Across demographics and a cross party lines Americans are increasingly aware that something is not quite right with the way things are run in our country. They see their governments stolen from them by rich elites who ship jobs over seas, then condemn folks for not having a job. They watch as the only real reform in our health care system for years, while an improvement, is also a big hand out to the for-profit health insurance industry. We are asked to spend trillions of dollars on adventurist wars while the young men and women who risk their lives for us are forgotten after they can no longer serve. While we may disagree on the causes and the solutions, most of us agree America has gone astray. Too few of us, however, step up to do anything about it.
I know, I know, you are thinking “but Christine, you have already beaten us over the head with this.” It is true, I have. I will continue to do so as long as I hear people kvetching about the state of things who cannot be bothered to write a letter or help out with a measly $30 a year for people who fight for them. We claim to be proud of our participatory democracy but forget so often to participate, so yeah, your Auntie Christine is going to scold you over it. Them’s the breaks and I’ve told you how to change it.
Really though, I want to talk today about one of the most obvious ways you can change things. It is an idea most of us do not allow ourselves to think about but it is an important one and easily the best way to shake things up. It is the notion that really puts the “participate” in “participatory democracy” yet so often we leave that activity to the people we trust the least for it. What so many of us never consider, is that we should run for office ourselves.
It is a radical plan, I know, though really it should not be. Our government is supposed to be “for the people, of the people, and by the people” yet we are so ready to forget that we are the people. Why shouldn’t you run? What makes your local lawyers and businessmen any better than you when it comes to these kind of things? Do you really believe they are smarter than you? I kind of doubt that, other wise, why would folks be complaining about them so much? No, you’ve got it in you to run, whether you realize it or not.
We need folks to do this, to understand that to take the power back we have to literally do just that. We need to put more regular folk into elected positions. It is easy to complain that the guys in Albany, Austin, Little Rock, and Lincoln don’t get us, but how are they supposed to when they all come from the same job pool, never mind race, sex and religion? You want to be represented, then get out and represent yourself.
It won’t be easy, obviously. You need to have money, but then that’s what friends and family are for. If you cannot get those closest to you to help you out enough to get started, how can you expect those groups that you want to fight for to have faith in you? So yeah, bite that particular bullet. Then risk the attacks on your person. Put the people closest to you in the spot light. Work the long hours, have every decision scrutinized, listen to a hundred or more people tell you should and should not do (oh, and none of them agree with each other) and do all that knowing you still might lose.
It sounds scary, and maybe, just a little, I am trying to scare off those who do not have the strength for it. If you can’t go the full bout, maybe you should stay away. Even scarier, though, than the above paragraph, are the consequences if no one is willing to do it. We say we want someone to fight for us, but why should they when we are unwilling to fight for ourselves? So if you think, even a little, you want to get into it, step into the ring and start swinging. You may just find yourself knocking that giant out.
- Leadership: Change vs. Wishful Thought (kenyafricanview.wordpress.com)
- Three Things Activists in the Office Can Learn from the Street (yesmagazine.org)
- Bernie Sanders: Americans Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils (readersupportednews.org)
- ‘I Was Sarah Palin’s Road Kill’ (salon.com)