Looks familiar, doesn’t it!
And well it should! Whether Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian, Tea-Party conservative, Occupy liberal – or somewhere in between – all of us witness the above almost daily…and almost all feel plenty of unease about tomorrow. Democracy can at times feel unwieldy…it’s true…but it is how We, the People participate in our political system, what the ancient Greeks referred to as the “management of the affairs of the city.” Today we find our role in our democracy being snuffed out, crushed by the influences of extraordinary sums of money, unchecked corporations and their powerful lobbyists, and – yes – even our own political parties.
The tug-of-war above?
The cartoon has it right. We’re losing and losing badly. And it is a certainty that if We, the People don’t come together – to fight and win against big money, big corporations, political parties and the power they wield, we will – make no mistake – lose our democracy!
In the midst of the brutal tensions between political parties, economic classes, races, unions, environmentalists, science deniers, etc. we are, after all else, more alike than we are different. We want to feel safe as we walk our neighborhoods; we want enough to eat, a clean safe place to sleep at night, education for our children, access to medical care when we’re sick or infirm. And for those benefits, we’re more that willing to tackle a job that provides sufficient income to take care of basic needs.
Where is that white knight when you need him?
We all HOPE someone or something will intervene – a different president, a new congresswoman or senator, a magic fix to the world economy, a figurative shining knight on a powerful steed. Then we’d surely live happily ever after and without a need to get our hands dirty.
The plain truth is this: as citizens of this land it is our responsibility – to be knowledgeable and intelligent, in touch with what is happening around us – every day. It is our responsibility to stand up, to speak out with clarity, not in hate and arrogance and ignorance. It is our responsibility to elect smart, creative, honest individuals who care about others, about inclusion, about the future, and who in most cases will make better decisions than those driven by greed, corruption, narrow ideology, religion, or political strategy.
It starts with the ruse that your voice and vote count. In truth, through a contrivance known as Gerrymandering, the two major political parties – by manipulating voting district boundaries – divide voting constituencies so that their candidates cannot lose. Instead of voters selecting their representatives, the political parties select their voters! They carefully screen out those who don’t support them.
Gerrymandering isn’t new. It was first reported in the Boston Gazette on March 26, 1812. The word emerged when Massachusetts state senate election districts were redrawn, under then-governor Elbridge Gerry, to benefit his Democratic-Republican Party. Once the mapping was complete, one of the contorted districts was said to resemble the shape of a salamander, hence the derivation of the term “Gerrymander.”
And then comes the money…
It buys access to your elected representatives – those sworn to represent you and me – both when they run for office and once they are elected. It buys the propaganda you watch on TV, listen to on the radio, and read on your iPhone. It buys the election of those who don’t care about democracy or about We, the people. It buys bad air, unsafe food, toxic water. It buys war, ineffective public education. It buys the lobbyists for chemical companies, the fossil fuel industry, and for big banks. It buys votes and politicians and judges. And it keeps on buying them.
Suppose we redraw the scenario to look like this?
Now we’re talking turkey! Would this not warm your heart? Would it not cause a new-found belief in democracy of, by, and for the People?
Can we get there? Can We, the People win this tug-of-war?
Yes, absolutely…but YOU must believe in your own awesome power. Author Alice Walker says, “The most common way people give up power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Don’t fall into that trap! YOU COUNT! But only if you speak out! Stop hoping someone else is going to make the world work. It’s YOUR DEMOCRACY!
- Do your homework – read, watch, listen, study, question. Be a thoughtful skeptic; keep your eye on the pea beneath the shell. Get together with others, share views, ideas, vision…but do so with intent to understand, to find solutions. Be willing to make people uncomfortable, but don’t humiliate them. They are the next convert in the line. Give them space to consider your discussion.
- Learn to see the truth, be courageous enough to speak it, passionate enough to communicate your heart. Write & speak with clarity & intent, common sense, integrity, honesty, and humility.
- Commit to being an activist, to encourage others to think differently (about their own conditions). Protest to show your displeasure and/or indignation…at town halls, politician’s offices, at state & national capitals. And know this — without lots & lots of us in the streets, NOTHING will change!
- Stand together – for that which is right & fair, not because something has a future capacity to make money.
- Care passionately about tomorrow, even if you won’t be here. Don’t expect that you will see the END, but fervently believe that everything you do is a necessary step in the journey.
- Do it today! Tomorrow will be too late. If you don’t fight for what is just and right, you deserve what you’ll get!