Government is Corrupt. What Would you Have People Do?
That’s what Tom said and asked last night. He’s right: government is corrupt. So would I have people do?
I would have people strain and stretch and TRY, and not just through voting, but through organized social movement activity. Politics is no more and no less than people deciding what is to be done. Sometimes the definition of which people are included in “people deciding” is smaller, and sometimes it’s larger.
Let’s put the idea that everything’s getting worse into some perspective.
Before the 1990s, an average citizen couldn’t look up campaign contributions (or check on bills, for that matter) except by walking into an office. The stories of corruption just weren’t told as often because only professionals could uncover them.
Before the 1970s, no campaign contributions had to be reported at all. Period.
Before the 1900s, there weren’t any presidential primaries. The parties just picked the presidential candidates, period.
My grandmother and grandfather were born at a time when women were utterly disenfranchised.
Before the 1860s nominally and before the 1960s practically, the vast majority of black people could not vote in this country. In my great-grandparents’ youth, they were owned.
You want to talk corruption and the little people being excluded? These historical levels of corruption and exclusion make today’s levels of corruption look trivial… and IT GOT BETTER. It got better not primarily because people just voted, but because when they learned what was going on and thought about it and talked about it they got angry enough to organize and push for change. I know that for many people Barack Obama has spoiled the taste of change and hope by capitalizing them, adhering them to his personality and then forgetting about the words after taking office. But look at those words again and consider them. I have hope that change for the better is possible because I know it’s gotten better after worse conditions before. In history, change for the better has come when people aren’t just angry about things, but when they have hope that things can get better, and…
… and the last bit that’s needed is organization. It’s no good if one person is hopey and changey all by themselves. People have to learn about what’s going on, not just to get angry, but to coordinate. We write here to help people learn about what’s going on, and we open comments to learn from others about what’s going on, too. The desire to spread the word in our little way is why we post notices of protests, and why we go protest, too.
What we’re doing here at Irregular Times is not even close to enough to change things. I know that. What people are doing as individuals and small groups across the country isn’t enough. It really frustrates me to see that people are too apathetic right now for change to come; now appears not to be the time. But it’s comforting to me to remember that through history there’s never been a flag waved with big red letters declaring, “THIS IS WHEN THINGS START TO CHANGE” — all those watershed moments are recognized after the fact. The moment when people begin to accumulate momentum for a big wave of positive change in this country could come at any time, and that moment will not come when a fairy waves her magic wand. That moment will come when enough people are pushing for change that things begin to move in the right direction. Nothing will make the moment come but people pushing.
So come on: get out and push.