President Obama admonishes us all to engage
President Obama appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He jokingly effected an executive order prohibiting Jon Stewart from leaving the show. Many wish that was an executive order with teeth. Unfortunately it is just a joke.
President Obama gave a prescient message however. He was given the entire half hour. He only needed two minutes to leave the most important message. It is the message that many have been trying to catheterize in the psyche of poor and middle-class America.
"The one thing I know," said President Obama. "As I enter into the last year of my presidency, is that the country is filled with good and decent people. And there is a sense of common purpose on the neighborhood level, and in the school, and in the workplace. That dissipates the further up it goes because all the money, because all the filters, and all the polarizing that takes place in terms of how our politics is shaped. But the only way to prevent that is by people getting involved. And it doesn't take that much. I guarantee you if people feel strongly about making sure that Iran doesn't get a nuclear weapon without us going to war, and that is expressed to Congress then people would believe in that. And the same is true on every single issue. If people are engaged, eventually the political system responds despite the money, despite the lobbyists. It still responds."
It does not matter how much money is thrown at politicians. If the grassroots tools are used effectively to engage citizens truthfully people become receptive and engaged. If grassroots tools are used not to tell misled citizens that they are stupid, but to gain their confidence and trust, lobbyists and money simply become another small cog in the wheel instead of the wheel itself.
So let's live by the motto, Political engagement should be a requirement for citizenship.