May. 14th, 2004

keryx: (Default)
I've read a couple of fellow liberals' journal postings lately about how they're going to fight fight fight against W this year and, if they still don't win, they might just pack it in for Canada.

With all due respect for those folks, that's a coward's way.

This country is built on debate. It's a child of the Enlightenment, of disillusionment with church-run states and state-run churches, of argument, of out-on-a-limb science and philosophy and theory. It's kindof an experiment.

And while we don't need to know or care what the country was founded for (and if anyone else tells me what Jefferson thought as if that's what I'm supposed to think, I'll slap them), we ought to remember that we have a history of change and fighting and revolution behind us. And probably in front of us, too.

There are major problems with the How Things Are in the US today. There are also solutions to those problems. Those solutions depend on the changes of individual people, which become the changes of groups, which become the changes of a country. This is not overnight change I'm talking about.

But if you feel strongly enough about something, the way to effect it is to change 100 other people's minds. To make them feel as strongly as you do, strongly enough to change 10,000 other people's minds.

If you finally got off your ass and started caring about politics this year, or last year, or four years ago, you need to understand that your opinions can change in that span of time, but the opinions of a whole country are slower to mobilize. The most important thing you can do as a citizen is push other people off their asses and into caring - even if they're on the other side of the issue. Hell, especially if they're on another side!

What does democracy look like?

It looks like everyone who can contribute to the politics of decision-making actually doing so. It does not look like only 30-40% of eligible voters showing up. It looks like all sides showing up, fighting it out, and coming up with a compromise.

If you as a liberal convince 100 people to vote this year, even if your candidates don't win, you've pushed us 100 people closer to democracy. If you don't like the pace of social and political change, work on convincing 10,000, or 100,000.

It takes courage to make those demands of other people. It takes constant energy to mobilize yourself and others. It takes even more courage to do those things in a social climate that tends to apathy and handing off your decision-making to others. It is much easier to withdraw into complaint. And it's much colder in Canada.

Yes, it will suck if we lose the presidential election this year.

But there are Congressional elections, too. There are state and local folk. There are thousands of other people who make decisions that could change the How Things Are. All of those people combined are more important than one more guy in a white house.

And all too often, more than half of the people eligible to select those people - and the guy in the white house - don't show up for the fight.

If we lose the presidential election this year, don't stalk off in a melodramatic huff. Explain to a fourteen-year-old why it sucks. Show her how to register to vote. Give her a feminist book. Take her out to vandalize "voting is for old people" t-shirts. ;)

Because we are a good country. And we are not being represented when half of us don't even vote. And we will be even less represented if you disengage.

Build more activists. Make an army of voters. Don't be a coward.

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