Tim DeChristopher made a statement before the Judge sentenced him to 2 years in a Federal prison for disrupting what was later deemed an improper lease auction, “I am not saying any of this to ask you for mercy, but to ask you to join me.” The dignity and courage shown by Mr. DeChristopher is inspiring and terrifying. (Please read his entire statement at http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/26-13.)
I am ready to join him, I am going to take that proverbial flying leap. Ever since my arrest at the 1st Tar Sands Action I have been teetering on the edge, not quite an activist in my mind, and yet viewed as one by others. At a recent event I was told that this was my “calling”, and that I needed to “be a leader”. And like the statement from Mr. DeChristopher, this both inspired and terrified me.
But I am ready, and I have a plan. And I think it is a pretty good plan. It is simple really, draft a national strategy based upon the 3E’s: environment, education & equality. Build a strong foundation through communication, collaboration & cooperation. Convert issues into actions. Invite legislators to listen, representatives from existing organizations to speak, and everyone to join in.
We are at a crossroads. And it is time for each of us to take a stand. We can no longer be willing to sit idly by, trusting that some nameless, faceless “other”, is making decisions regarding our well being. We have seen how simple it is really, to infiltrate a political party and hold the rest of us hostage.
I now have a simple proposal for you, let’s do it. Let’s take over, you and I. We can start by joining our local democratic committee, help to select & elect candidates. That is a good start right? And then, we will work on campaigns; help draft strategy & platform issues, write speeches, and most important, draft legislation. Still with me? Next, let’s run local candidates elect those to our school board who will insist on better lessons, more science & math, retrofit schools with solar & provide real food to our children.
We can run for town council, get on zoning & planning, be the economic development committee. That is real power, controlling the budget and developing our home towns. No longer will we have to fight to get solar approved or better recycling, we’ll write the ordinances. And budget? We know how to balance a budget, retrofit schools, cut down energy costs, hold classes outside, and if taxes need to be raised, then do it. But do it fairly, in a balanced way.
That led to my drafting a piece of legislation, the Balanced Budget Fairness Act, one of our first projects will be to get this to Congress. Imagine, for every dollar we give to a corporation, one dollar into education. Every dollar to defense, one to health & welfare. Every dollar to oil, gas, nuclear & coal, one to solar, wind and renewable. And for every dollar to animal based agriculture, one to plant based. This is how we change the world, we start by changing how we spend our money.
Because let’s face it, it is our money. And if we continue to sit back and allow the GOP to continue the pillage of our public land and national resources, selling them to the highest bidder who takes the profits and stashes them out of the country to avoid taxes, then we have no one to blame but ourselves.
Democracy is a participatory sport, and while liberal and progressive voters were busy raising our families, building our businesses, going on vacation, supporting the arts, going to Washington for the occasional rally, especially the one that “restored our sanity”, the GoP was busy running elections and making sure they put Judges & Sheriffs in place, elected Councils & Boards, took over State legislatures, and then they started cutting environmental protections, defunding education & overturning efforts to bring about true equality. While we were distracted by the latest sex tape going viral online & who was doing who at the Jersey shore, Republicans were making it impossible for our kids to afford college while they pillaged our 401ks for pocket change.
I’m here to tell you, it wasn’t magic, and it wasn’t even that difficult. Politics isn’t some esoteric specialty that requires years of training, it is part of our civic duty and our social contract. We can all join Mr. DeChristopher, we don’t have to get arrested, some of us need to get elected.