this is a good country, dammit.
May 14, 2004 10:05 AM

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 another side of your 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.

[cross-posted to livejournal]

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your wicked thoughts

It is not THAT much colder in Canada from where I live.

But of course, you're right. I'd just given myself a frustration headache from writing about prisoner abuse, too. This is a good reminder to go pick up the 10 for Change ball again.

these are the thoughts of house9 on May 14, 2004 07:18 PM

I have to admit that during my most frustrated moments I entertain the "Screw this I'm going to Canada" thoughts, but you're right. We have to stay and fight and encourage others to fight with us.

these are the thoughts of Julie on May 15, 2004 12:00 AM

The people who treaten to leave the country
may be serious, but they are not committed. It was a false promise when Baldwin made it, and it is false when your friends make it. It is to easy to justify a change of mind. I recommend that you call them on this. Test their metal, so to speak.

You know I almost totally disagree with your goals, but I hope you continue to be involved. Of course one of the most disturbing things that can happen to you is to get involved with politics to the point that you actually get to know some politicians and their handlers. Regardless of party affiliation, disillusionment, frustration and loss of hope, will quickly follow. Is this the best that we can put on the ballot is the question that you will ask.

these are the thoughts of Dennis on May 17, 2004 03:49 PM

While this country is built on debate, it is also built upon privilege, exclusion, elitism, and naked violence.

On top of that Democracy is not about voting for some guy to be in charge of you, it's about you having a say in the way your world works.

these are the thoughts of Jake on May 18, 2004 08:47 PM

Democracy is not about voting for some guy to be in charge of you, it's about you having a say in the way your world works. - Well, yeah. And the way we do it in a country this huge is representatively. Elected officials aren't in charge of you, they're employees.

it is also built upon privilege, exclusion, elitism, and naked violence - And that's precisely why I don't think relying on "founding fathers" for opinions about how the world should be run is useful. Cause they thought of other people as property. We've come a long way, but we also have a long way to go.

these are the thoughts of april on May 19, 2004 11:35 AM

The primary reason that people choose to run away to Canada is that it is easier for them to get back into the U.S.of A. than it was for them to enter Canada. No Guts or Committment Required.

these are the thoughts of Julian on May 27, 2004 01:21 PM

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