If there’s one issue that the ever playful and incisive independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone has pounded on these past couple years, it’s that the unspoken consensus that seems to govern our world is merely a bunch of stories that wealthy, powerful people tell us through the media and institutions they own and operate. That’s it. Stories. Narratives.
One of those stories is that we have only two political parties and you have no choice but to vote for one or the other. This really is just a story—and it’s not even a true one. In most elections, whether they’re local, state or federal, there’s almost always a selection of candidates from the fringe of the mainstream parties or from alternative parties who aren’t a part of the money-driven election game that’s steadily overtaken this country. Given that, there’s no reason voters can’t vote for only those candidates who don’t take money from corporations. That we don’t has everything to do with our unconscious acceptance of the stories we’re told, such as:
- Voting outside the Democratic and Republican parties is wasting your vote
- If you support an alternate party, you’re selfish and lack strategic sense
- Alternate party candidates aren’t experienced enough and won’t get anything done
- It’s only the party you identify with least that you should oppose
In truth, it would actually be easy to tell ourselves a different story, one that says, for instance, that until officials consent to take money out of electoral politics, a majority of people simply won’t vote for any candidate that’s motivated to represent donors over regular citizens. That would be an incredible demonstration of citizen power.
There’s a pretty bad Richard Pryor movie from the 80s called Brewster’s Millions that slips in this bit of subversive, populist logic. In it, Pryor’s character is given a challenge. He has a shot at collecting an astronomical fortune only if he can bankrupt himself by using up a smaller fortune. After a bit, he realizes that the fastest way to spend all the cash is to run a political campaign. The twist is he doesn’t want to get elected. Instead, he highlights the corruption of every politician, throws lavish parties for voters and asks them to vote for ‘None of the Above’, which they do en masse, throwing the entire political system into chaos. It’s pretty damn funny watching him do it.
Essentially, this crappy Hollywood movie lays out a loose blueprint for a massive exercise of citizen power because Pryor’s character jolts voters out of their apathy and convinces them to tell themselves a different story. We could do something similar. What if we all voted for ‘None of the Above’ by unwaveringly casting our lot with any candidate not answerable to a donor? Who could actually stop us from doing that (other than ourselves)?
Admittedly, this is a near impossibility right now because far too many of us live deep inside the narratives that the wealthy and powerful have laid out for us. But there is baby step we all can take and it has to do with the media institutions that are largely responsible for propagating our culture’s dominant political narratives in the first place.
What if every time you were getting ready to share a piece of corporate content on a political issue, you stopped yourself and went out of your way to share that content from an independent media source? It’s actually quite do-able to cut out ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, major newspapers and corporate digital outlets. Just as there was during the 1st Cold War, when government and corporate propaganda was just as ubiquitous, today there are a host of independent media outlets and individual journalists/activists/historians/political scholars who are covering most of the same stuff the corporate press is covering (and a lot more, to boot). All that’s required is a little Duck Duck Go search to find them.
It would be a worthy experiment to see if you could contain the urge to clap back on the latest corporate news atrocity and instead highlight independent media takes on the same issue. If you dislike the establishment and want to overturn it, if you believe another world is possible, doesn’t it follow that you have to go ahead and make it possible by manifesting it in your daily life? Click To Tweet
I came across a writer on Medium last year called Gris Cray. He had embarked on a simple, helpful task to compile a list of independent media outlets and individual journalists for anyone to review. He asked his readers to add their favorite indy outlets in the comments section. Then, he’d do a little research and add their info to his list. He’s since deleted his Medium account and that list has disappeared but, over the next week, I’m going to take up the task myself. Once I get my initial list and descriptions up and running on Medium, I’ll be Tweeting about it (my handle is @sbonifides) and I’ll update this article with a link as well.
It’s true that we’re trying to grow this publication, bring on new writers and make a go of it financially. But if we’re going to chip away at the oligarchy’s narrative power, we want to see that growth happen for indy media as a whole, not just us. That makes the experiment I’m proposing all the more urgent. I hope you’ll join me.
Stay tuned and, as always, thanks for reading.
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