is good but really any fixed value will do. At any event, we must stop the unlimited printing of money at the government's will. Runaway inflation is a real danger, and it is going to catch up with us.
*End foreign interventions
*Balance the freaking budget already! I think a lot of people think that the national debt can just get higher forever and nothing bad will happen. Heck, a lot of people think they can do that with their credit cards. It doesn't work that way.
Campaign for this stuff, and all liberty-related issues from front-yard gardens to raw milk.
5. And in this election ....
This is hard. Because I know I'm going to be hated for this. I will make some of my friends and family very angry.
I have been told that this year is the really crucial election, that we have to win it, that it is all very well to be principled but at this point it's time to compromise. And really, I am willing to compromise. But I just don't see the Republican-Democrat dichotomy to be anything real. Republicans and Democrats snarl at each other in the congressional chambers and walk out slapping each other on the back. They want us to think they hate each other, but they have the same sponsors (huge banks and other corporations) and the same agenda (increase government power). The quarrel is not whether they should increase government power, but simply which one of them will be in the driver's seat. We are simply the points they score with. They gain our "points" by promising us different things: a tax break for this class, a tax break for that class, a pro-life speech for you, a gay-rights speech for you. But they don't care about that stuff. They care about winning the election.
I see the dichotomy differently. There are two sides: pro-liberty and anti-liberty. Either you vote for the duarchy* -- the rule by two parties that we've been operating under so long -- or you vote against it.
The reality is that in this presidential election, a vote against the duarchy will not be counted. Your choice is between Red Evil and Blue Evil. Any other choice is a non-choice and will not end in winning the presidency.
It really boils down to how much hope you have. If you have given up on the idea that the Republican Party will work with us, it doesn't matter all that much if you vote or not. Do as you see fit -- but your main avenue for change will be in the steps above.
If you think, as Ron Paul does, that our path to change is through the Republican Party, and that we have to convince it to start doing some pro-liberty stuff for real, then you should vote. Not for the Republican Party. They will not change if you tell them they are doing a good enough job to get your vote. If you've followed the primaries at all, you know that voting the way you like in the primary isn't good enough; they will prevent you from having a say there. Tell them that this behavior is unacceptable; if they won't even give you a seat at the table at the primary, then don't vote for them.
You have a few different options. There's Gary Johnson, with the Libertarian Party. He's less libertarian than Ron Paul is, but he's not terrible. And you know that the GOP will notice that they're hemorrhaging voters in that direction. They will know what it means; that you are a freedom-loving person who would have voted for them if they chose a liberty candidate, but since they didn't, you are forced out of the party. As far as I know, he is on the ballot in every state besides Oklahoma.
Then there's Virgil Goode who is running with the Constitution Party. I don't know much about his positions; you will have to research those yourself and see if they jive with your beliefs. He may not be on the ballot in your state; they're challenging him here in Virginia, so we'll just have to wait and see.
You can also write in Ron Paul or another candidate of your choice, but this vote may or may not be counted. If you want to make a statement to the GOP, you will want to make sure your vote is counted. Here is a list of states and their rules on write-ins. A write-in for Ron Paul will not work in Virginia, because we have a "sore loser" law: if someone has lost the primary for another party, he can't get write-in votes.
6. Do not be afraid
I did a brave thing today in publicly saying all this. Many people I care deeply about, also care deeply about politics. I don't want to lose their good opinion; even less do I want to fight or argue. But I think it is important for me to speak up.
Please be brave too. Don't worry about whether people think you are a crackpot or a conspiracy theorist. Try to express yourself clearly so you don't sound like a crackpot, but in the end, people are going to think what they're going to think. That's up to them and not you.
Be brave, and don't let fear of the future get to you. I have to admit, it's been getting to me. I cried the other night, thinking of the world my children are growing up in, the future they will have to face. I know that things are getting worse fast; faster, I think, than most people imagine. My goal is to do what I can, not to forestall the hard times to come, but to push through them and ensure that what comes after is better than what came before. As Thomas Paine said, "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace."
I leave you with some further words of his to stir your hope and firm your conviction:
These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the
sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their
county; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man
and woman. Tyranny like hell is not easily conquered yet we have this
consolation with us, the harder the conflict, the more glorious the
triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness
only that gives everything its value.
Viva la Revolution!
*Duarchy is a term I invented just now, at least I haven't seen it elsewhere. It means the rule of two; namely, our two parties.
**This post is addressed to those who agree with me already. If you don't, I suggest you read my past political posts before commenting so you know where I'm coming from.