It finally struck me the other day. A co-worker was a bit agog that I actually KNOW a sitting U.S. Senator, I worked for the guy when he was Attorney General of Rhode Island. So far as I’m concerned, Sheldon Whitehouse is righteous Senator and I’m glad he’s in Washington.
But then I thought back, I am what one would call politically active. Not holding up signs, oh wait, I’ve done that. Damn, I’ve made phone calls, stuffed envelopes, canvassed door to door, emailed my state rep and senators, and the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate, essentially calling them hateful and bigoted assholes.
I’ve testified at a hearing for marriage equality, I’ve created a database of all judicial committee members with their full contact information and shared it with Marriage Equality Rhode Island.
I do this because I am of the firm belief that the politicians should be there to do OUR bidding, not that of the corporations. Can’t remember where I’d seen this but someone compared the U.S. political system to those in France and Germany. They said that in the European countries, governments were actually afraid of the people whereas in the U.S. people were afraid of the government.
My hope is that in my lifetime we see politicians in the U.S. scared of we the people and the enormous force that we can generate for political change.
Look at the Obama campaign, it’s heavily branded, and very well managed. The people on the campaign believe in their candidate and to me that’s a wonderful thing. Look at the fund raising. The vast majority of his donors gave < $200. Then look at McCain and who funded his campaign and the answer is the big oil, banking, and other industries. Who would you rather have, a puppet of big business or a true leader like Obama?
What I find interesting about the Obama campaign is it has used a populist message to tap into the power of the zeitgeist.
For many years I would disaffiliate when I left the polls on primary day but this year I just let it slide. I did it because for the first time in my life, I have some faith in the Democratic party. I still abhor the fact that both parties get a majority of their funding from big business, but I think we may be on the cusp of a major change
What I find interesting is here in little Rhode Island they’re expecting between 500,000 and 700,000 people to vote this election. And most of those people, registered Democrats. Consider RI’s population hovers around a million people. Of that million I’d say maybe 15% are kids who can’t vote so we’re left with 850,000 people. Say 5% of that total cant’ vote because they aren’t citizens, we’re left with 807,500 people. If we get 700,000 votes that means that voter turnout would be close to 90%!
I hope that we’re entered an age of the more politically conscious citizen. But we still have an awful lot of distraction out there. We need everyone to get involved.
Read an interesting bit a couple weeks ago, it said that if newspapers want to survive they have to get hyper-local. Our local rag, the Providence Journal needs to park a dozen or more reporters at the State House.
Then media won’t be a distraction anymore, it’ll be informative. But I fear that the owners of the media can’t see the forest for the trees, and so they’ll just continue down the path of ruin until they spontaneously combust.
As a people we need to dig in, we need to become more fully a part of the political discourse and continuum. Because if we don’t we have no control over our own lives.
Start off gently, write a letter to the editor. Email, phone or visit your state representative and then go up a level to the federal representatives. Participate in a political campaign, donate money to one. Take control.