I woke up with
the usual hangover. It'd been a rough night. The booze had run out.
And so had the credit. But, this time, there was something different
in the morning air. There was a certain clarity, like a Santa Ana
wind clearing the LA smog.
It had suddenly
hit me. The whole sorry state of things came into focus: Representative
democracy is like voting for a stranger to sleep with your wife.
He gets all the fun. And you're the one who gets screwed.
down, I always knew I was being played for a fool. I knew that slow
motion economic slavery was the government's game, and dictatorship
the prize. And I always silently wondered: When I wound up on the
poorhouse slab, would anyone come to claim the body?
It was all
a cruel charade, the kind entitled classes have always loved to
play. Promise a palace and deliver a prison. With a lawyer as your
cellmate. On a contingent fee basis.
my brain cleared, I could face it squarely. We're all just servants
at a bankers' party, a party where cash and killing are the evening's
entertainment, a party where everything's for sale. But the party
has gone on too long, and the gods of high finance need fresh infusions
of blood. From the bodies of voters.
And the politicians?
They're just actors in a fourth-rate, poverty-row adventure serial,
the kind the studios churned-out to excite barefoot farm boys. Except,
we're no longer on the farm. And we're no longer boys. I started
to think that we'd become merely customers of our own government,
purchasers of a product that no longer even entertains us, a product
beginning to have the stench of death.
I was uneasy,
that's for sure. I felt as if the third act of a tawdry melodrama
was underway. I even imagined that I heard screaming from the cheap
seats. In fact, I had. The blackmail note had just arrived. Money
was being demanded by the mercenaries with an MBA, by the whores
with a printing press, by the loan sharks with the Wall Street addresses,
by the guys who shower in their suits and make love to their cell
phones. By the hit men who've turned mass murder into an investment
The whole situation
seemed ridiculous, even outrageous, like imagining a priest as chairman
of the Federal Reserve, or Henry Kissinger avoiding eternal damnation.
But, as I paced the room, replaying the past a thousand times over,
I came to realize that I, too, had played a role in making a sordid
mess of things. Of letting my country down.
Like a drunk
forced to face his addiction, or a lobbyist forced to ask for the
return of his bribes, I, too, was forced to finally admit it. I
was part of the problem. And now it was time to help make things
In the past,
it had been all about too many "things" and too much looking
away. It had been about too much silence and too many principles
kept on the shelf. It had been about too much talk about others
not honoring an old piece of paper, and too little effort to honor
it myself. It had been about too little guts and too little action.
And it had been about being afraid to look freedom straight in the
along the Hollywood streets I'd known so well for so long, I knew
there was something calling out for me to do the right thing, no
matter how much I resisted. No matter the fear.
One thing I
knew for sure. I was going to represent myself from now on. And
there would be no more hangovers, at least not until the job was
The air smelled
fresh again. It smelled like…revolution.
Herndon [send him mail] is
a media psychologist with Media Psychology Affiliates. He specializes
in naturalistic research and media design for the worlds of politics