Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Birth of Democracy

If we can actually get through the next few years intact, we ultimately should thank those who are trying to bring Democracy to her knees for waking us up and helping her to stand on her own two feet again. There’s an exciting feeling in the air that people are figuring out that reading the news with an eye to being informed so they can act is much better than reading it and shaking their heads and clucking their tongues. That going to neighborhood meetings with folks prepared to show up at their Representative’s office and voice their concern is what democracy should actually look and feel and taste like. That reading the original Constitution and understanding how decisions are made is something we all should be trained in and strongly encouraged to exercise.

The folks that figured this out are mostly the Tea Party People and that’s precisely how we got to where we are. So why can’t the folks actually concerned about protecting equal rights and ensuring representation for all Americans do the same? Why leave it all to the people who just want to protect a privilege they mostly didn’t earn and deserve?

So there is an exciting mobilization of people who are taking the Wobblies’ advice—“Don’t mourn. Organize!” —seriously. No one knows what impact it will ultimately have in the face of big money and dark money and corporate money. But hey, after the Muslim ban fiasco, the ACLU received $24 million in donations within a couple of days! We may not have most of the billionaires on our side, but we have lots of us giving a little money. And hey, movie stars and sports stars and rock stars mostly aghast at what’s going down, consider donating a larger portion of your overblown salaries. We’ll like your movies, games and songs even more!

I admit that I’m one of the guilty ones. When Obama was elected, that should have been the time we re-doubled our efforts to keep the moral arc swinging toward justice. Instead we relaxed and thought he could take care of it. After all, politics is hard work and not the most fun way to spend one’s day. But it’s never too late to have a happy Democracy and so I write this to encourage others (and myself) to get involved like you never have before. My wife has been going to Indivisible Meetings in her retirement and it’s much more satisfying and important than playing golf.

And then of course the schools, educating children as to what it actually means to be a participating member of a democratic society. We needn’t worry about mixing that dirty word “politics” with school’s illusionary “neutral” stand. All we need to do is encourage children at appropriate ages to decide which issues are important to them and then do the actual research to be adequately informed. Then to write or call or show up at the office of their representative. Note we’re not telling them which issue or which side of the issue we think they should stand on. But we are insisting that they be properly informed from multiple viewpoints and justify their points of view with real facts and the intention of aligning them with their values. That’s the way democracy is supposed to work. “My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge” is not acceptable in a school setting—or any setting.

So in a dark time when there’s every reason to be despondent beyond hope’s reach, I feel more encouraged than ever. Won’t you join me?

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