It was thanks to women like Eppie that this moment in history could exist — a moment when a woman could be a serious contender for the presidency of the United States. In the 1970s Eppie had defied her husband by helping to found a Planned Parenthood branch in her town. She'd started a women's empowerment group before most of us even knew what empowerment meant.
You do not become a "dissident" just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.
If the question could be put to a popular vote, I do not believe a single state would vote for the coming of Jesus to reign here as he reigns in heaven. I do not believe a single county, city, ward in this city, or a single precinct in this country would vote for his coming. . . . The Republican party would vote for the biggest blackguard on earth rather than for him. The Democrats would vote solidly against him. Even the Prohibitionists wouldn't want him here. I see some of you shaking your heads. Well, shake 'em. I'm talking facts.
The culture has moved to the point where I find myself in the far left without having gone there. I still feel like I'm putting up my father's old Indiana farmer's values. I think I'm a conservative. I don't think these guys that call themselves "conservatives" really are; these guys are high rollers and plungers and bet-the-farm-on-slender-odds guys; they ain't conservatives. I think a conservative is somebody who cares about conserving the planet and the air and the water and the sky and the sun. It is something mean to say that mankind has fucked up the sunshine.
Our noses too, and our eyes and ears, are political instruments, protesters. An aesthetic response is a political action. . . . We know instinctively, aesthetically, when a fish stinks, when the sense of beauty is offended. Standing for these moments — and these moments occur each day, within every airless office building, seated in each crippling chair, inundated by senseless noise and fattened on industrial food — standing for our responses, these aesthetic reverberations of truth in the soul, may be the primary civic act of the citizen, the origin of caution and of the precautionary principle itself, with its warnings to stop, look, and listen.
It is supposed to be part of the American tradition that if we want to step out of line, we step out of line. Democracy isn't falling in line behind the president. Democracy is for people to think independently, be skeptical of government, look around and try to find out what's going on. And if they find out that government is deceiving them, to speak out as loudly as they can.
Conservatives have historically seen people falling through the cracks in society and said, That's the way things work, survival of the fittest. Liberals see people falling through the cracks and say, We've got to do something about those people falling through the cracks, so we need a strong government that can provide programs and assist those people. Populists say there shouldn't be any cracks; let's fix them.
You find lots of little things going on in every community in the country. If there is a world here in a hundred years, it will not be due to any big organization of any sort, no big political group, no big church, no big government. It is going to be saved by millions upon millions of little organizations. It might just be that what Jesus and Jeremiah and Mohammed and Buddha talked about will come true.
It is my intention to make my entire life a rejection of, a protest against the crimes and injustices of war and political tyranny which threaten to destroy the whole race of [humankind] and the world with [it] . . . . I make monastic silence a protest against the lies of politicians, propagandists, and agitators, and when I speak it is to deny that my faith and my church can ever be aligned with these forces of injustice and destruction. But it is true, nevertheless, that the faith in which I believe is also invoked by many who believe in war, believe in racial injustices, believe in self-righteous and lying forms of tyranny. My life must, then, be a protest against these also, and perhaps against these most of all.
Once, perhaps, the God-intoxicated few could abscond to the wild frontiers, the forests, the desert places to keep alive the perennial wisdom that they harbored. But no longer. They must now become a political force or their tradition perishes. Soon enough, there will be no solitude left for the saints to roam but its air will shudder with a noise of great engines that drowns out all prayers.