America preaches democracy, meritocracy, and fairness. They say anyone who works hard has equal access to success. It turns out that is not the case.
Hillary Clinton was the most qualified candidate running in the 2016 election, bar none. Several million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than they did for Donald Trump. And yet she lost the electoral college. Donald Trump did everything humanly possible to lose the election, yet he won.
Millions of Americans called their Senators imploring that they do not confirm Nancy DeVos. Who is Nancy DeVos? She is a wealthy Michigan politico who spends her days lobbying Congress to dismantle the public school system and install a “voucher system” in its place.
Over the last few days, many of us have been seeking out candidates to run for our local school board. The current board is an ALEC driven board that recently installed the failed Colorado Douglas County, Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen. Most of the district’s parents were against the appointment. Many parents and students rallied and conducted several well-designed protests at the district’s headquarters. They attended the school board meetings. They spoke. They made their points with researched data. But the board ignored them and put the district under the control of someone who does not have the best interest of public schools at hand.
America is at a crossroads. On issue after issue, Americans are deceived by politicians not honoring their promises or effecting their will. The calls, emails, faxes and protests do not seem to make a difference. Is it all for naught? It is all for naught if we don’t change the paradigm.
Currently, we get on Facebook, we air out our grievances, all of us find like-minded people, and we post and share memes. That is a good thing. But it is not enough.
We go into the streets, rally and shout for a few days or a few weeks if we are lucky. Again, that is a good thing. But it is not enough.
We get on the phone and call our political representatives en masse; we send them faxes and emails; another good thing. But again, that is not enough.
While politicians used to be somewhat scared of those activities, especially done in parallel, they are virtually immune now because they are still of the belief that they can wait it out. In a most general case, they would be right.
Is there anything different now than before? Functionally? No. Operationally? We do not know yet. And it is that “WE DON’T KNOW YET” that we must explore.
Hillary Clinton lost the electoral college, an arcane constitutional aberration, three months ago. And yet organizations that are working to reform or eliminate the Electoral College are soon forgotten a few months after the election, a normalization process that is tantamount to metastasizing cancer in our democracy.
Nancy DeVos is now the Education Secretary. Her aim is to destroy public education and create a private education model. There are dozens of ALEC-inspired bills in state houses that need redress which would somewhat mitigate or slow down the effect of federal policies.
David Frum, a conservative that is no friend to liberal causes wrote the piece titled “What Effective Protest Could Look Like” that was somewhat condescending to progressives but which had a few good points. The following passage is worth noting.
Protests can be powerful. Just this past week, the Romanian government withdrew a law intended to protect high-level corruption in the face of mass demonstrations in the streets of Bucharest. Big mobilizations send the message politicians most fear to hear: “A lot of us are mad at you.” That message resounds especially forcefully in the ears of Trump, so obsessed with the massive popular vote tally against him.
But bodies in the street represent only potential power, not actual power. Even the largest rally must sooner or later disassemble and return home. What happens after that? The difference between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party was that only the second movement translated the energy and excitement of its early mass meetings into steady organizational work aimed at winning elections.
In other words, bodies in the streets represent the possibility. We must use those times when we have people in the streets to inform and encourage the next steps. We must use those times to help Americans understand that they are worthy of which they demand.
Like many other school districts around the country, my school district is currently in the hands of a Right Wing ALEC-driven board and superintendent. Over the last few weeks, Republicans and Democrats alike in the town have been attempting to field candidates that support public schools in rhetoric and deeds. Many parents who protested the board’s installation of the ALEC-inspired superintendent, felt unqualified to run because they did not have PhDs and Masters; and henceforth this reality check. Politicians do not need to be experts, they need to understand the problems of the masses, and they need the ability to sanction the help of experts to accomplish the tasks. DEGREE NOT REQUIRED.
When we rally and protest, we must convince and empower every citizen that they are the solution and that the solution must be that some of them step up to be candidates. We must feed organizations like Brand New Congress and OurRevolution to ensure that we support candidates in primaries and the general elections who will challenge the status quo. Most importantly we must embed in everyone’s psyche, that the change we want, that the change we must have must begin and end with every single one of us being a material part of the solution.