We ARE the People

| March / April 2006

Want to change the world? Instead of marching on Washington, take a stroll across the street

While we were putting together this package on democracy, a friend who was watching the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Judge Samuel Alito called to register her opinion of the U.S. Senate, an increasingly reactive, rudderless body overrun by men and women who are as out of touch as they are interested in self-aggrandizement and self-preservation. "Who are these people?" she raged. "None of them seem to be representing you, me, or anyone else."

The answer, of course and unfortunately, is that "these people" do represent us, in some sense: We sent them to Washington, and only we have the power to replace them. And yet we celebrated when, in 2004, only 60 percent of eligible voters -- an unusually high number -- showed up at the polls. One reason for our malaise is that the ubiquitous pundits masquerading as journalists have convinced Americans that they are so bitterly divided, so red or blue in the face, that bothering to get involved is an exercise in futility. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy: More people check out, elected officials cater to the media-saturated extremes, and those of us clawing to hold on to hope are reduced to shouting at the TV.

3/17/2009 12:45:56 PM

It's important that people talk to each other. That is the only way we can identify our common interests and our common problems. It is the only way we can find and implement common solutions. Democracy can't work without it. Those pushing an extreme capitalist agenda have been trying to convince us for years that people collaborating to achieve a common goal is somehow misguided. They'd like us to believe that government is inefficient and ineffective. Only private enterprise can be successful. What rubbish! What is government in a democracy if it is not people coming together to collaborate on common goals and to solve common problems? We won't make progress until we start talking to each other again. To work together, we have to talk to each other. We have to understand what we need to do and how each of us can contribute. Go out and talk to your neighbours.

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