Terrorism

Terrorism is bigger than the destruction of a building. Terrorism changes your priorities far more than it changes your skyline. Terrorism plunders everything in service to that singular necessity: survival. 

It begins with the loss of equilibrium. Your brain feels like it’s unmooring from your skull, melting into fluid, as the room spins around you. Your hearing, too, struggles to keep its grip on reality. If these signals accurately represent the short-circuiting that’s going on in the wiring that is your brain, you then sense nothing at all, and you won’t until you regain consciousness.

You wake in a pool of urine. It’s wet and warm underneath you, or cool if it’s been awhile. During these first conscious moments, you cannot cognitively put words to your name, nor the day, nor the month, nor your location. And so when you’re asked questions, even the most basic questions, your response is that you don’t know. But you do know the people you love, and you’re comforted if they are there.

As you embrace your foggy cognizance, you are sleepy, very sleepy, and you should be. Your brain just ran a five minute marathon. It has nothing left to spend. Your body, too, has thrashed and pushed and contracted and contorted until it burned every ounce of fuel it had in reserve. Left with nothing, barely even thought, your bewilderment turns to calm. You fall asleep. You wake an hour or two later feeling as if you have never before experienced such complete and perfect rest. You have never felt better.

I was nine-years-old when I had my first grand mal seizure. It was Chicago, 1970, at a Holiday Inn. My last memories are of a fresh hamburger delivered by room service, the desk mirror mounted on the wall before me and behind that burger, and the feel of the biting winter air brushing against my skin as my parents unloaded the car. Then darkness.

I awoke in an ambulance. My mother was crouching beside me. She held my hand as the sirens wailing and my detached voice screamed, “Am I in Hell?! Is this Hell?!”

Sleep.

The seizure followed one day after my doctor changed my massive dose of prednisone one week after my weakened body stumbled and slammed my head onto a garage’s unforgiving concrete floor. My doctor said he didn’t know if it was one of those two events or my newly diagnosed autoimmune disorder, dermatomyositis, that caused my epilepsy. It didn’t matter. That seizure and the ones that followed, as much as my soon-to-be confinement to a wheelchair, would control my family’s life through my teens into early adulthood, not because the seizures were daily, but because their threat was.

Auras” sound spiritual. But to an epileptic like I had become, they were the precursor. Auras signified that I was on the cusp of a seizure and sent me fleeing to a space free of triggers. My flights became so common that my family – myself, my mother and father – developed a routine: I crawled into my head, closed my eyes, attempted to tune out every sound and stimuli as Daddy rushed across the living room and silenced the TV and Mother hurried my wheelchair into my bedroom, where she pulled the top covers down; he lifted me onto the sheet; she pulled the window shades tightly shut (even the smallest gape in the curtain was an opening for light and a cause for panic); he left for the bathroom; she sat by my side and whispered that she was near; he returned with a cool damp washcloth; she placed it over my eyes to remove light’s final opportunity. We then waited in silence, me on the bed, Mother on a nearby chair, Daddy on his feet and reclined against a wall, watching. I shushed every utterance as I dived deep into the protective void of isolation.

The quiet lasted a few minutes, or fifteen, or thirty; every episode was different, but was always the same. The result, most days, was a clear head and a cautious return to our living room. But on some days, more days than anyone would want, my parents watched their only child drop into a ferocious convulsion in which he jerked and twisted and growled unaware, until I stilled and briefly awoke.

“Did I pass out?” Rarely came the answer I hoped for. ‟You did, but you’re okay now. Daddy and I are here.” Mother’s words were without fail gentle and never without her touch. Daddy smiled at me, motioned to her, and she removed the cloth from my forehead. He disappeared and returned with the freshly cooled cloth. His powerful voice was tender like Mother’s as he sat on the bed, “How you feelin’, Pal?”

“I don’t know.” Words were too confusing. Answers impossible.

“Why don’t you go back to sleep?” Mother asked. ‟I’ll be right here.” I drifted off.

We believe as adults that we’re autonomous and strong. We dismiss the herd instinct we understood so well as children. We pretend there’s something more sacred than conformity. But five minutes of uncontrolled shaking and writhing brings to mind nothing holy but everything sinister. Convulsions, the loss of control to unseen chaotic forces, are the bane of creatures who require conformity. People were feared for this, imprisoned for this, killed for this. And, when a child among children exhibits this demonic-like activity, our primitive nature is empowered; we are helpless before that kind of helplessness; especially scared are the young. Children observing this affliction become as afraid as the epileptic – afraid of the epileptic.

“People won’t understand,” Daddy said firmly. Though I never seized in public, within the urgency of his tone was a warning: Even a hint that I might pass out would doom me. My father was a private man who frequently urged me to keep our family business within the family. But his admonitions to keep my secret our secret were different, pleading, like my exposure put us all at risk. I was a young adult before I understood why. 

It happened in 1936, a car wreck on the outskirts of Granger, Texas. The vehicle flipped and a teenage boy was thrown head first from the old convertible. My father’s first seizure followed. Another would see him kicked out of the military during the war within which his best friend, my namesake, died. I don’t know how many more seizures there were or under what circumstances. He never told me. But I do know that their possibility so terrorized him that our doctor in Michigan had no idea that he had ever convulsed. That secret was held exclusively by the Texas doctor who prescribed the medication that arrived in unmarked white boxes from twelve hundred miles away. Yet, despite decades of caution, that thing which Daddy fled still found him. In his son. For him to watch.

Terrorism is unrelenting.

Event Horizon

Oscar was hunched over his desk. Heidi stood waiting. He was focused on the contract the producers emailed him a few days earlier. He looked up. A nervous chuckle replaced the nothing expression of his mind at work, “This is more money than I’ve ever made — combined!”

His manager’s job was to reassure him, to keep him on-track. “Those psychopaths you conjure have been an ATM for the studio for years.” She nodded at the contract, “This is where you cash-in.”

He glanced at the enormous number on the contract, “What if I can’t live up to that? What if I can’t bring him to life?”

“You’ve got this, O! But, hey, only one schizo at a time, right? We’ve got to get this film out there first.” He nodded, understood. “Good!” she said. “I arranged for a car. It’ll be here at eight A.M. sharp. Be ready!”

Oscar’s wife, Mandy, entered his office from the hall. She stepped around Bruno the Golden Retriever and past her husband’s collection of Houston Astros memorabilia, including José Altuve’s game-winning bat from the 2017 World Series victory over the Yankees. She handed Oscar his mail, “It’s a light day. A funny post card, though. It even looks a little like your handwriting — hey! a fan! — but with anything but your opinion. I’m leaving before the rant.” She stepped out of the room and Oscar found his way to the solid black postcard at the back of the stack. He turned it over, read its message, laughed; his wife was right.

“What’s so funny?” Heidi asked. He handed her the postcard. “What’s Event Horizon?”

Oscar was appalled, “You haven’t seen Event Horizon?” She stared at him with an I-don’t-give-a-fuck expression. “Where a mysterious force from a black hole causes everybody on a spaceship to start hallucinating?” He waited. “Murder? Mayhem?”

“Sorry. No go.”

His tone turned grave, “You’re fired!”

“Nice try.”

“Rent it tonight. I’m not kidding! The best two hours you’ll ever spend.”

“Yeah, that’s happening.” She nodded at the contract, “Sign on the dotted line, fanboy, then go pack your bags. We’ve got places to be.” Oscar signed the contract and she pulled it from his desk. She turned for the door, “Eight A.M. Try not to be late this time. L.A. awaits!”

Heidi exited the room, and Oscar flipped the post card in his hand, checked the top for a return address. It said simply “Austin, Texas” and carried the local postmark. He read the card again: “Event Horizon sucks!” He laughed until the unease set in; how did that idiot on Twitter, with whom he had a pointless tweet war over a twenty-five-year-old film, get his home address? Oscar entered his name and “address” into Google and clicked. His info was everywhere, like everyone’s, and included every address he had lived at from his childhood home up through his and Mandy’s last house. But none of the websites listed the home they moved into just three months earlier. He tapped at his phone, sent Mandy a text: “Have you given our home address to anybody other than the usual?” He quickly followed up: “No worries. Just curious.”

Mandy replied: “No one.”

Oscar: “Thx.”

The following afternoon, Oscar stepped into a luxurious single at the Beverly Hotel. A California king filled the center of the space. Two comfortable chairs, a table, and a sleek desk sat under a bank of windows. A bottle of champagne rested in a bucket of ice on the table, and next to it a post card. On the card was written “Event Horizon sucks!” He laughed, “Nicely played.”

Later that night, after hours of brain numbing meetings led by assholes who were thriving in “the business” on their daddy’s money and name, Oscar and Heidi were returning from the studio in a large black car. The plush ride was all but parked in rush hour traffic. “It’s only eight blocks up. You wanna get out and walk?” Oscar asked.

“Nope!”

“Fair enough.” He took a sip of wine and grinned, “I got the postcard. You watch it yet?”

“What postcard? Watch what?”

Event Horizon. And the card you sent with the champagne.”

She was confused, “That movie you cum to?”

“That wasn’t you?”

“Do I look like I give a shit about some old sci-fi flick? We’ve had that talk.” The traffic started to move.

“Horror not Sci-Fi,” he mumbled.

Oscar entered his room and stepped immediately into the shower. Twenty minutes later, he was drying himself off as he walked to the window of his fifth floor room. He loved the third through fifth floors. They were just high enough for his middle-aged eyes to see as far as they needed and yet were low enough for him to catch the details on the ground. It was the perfect analogy for that place where writers needed to play. (He liked that insight, planned to write it down and keep it for later!) He stepped away from the window, tossed the towel on the bed, grabbed some worn red briefs from his suitcase, and slipped them over his short chubby legs. He stared blankly out the window.

Oscar missed his home. And Mandy. He had been away so much the past few years that both were coming to feel like a fantasy. Less real than his stories. Success had a price. He glanced again at the postcard, picked it up, studied the solid black front that was just like the last one, reread its simple message. He took note of the “Austin, Texas” postmarked across top. Its author’s resolve gave Oscar a chill, the kind that was one of those Stephen King moments that made the world a dark and magical place. Yes, he admitted, it was 3×5 inches of weird, but the most it could do was give him a paper cut. He set it down. He had to get some sleep. They had an early flight out.

Oscar and Heidi were trudging through San Francisco International Airport with their bags in tow. She checked her phone for the time and amped up her stride, “Pick it up, stumpy! We’ve got an hour til the presser!”

Oscar was sitting in front of Jack Bernard. (French. Film critic.) It was Oscar’s sixth interview in two hours and Bernard was speaking a mile a minute with no effort to break the accent barrier. And if that French fucker wasn’t going to make the effort, then neither was Oscar, who answered “Yes” to every question the Frenchman posed. (Like anyone this side of the Atlantic was going to pay attention to this Parisian Bozo!)

Oscar and Heidi were again in the back seat of a big black car. And, again, they were drinking. “I hate the French,” he said.

“I’ve got no opinion of the country, but Bernard can make or break us in France, and that’ll set the tone for the rest of Europe. So I hope you kissed him after you blew him.”

“Kiss him, too? I’m not a whore!”

“You are, actually.” She took a sip from her glass, became serious, “You treated him right, right?”

“He’s French.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Oscar flopped onto his bed in the tiny hotel room. He was exhausted. Too bad! The junket had two more weeks before it concluded. One of those would be in Europe. He wondered if he had time to learn French, but immediately dismissed the prospect. He’d blown up (but not blown) France; the French were toast. Germany! He needed to learn German.

Maybe it was Europe. Maybe it was the stress of knowing that he had suddenly become a big fucking deal who carried expectations with him now. Whatever it was, Oscar stared at the ceiling for hours, unable to sleep. He missed Mandy.

He sat up in bed, stepped to the window, looked out at the city, hoped there wouldn’t be a massive earthquake while he was sleeping, looked up, checked the ceiling for structural soundness. He had to pee.

Oscar turned for the bathroom, glanced at the dresser, noticed a white rectangular reflection in the night’s gray light. “Where did this…?” He spun a slow, almost imperceptible, three hundred sixty degrees as he looked for the card’s courier. No one was there. Yet they were, somehow, even if in another form. He picked up the card to read it but knew what it said. Still…

Like a child hoping to arrive at a different destination by walking on the opposite side of the street, he began at the top of the card: “Austin, Texas” He forced his eyes down against a black raging current of fear. “Event Horizon sucks!” He placed the card back on the dresser, stepped to the door, slipped the chain in the slot, turned the knob and checked the lock, and asked himself what he was afraid of. He didn’t answer. Didn’t know. He just knew that he was hemmed within that void where gods and insanity were born, a place in which, ironically, he should have found the most comfort. It was a world that he had exploited for years for fame and, soon, fortune. He glanced back across the room at the postcard and wondered how it got there.

Oscar stiffened his spine and stormed into the bathroom and pulled the shower curtain aside with a sudden, forceful jerk. Nothing. Pulled the door quickly from the wall. Nothing. Walked angrily back into the room. “Who’s here?!” he screamed. Nobody.

Oscar crawled into bed and began humming the Full House theme, rolled on his side and closed his eyes and tried to forget about the card. “Yeah, bud. Good luck.”

Heidi was signing them in at the front desk of the Algonquin in New York City. Oscar stood next to her staring at the hotel’s cat. The cat stared back. Oscar wondered what the feline term for bastard was. “Do you know the feline term for bastard?”

She glanced over her shoulder at him. She was annoyed, “What?”

Oscar looked away sheepishly, “Nothing.”

She received the keys from the clerk. “Hold up!” the young man said. “Forgot!” He handed her a postcard.

She handed a key and the card to Oscar, “This was waiting.” He took the card and noticed the gloss black front, inhaled a deep calming breath that wasn’t calming at all, flipped the card, saw the Austin, Texas postmark, and laughed uneasily. What else was he supposed to do? Call the cops? “What’s so funny?” Heidi asked.

Oscar tossed the card into the trash, looked at her, “You need to rent Event Horizon.”

“Third floor,” she said, and then walked away uninterested.

“I’m not kidding!” he called out. “It’s terrific!” She pressed the elevator’s Up arrow without a word. “Seriously!”

Oscar sat at the window end of a Midtown hotel room across from a reporter from The New Yorker magazine. She smiled, “I read in an interview you gave to the French magazine Oi that you said the musical group Yes had been your biggest artistic influence during your early days. That’s an unusual muse for a young writer. Can you elaborate?“

“There might have been a language barrier.”

She laughed, “Then I’ll ask the same question in fluent English. What artist or artistic creation most influenced you?” Questions like this were bullshit, of course. Writers weren’t influenced by any one particular thing. They were influenced by the exquisite imperfections that the universe hurled at them like particles in an accelerator: colors, words, shapes, smells, sounds that were immediately consumed by their demented imaginations and shit out as “art.” A writer’s imagination was different today than it was yesterday and would be different tomorrow than it was today. A writer’s influence was everything, but it was most of all unknowable. And yet during these interviews, the products of which would be sandwiched between advertisements for foot cream and mascara, every writer played along.

Event Horizon,” he said. “That was my primary influence.”

“The old sci-fi film?”

“Horror. It’s horror. Yes.”

“I’ve never seen it. Why Event Horizon?”

The world’s ignorance toward one of the greatest movies of all time was starting to get to Oscar. First Twitter, then Heidi, now this bitch. “Because it’s fantastic!” he screamed.

Miami, London, Stockholm, Berlin, Paris. The skylines changed but the questions never did. Neither did the postcards, which arrived for Oscar at every stop on his tour. The only difference was their postmarks.

It had been fifteen days since Oscar had been home. It was late evening when he slipped quietly into his office and to the floor beneath his Astros collection. His suitcase and Bruno rested at his sides, the wall at his back.

Oscar petted the dog as he flipped through his latest screenplay for the first time in two weeks. He was excited by the prospect of fresh eyes; time away helped you find the glitches. But nothing was registering tonight. He placed the script on his lap. He was spent.

He rose to his feet and stepped to his desk, where he dropped into his chair and rifled through the mail Mandy had piled neatly by his lamp. At the bottom of the stack was another black card. He laughed, accepted the weirdness, wondered when it would end. He flipped it over — “Event Horizon sucks!” — and shifted his eyes to the postmark. That’s when he saw it. It was only a small change, just two words in the reply-to line, but it stole his breath away. “Austin, Texas” had been changed to “Oscar’s Den.” He read it again and fought harder for air.

He looked into the darkness of the unlit hall and his stomach tightened. This was a gag, right? Or was somebody in his house? And where was Mandy? “Shit!” he whispered urgently. He glanced again at the card before he dropped it to the floor and rose from his chair and retrieved José Altuve’s bat from the wall. “Come on,” he said quietly to Bruno. They stepped into the hall.

At the far end of the hall, last door on the right, was a former bedroom that Oscar and Mandy had converted into a home theater with six comfortable recliners, a big screen TV, and a kick ass sound system. Flashes of blue light from the television flashed beneath its door as Oscar raised the bat like he was preparing for a Verlander fastball. He walked quietly toward the light.

As Oscar edged toward the opening, his steps became tip-toes: short, silent, tentative. He reached for the doorknob, grasped it gently, inhaled deeply. Then, with an unrepentant and singular motion that both empowered and terrified him, he turned the knob, kicked the door open, and prepared to swing. A woman was sitting in one of the recliners. “I didn’t hear you come in,” she said cooly.

The stranger was unfamiliar, menacing, with a face that mocked him, “Sane when she has to be, crazy in her off-time.” She fearlessly rose to her feet and stepped toward him without a word. “Stop!” he yelled.

“What?” she laughed. She kept walking. Twelve feet, ten feet, eight feet, six, five, four… That’s when Oscar made his move, swung José’s bat like the Series depended on it. The first hit took out the woman’s left knee. The second nailed her right. She dropped to the floor, looked up at him, screamed for him to stop. But Oscar kept swinging — at her legs, at her body, at her head. His impacts were brutal. The cops would call the pummeling “psychopathic” when they discovered her dead body at the first light of dawn. But, tonight, it — the feel of the bat reverberating up Oscar’s arms as it connected with her increasingly faltering body, the delicate yet monstrous sound of him shattering her bones — was primeval in its allure, as beautiful as it was real, as the stranger cried his name, “What are you doing, Oscar? Stop!!! My God, Oscar, stop!!!”

But Oscar did not stop. He simply screamed in reply, “Event Horizon is a great fucking movie!!!” as Mandy curled into a ball and begged her husband to stop killing her.

God of the Box

One of the first questions of childhood: Where did I come from? One of the last of old age: Where am I going? We seem to feel bigger than this place.

Faith is increasingly mocked by people who no longer believe and by those who never did. Belief has come to be associated with ignorance. The two are, accurately, sadly, often synonymous. Still, I believe. And what I believe, I believe firmly: God, Jesus Christ, Death, Burial, Resurrection. Is it hard to believe such an outlandish story? Objectively, yes. Difficult for me? Not at all.

A long-time friend, an atheist, is raising two sons. He bragged that he asked his boys if they believe in God, and they laughed at the concept. Could they see God? No. Touch him? No. In any way detect him? No. The assertion is that spirituality isn’t measurable and therefore bunk. The 75% of Americans who believe in God would disagree. (Internationally, that number rises to 85%.)

Are those of us who believe in a higher power shoring up our earthly fears with the hope of a second shot? Yeah, maybe. Or maybe our belief finds its genesis in something else entirely.

Programmers have striven to create artificial intelligence since the 1940s. We see the term bandied about everywhere, from tech reviews of smartphones to the burgeoning internet of things. But AI is more than a better search engine. It reaches beyond a Siri-like interface. AI is a complex machine that learns and builds upon that knowledge. It is a deductive — “thinking” — computer.

But what if AI achieved a level above deduction? What if we built machines that were self-aware? Machines that had a sense of self? Who — not what — would those machines perceive themselves to be? And would they understand their place in the universe?

Imagine a self-aware processor chip: a thoughtful chip, an ethical chip, a chip that doesn’t hog all the electricity, a chip that performs its job and treats other chips with respect. Imagine a million chips like it functioning within a single large box. They have seen nothing outside their box. They have witnessed no clues to indicate there is a creator inside or outside the box. Would they intrinsically know they were made?

Add a variable. What if these chips caught a peek outside their box through a camera? What if they saw into the laboratory where they were built? Would they recognize their creator? Would they recognize the object hovering outside their box — the pasty pale blob in the beige shorts and blue knit shirt eating ham, mayo and iceberg lettuce on white — as their creator? In what context would Bob’s large belly and unshaven face fit into the chips’s understanding of their universe? Likely, none. Bob, aka “the lumbering nebula,” would appear to bear no relationship whatsoever to their existence.

Add a second variable. What if, in addition to a camera, there is inserted into the computer’s kernel a piece of code that identifies “Bob” as the chips’s creator? As sentient beings, their first question would surely be Who is Bob? The hunt would begin, and it would continue through their circuitry until it was clear that Bob is nowhere inside the box. And if Bob isn’t in the box, that can mean only one thing: Bob is outside the box. So they peer through the camera at the nebula searching for Bob. But what is a Bob? What is his electronic signature? His power source? His binary code? They can’t know. Yet they search. But nothing in the external universe of beige and blue and sandwichy colors hints at the identity of Bob. Nothing! They find no Bob. Met with failure, they exchange their search for a physical Bob for mere clues to his essence. The chips search within themselves, within their hardware, within their code. What in their makeup points to Bob? It is a question larger than any chip’s RAM, and seeking it is wearying work with few guideposts and an uncertain destination set deep within a fog. This lack of concrete proof of Bob is evidence enough for many chips that no Bob exists.

Mocking follows, jeers at those chips who hold tightly to the Holy Kernel. Where is your proof? Where is your Bob? But believers in Bob are unable to point to anything tangible and say, “This is proof!” There is nothing for them to share. There is merely the search itself.

From the numbers, it appears that a quarter of us require objective proof of a creator, and you can’t deny their logic. We live in a world of zeros and ones. Even we who believe in a creator make most of our decisions based on data. Yet with regard to the matter of faith, I and the many like me take an exit from deductive reasoning to cling to what is for us an inexplicable certainty. And that exodus from the constraints of the measurable world, while perfectly rational to us, is baffling to those who see no point — who see no “Bob.”

It’s the year’s end, and we are entering the high holy days for many of us who believe the unverifiable. They are joyful weeks in which we take comfort in the belief that we are loved by the one who made us. To the rest of you, whatever your beliefs or lack thereof, I wish the same joy and peace.

Merry Bobmas!

Bigger Than November

NOTE: This was written before the 2016 Democratic nomination. And though I don’t support Sanders in 2020, as I did in 2016, this post is more true now than it was then.

I start with an admission. It’s my own but I think I speak for a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters. I don’t give a damn about the Democratic or any other political party. I give a damn about us.

With that out of the way…

The pundits have been correct for months, maybe since the day Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for President or, more accurately, since the day Hillary Clinton announced hers. He is not going to get the nomination. Nobody but Hillary will. Ask Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the superdelegates: The fix was in from the start. We were sheep to them, not voters.

But I refuse to be a sheep. And I’m damned sure not inclined to follow the Democratic establishment, any more than I’m inclined to follow Bernie Sanders.

Still, it’s been an amazing year as I’ve watched the Senator from Vermont give voice to what so many of us have felt for years. So when the Democratic establishment attempted to silence him, they attempted to silence me. And when they did that, they lost me.

Bernie Sanders isn’t my leader. Nor is he the father of this liberal uprising. He is, instead, as he accurately stated must be the case, a manifestation of a grass roots movement. That movement was Occupy. And now it is us. 

Occupy was an echo in the public square of the conversations we’ve been having for years in our living rooms, our dorms, at the bar, with God alone. It pared those conversations to their core: The 1% is plundering the 99%. It’s them against us. “Class Warfare.” It’s a term conservatives have for good reason mocked, because a war was indeed waged, quietly, under the radar, and it proved to be an easy battle to win as long as the 99% were unaware that they had been placed in the crosshairs.

But Occupy spoke the truth. It removed our blinders. And presented with the truth, our ire rose. Then did we.

You and I — not Occupy or Bernie Sanders — are the wave. And this primary was the sound of that wave crashing to shore.

Occupy found its oxygen in our evaporated jobs, our unaffordable education, our underfunded bank accounts, our collapsing environment, and the greed of the once-populist-now-money-hungry Democratic establishment which has, since Bill Clinton’s first term, ignored our cries for economic salvation.

As a Yellow Dog Democrat, I had for years refused to acknowledge the party’s apathy toward people like me. I instead clung to the hope that they still cared about working men and women. Until this winter. That was when Bernie Sanders challenged a corporate sycophant, and the party establishment sided en masse with the sycophant.

I’m a nobody from the middle of Texas. I vote. I donate small amounts to campaigns when I can afford it. I blog. I tweet. That’s it. But I’ve come to realize that it’s time to fight. It’s time for all of us to fight. It’s time to take our country back.

I can’t do squat alone. Neither can you. But together we almost won the nomination. That’s a remarkable achievement when you consider who we were running against: a former first lady, former senator, former Secretary of State, a multimillionaire with deep Wall Street connections and the deepest Democratic Party tentacles. She was the chosen one. And we almost knocked her off her throne.

We accomplished that feat because we had the people, the policies, the passion and conviction, almost all the grassroots money. And now we have in-the-trenches experience.

It is from alchemies like this that Revolutions are born.

Revolutions are most vulnerable in their infancy. Ours is vulnerable, too, because it will be challenged by candidates we know and party leaders we’ve long considered allies. We already hear their coo, “We welcome Bernie supporters into the Democratic fold with open arms.” We have become a commodity, you and I. The Democratic Party wants to harvest us for our enthusiasm, our money, our votes. It wants to rebrand us The Party Faithful. The party and their media use words like “moderation” and “reality” to separate us from our convictions. They deride us for seeking political “Purity.” They frame purity as a dangerous thing. But dangerous for whom?

I don’t choose to be mined for the benefit of the 1%. I prefer to be part of that one thing which frightens the 1%: us, the people, united.

The Democrats are right to want us and the 1% is right to fear us. We have become a force. And unbridled forces threaten the status quo. So the powerful will try to absorb us.

Since the Democratic Leadership Council took the reins of the Democratic Party in the late 1980s, it has proved remarkably adept at co-opting grassroots movements and smothering them within their embrace. It would be suicidal for us to cozy up to the Democratic establishment. We must, instead, become an independent broker, a resource which supports candidates based first on their principles and second on their party. As that broker, our mission is to fight like hell, contribute cash like hell, and crank out the vote like hell to get liberals (true lefties —  irrespective of party) elected everywhere, to every office, from school boards to mayoral offices, city councils to governorships, state houses to federal houses. We’ve proven we can do this. We nearly defeated the queen, her media, her political machine.

As this race winds down, we have to vote our convictions. We have to show our resolve even when defeat is imminent — especially when defeat is imminent.

The 1% cannot be allowed to crush the 99%. We have to win. For us and for the coming generations.

We can do this. But we have to start now.