…and we did. Let me just first say, I’m proud to call Las Vegas home!
I’ve written quite a few ramblings on how we’re stepping into that phase of action of the revolution, hitting a breaking point, about to burst forth in the awakening, and so on… especially in my dissertation-length look back and call to arms “The Evolution of our Revolution” a year ago. Well now I can say with backup and heartfelt assurance that we have broken that threshold, that 2013 was the year it all came out, the year that we turned words into action, the year that we carried the torch of liberty and set the nation ablaze into an enlightened new era- and it is our duty to ensure we keep this going and reach what we have set in motion, the restoration and fulfillment of a free country and awakened, educated populace.
Aside from touching on the progress that has been made nationwide as a whole, this article will focus on the accomplishments at our local level, because my primary role now is helping in any way I can here in my city, and I am proud beyond words of what we have achieved here, and how quickly (even though the battles have been extremely difficult and with their losses, sweat, and tears- and at times seem to take a million years) we have become a force to be reckoned with. I won’t go into too much detail for the sake of keeping this at a decent readable flow, but I will be including links to look into the strides that have been made.
And they haven’t just been Libertarian, Republican, or even just Ron Paul supporter victories, but across the board, regardless of party, from GMOs, to marijuana, to Anonymous, to the near-war on Syria, to of course the anti-NDAA effort, and more.
2012 was the year we saw the opportunity to grasp onto the apparent awakening occurring nationwide and globally, set in motion by 2011’s waves of protests at home and abroad, revolution clearly in the air. We tried to solve this with immediacy, because of course the problems have been so immediate, by trying to convince as much of America as possible that we needed true change, by going straight to the top and putting in a revolutionary President. For most of “our people”, that was Ron Paul, at least up until he was no longer an option. Many of us knew the chances were very slim, but we stood by our principles, and at times, he actually seemed to have a chance, more of a chance than he or any real “good choice” had before. Of course we saw what happened with that. The general population was easily herded into their red or blue stables, and charisma and propaganda again won the day (and within Paul’s own party, cheating and corruption won- and ultimately led to defeat, and perhaps the demise of the party).
In 2013, the nation really woke up. To ring in the new year, the Benghazi scandal proved to hold very dark secrets and these were just the beginning of the revelations that would rock any remaining faith in the government off of its foundations. Obama could’ve been impeached for the Benghazi attack alone. The IRS targeting conservative and Tea Party groups, and groups with such frightening words as “constitution” in the description, angered even liberal civil rights advocates who know playing politics is over when it comes to targeting certain political groups to victimize (although this drew some jokes from liberals who still didn’t quite grasp the issue because they weren’t the targets). Then came the scandal no one could laugh off. The NSA wiretapping scandal that just kept getting bigger and bigger, basically amounting to more than most Americans ever expected. Many astute Americans, and especially us libertarians and “conspiracy theorists” (not that we are one and the same), were pretty sure we were being surveilled for years, very much so since the Patriot Act, as the signs and language pointed towards, but now we had the documentation.
Edward Snowden, now fortunately a household name, the NSA whistleblower, provided us this proof. He fled the country and became an exile due to the threats by our top officials, fleeing country to country, each harboring country receiving intimidation and threats from the U.S., and finally found asylum in Russia, something straight out of a James Bond movie. More and more information leaked out throughout the year and we learned that not only had Government officials including Obama lied that they weren’t surveilling millions of Americans (they’d spied on just about all of us), but the scope of the information they’ve compiled reaches into every corner of our lives. And on many other countries, as well, of course. This drew the ire of allies such as Germany and France, and returned us to being the most hated country in the world. Here is a timeline (Wikipedia). This perfect storm of scandals sent approval of Obama and our government to historical record lows. And gladly, whistleblowers garnered widespread attention, and have become the heroes of our age for many, hopefully so for our youngest generations.
Drones took center stage when Rand Paul gave his fame-boosting 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination for CIA director, giving the Obama administration’s excessive use of drones the attention it deserved. After months of avoiding the question and then acting like he never understood the question, Eric Holder was publicly pressured into saying the U.S. would not use drones against American noncombatants on U.S. soil.
Also on the “defense” front, the NDAA 2012 indefinite detention provisions (sections 1021 and 1022) took center stage in local and state governments across the country, having gone from widespread opposition throughout the year before, to action taken against it throughout 2013. Nullification and opposition resolutions, brought by concerned citizens, were passed in numerous city, county, and state governments. Many more did not pass, but the victories have made resounding noise and notify the federal Government as well as the national populace that we are not going to sit idly by as are liberties are trampled upon. Here at the local level, we put up quite a fight, as our local friend and state director of PANDA Daphne Lee brought the resolution to City Council, where it passed, and then tried for months at County Commission and went viral with her “I’m Just A Mom” speech. After a dramatic series of meetings with a large number of activists showing up for public comments, the Commission voted in favor of our anti-NDAA resolution, 6-0, before most of us could even speak in that meeting.
(my last two blogs covered that, as linked above)
Another form of protest we got involved in at the local level that showed all signs of actually affecting policy, and likely an important part of history, were actual street protests against the then-looming war on Syria. Protests popped up immediately all across the country once word spread that we were likely to attack Syria any day, thanks largely to social media. It was clear this could be another Iraq, another quagmire, and that the “evidence” was anything but conclusive against the Syrian government. The claims that the Assad regime attacked its own people with chemical weapons smelled just like Iraq’s yellowcake plutonium b.s., and many of us knew that the U.S. was working with Al Qaeda to support the rebels, and that there may have even been evidence linking the rebels to use of those chemical weapons. Plus the country had gotten smarter since the last wars and interventions, and we simply knew we could not afford this and that soldiers’ lives would be put on the line, as much as our government denied it.
A few fellow activists and I organized the first protest a couple days before it took place, and the turnout was fantastic for such short notice- clearly many saw this as an urgent issue to publicize, and by the number of honks we heard at that protest and the next, most of the public was on our side. During that first national day of protests, Sep. 7th, Obama begrudgingly announced that he would have Congress vote on approval, as mandated by the Constitution. The nation, as well as the global community, put the pressure on full blast, and the case for war fell apart over the weeks. As the President saw Congress was dangerously close to not approving, and he would certainly be seen as a dictator if he were to order an attack without their approval, and also with pressure from Russia and certainly not wanting to be further embarrassed by Putin’s rising role, he gave in to diplomacy and the public’s demands to not get militarily involved. Public opposition just might have thwarted World War Three.
Other protests that went nationwide and apparently made an impact were those of the national March Against Monsanto. There was one in the Spring and one in the Fall, both garnering major national attention (when not blacked out) and drawing huge crowds. The government has remained as subservient as possible to Monsanto, and the media of course serves them as well, but surprisingly after the second wave of marches and clear growing opposition to GMOs and the mega-corporation, FOX aired a hard-hitting report on GMOs, shocking and pleasing many activists. Also, not using GMOs has become cool, and when chains like Chipotle announce they will not use GMO in any of their ingredients, their stock soars. The next marches are scheduled for May 24th, 2014, and the GMO-free Las Vegas branch is going strong.
Of course, this was also a huge year (or transitory year) for marijuana legalization. In the 2012 elections, Colorado and Washington became the first states to fully legalize marijuana. As we just saw, Colorado now has legal recreational dispensaries and a huge cannabis boom as of Jan. 1st, 2014, but it’s been legal since Jan. 1st, 2013. The Green Rush has begun. The year saw further dropping of the stigmas and increasing acceptance and awareness of the benefits, as well as huge medical breakthroughs. Also, Uruguay fully legalized marijuana, and may be triggering a worldwide marijuana revolution outside of the U.S. In Nevada, the local medical marijuana advocacy group WECAN (it is legal in NV with a M.M. card), pushed Senate Bill 374 through until it was signed into law (this also nearly didn’t make it, but a patients’ letter-writing campaign pushed it through), allowing for dispensaries to open and distribute medical marijuana. There was some controversial language, as is inevitable with getting the government involved, but negotiations were made. Here’s me as the Bill (or rather, Law) itself at last year’s Las Vegas Halloween Parade!:
Another group who made strides in 2013, and actually just formed the same year, is Southern Nevada Watchdogs. They formed to keep track of the important agenda items voted on at County Commission and City Council, as well as Metro Police (who clearly need watching after the past few years of rising shootings and assaults); Nevada Cop Block has been the primary watchdog group of Metro, though of course they need to be watched from all angles. Together they have been fighting the “More Cops Tax”, a regressive sales tax proposed by Sheriff Doug Gillespie (seen by many as the local root of how corrupt Metro has become; when he became Sheriff he prided himself on hugely expanding the police force) at County Commission- when it was pushed in early October, a huge number of concerned citizens showed up at the meeting to speak against the tax, one of the fullest rooms ever, and the proposal was rejected. In December Gillespie returned with a new “hybrid” proposal, and numerous people spoke against it even though it will not be voted on until January 21st of this year. Expect another major turnout, and oh, Commissioner Tom Collins (proponent of the tax) to not be seated much of the time during comments. Check out my video that’s gotten quite favorable responses if you’re curious about this Tom fellow (yup, another plug): Where’s Tom? (Redux- updated version)
Anonymous also seemed to have a resurgence in the news, despite attempts to implode it via infighting and co-opted factions, with several attempts proven by numerous skilled anons to be government plants. The leaderless “legion” of hacktivists and across-the-board activists of all kinds claimed responsibility for massive landmark site and infrastructure takedowns of behemoths such as the FBI, Federal Reserve, MIT and the U.S. Sentencing Commission after Reddit founder Aaron Swartz’s suicide (just before trial, after being harassed for years by the FBI), released millions of files from the intelligence firm Stratfor, FEMA, the NSA, and more, almost all in response to an act committed by said agency or group against freedom, liberty, humanity, etc. The FBI claimed to “dismantle” Anonymous a few months back, and as a response, Anonymous then hacked the FBI and released many secret files. America’s first nationwide Million Mask March (along with the globe) took place on the 5th of November and plans have already begun for 2014’s MMM. Also, Anonymous was deeply involved in the March Against Mainstream Media and ops have been ongoing.
I know there are milestones and achievements I missed, and will remember later, but these are some of the biggest highlights and headlines I can recall, towards our reclamation of what our country was meant to be, and the foundations of a new truly liberty-centered future.
I am of course not blocking out the painful memories of the year such as the beginning of the Obamacare nightmare (though perhaps as silver lining, most people are now realizing how bad it is- a rude awakening), the government shutdown, the 2014 NDAA, the TPP being fast tracked, increasing police state, Bradley/Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison, a slew of new attacks on civil liberties and a government with seemingly nothing to lose, and here in Nevada, the age of drone testing and use being heralded in this year. Which makes it all the more important for us to take the past year as motivation that we can win these battle by battle. As with everything in life, we should take what we’ve learned, and build a vision using our progress and not repeat mistakes, which has been one of our country’s most fatal flaws.
2013 showed us that grassroots involvement at the political level, no matter how seemingly “small” or intimidating, and also street action, when going about it the right way, DOES make a difference. Get involved in your local governments’ council/commission/board meetings, write and go to your state legislators, take part in local activist groups (those “secret meetings”, and start them up yourself if you don’t have any! Everything I’ve been involved with started with a few concerned citizens), write articles or make videos, spread the word however you can, above all DO SOMETHING! The path we’ve made for ourselves the past year shows beautiful promise for 2014, and it’s an election year, so let’s make it count. More people are moving away from the two-party system than ever, going the independent or third party/no party route and we’ve truly seen many beautiful “libertarian moments”. And as shown by this social movement graph representing past movements’ framework, we would be in the beginning or so of the 6th stage, Building Majority Support, which is the last stage before success.
Here in Vegas, we want to start off the year of true change with a call to unified action, for a Rally to Restore the Constitution on February 15th, 1:00PM at the Federal Building downtown. Details will be updated on the event page as they develop. We also would like this to be nationwide (that page is here), though the time draws very near. We’re calling on everyone from disillusioned disappointed Democrats and Republicans, Occupiers and Tea Partiers, yes “potheads and hunters”, capitalists and hippies, and everything in between and outside, to show the world that divide and conquer will no longer work- the Constitution brings us all together, it’s what our country stands for, and there is at least one amendment in there that each of us has been disturbed and affected by the assaults on. Truly, they’ve attacked and disobeyed the Constitution as a whole. We’ve seen how effective we are when we come together, so it’s time to really multiply and compound that grassroots power and put differences aside that pale in comparison to what we’re all fighting against- a tyrannical system gone too far.
The awakening is in full bloom so it’s time to seize the moment, we’ve hardly just begun. And remember, just as how most of the above was achieved-
“It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”