While there have been a few gaps where I didn’t post for months and I started posting in 2004, the site was in, what I like to call a 9 month or so pregnancy and was born on the 4th of July, 2005.
It entered into an America torn apart by 2 bloody wars and a divisive election. It was a time when the Republicans ruled Congress, the Presidency and dominated the Supreme Court with inevitable nominees on the way as well that would ensure their dominance to come. It was a time when Cheney’s quote that “Reagan proved deficits didn’t matter” was widely known and the conservatives didn’t care. It was a time when fear of terrorism was still being used to political ends, remember Orange Alerts that appeared whenever the latest Bush scandal popped up? It was a time of growing scandals about the Bush Administration with major scandals beginning to appear and plenty more on the way.
For my own life, it was a time when I had begun to protest the war again. I had joined the marches here in LA, BEFORE the war began, back in 2002 and in early 2003 and the initial zeal and pro-war fever was dying down. I can recall that whenever a protest against the war popped up, a bunch of annoying conservatives would show up and protest the protest. This would eventually go away but it took a long time to shift public opinion on what we were doing in the Middle East and convince the brain dead right and the corporate media that we were not “against the troops” but actually trying to keep them alive.
Soapblox was conceived because I had sent out numerous political emails (which seems so silly these days) to friends and family. I then began posting on Live Journal (which also seems silly these days). Well it was also a little silly then too, or at the very least was starting to, and I needed another outlet. The positive feedback I received gave me encouragement and so I decided to embark on making it a website. I had designed websites and was getting deeper into the medium, yet I needed more than the basics. A good friend of mine who has posted on here, pitched in. He shared many of my political beliefs and threw in his support for a political blog.
First I needed a name. Yet it came to me quick. It was to be my soapbox, that was a term I used at the time, and it was a blog. Soapblog! Well that wasn’t taken but the domain was owned, bastards. So I did what many did and have continued to do, come up with an original name. Soapblogs? Nah, wait! Soapblox! The domain was available and I bought it on the spot.
Apparently just in time, as a Soapblox.net was formed within months of my operation, more on that another time.
I had recently returned to a university and while continuing my studies in American History, politics and film, I began to yearn for political involvement on campus. On election day 2004, I came down with a fever. I also had a mid-term in my History of World War II class, taught by a VERY conservative professor with little followers who were all gleeful during the results. By the time I got home I knew it was over, I turned off the TV, put on a crazy sci-fi anime and went to bed. I had crazy fever dreams that things were alright and that Kerry had actually won. When I awoke, the dream was over but the nightmare continued, of what appeared to me to be the worst president since Warren Harding. I posted a synopsis of my fever dreams on a website and perhaps I will share that soon.
It was then that I realized that despite being on the correct side of history, despite doing all I could do at the time to fight for what I believed was right, you can still lose. Rather than hunker down and get all cerebral about how the system was rigged I doubled down, and Soapblox carried forward. It helped that in the spring, I took an extensive course on the American Revolution. I learned so many things about John Locke and Thomas Paine as well as read the many works of other “pamphleteers” and how it shaped the movement towards American sovereignty. It greatly influenced my writing and my purpose.
I posted a few stories before the launch and my programmer / coder friend made the magic happen with my design. It was decided that the bugs were worked out and we were ready for the real deal, despite actually being online for many months. We needed a launch date, well that one was also obvious. On July 4th, 2005, I posted a story, sent out emails and announced the launch by any means I had at the time. This newborn Soapblox had arrived.
Since those days, much has happened. We saw endless scandals, massive deficits, increasing national debt and political divisiveness not seen in over a century. The Republicans were thrown out of Congress, then the White House, and Obama, our nation’s first non-white President was elected. We saw the Iraq War surge, then end, thankfully, and the Afghan War surge and wind down (hopefully to end soon). We saw the fears we had about Bush and the culture of greed and unregulated capitalism justified in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We saw Tea Party phonies co-opt that anger and take back the House and state legislatures. We saw the Occupy Movement erupt in protest to their endless love of capitalism and a naive libertarian utopia. We saw that movement challenge authority and put the 1% on people’s minds. We saw Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell overturned and Gay Rights soar to rapid levels of acceptance. We watched the idiotic clown car of Republican primary challengers and the roaring landslide of Obama’s reelection (the first president to be reelected with a majority since Dwight D. Eisenhower). This of course came with another sight, the rise of the Latino and Youth votes that, along with African-Americans showed that Voter-ID laws can only strengthen our resolve!
Finally, we saw that no matter how much we fight for what is right, no matter how much we can turn the decent public-folk in the middle towards our cause, there will always people who just don’t agree with us because, perhaps, they just don’t like us or anything we stand for. The Right has doubled-down in ways that were once seen as political suicide, much like the Japanese on Peleliu Island and other confrontations with religious fanatics. They will fight to the death if you attack them, so in other words, the most effective outcome is to let them stay in their caves (or bubbles) and let the world pass them by. In 20 years they will come out in their tattered clothes and surrender. With their religious fervor and fanaticism that involves the persecution of minorities, taking over the government and establishing a theocracy and their manipulation of mob rule, they are ill-suited to survive with any major influence in any democracy. In a few years, they will either change, or become a relic of a bygone era.
The future is hard to predict. I am not always right, but if you read the old articles on here, you will find that I have pretty good accuracy and I am nearly always on the right-side of history. You have 8 years of documents to prove it!
That being said, my honest belief is that the future of this country is sound and secure. All of this teetering on the edge talk is from the fringes. I do see a major economic crisis in the near future if reform efforts here are stalled and nothing further is done, though it seems the world’s taste for capitalism is embittered. A new breed of social-capital states seems to be emerging with a smarter, more “carrot and the stick” approach emerging. How the alliances will emerge in the future is too difficult to predict, but my bet is that war will return in a big way at some point. The changes that Climate Change are bringing on can exacerbate this issue. Imagine billions of people with nothing to eat! How much change we are able to get done in this country and influence China, East Asia, India, Russia, Latin America, Europe and Africa will have a profound effect on the world.
Believe it or not, we are still on top today. If anything proves it, is the fact that Snowden, the NSA leaker who has handed out US government secrets to news agencies, has nowhere to run but 3rd world backwaters (though anything can happen there). How long we stay on top though is anyone’s guess, especially when capitalism’s power involves population numbers. We don’t stand a chance against the rest of the world, especially China and India when it comes to the hard numbers. Yet those nations have the largest numbers of disenfranchised and poverty stricken inhabitants. Perhaps, in the end, it isn’t about numbers, but about people. Good honest people who all desire a system that works for everyone. Don’t ever underestimate that!
I am not prone to as many ideals as I did when I started this site, yet this one will never die. A system that works for the good honest people of the world and punishes the cheaters. That, I KNOW is a dream, but if it can happen, it should. Because too many people are left to fend for themselves while assholes who brag about how they used other people’s money are sitting in the skybox at Yankee Stadium sipping Cristal.
Oh and I can offer one last prediction: As long as I am alive, this Soapblox will stay alive with me!