Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Show Up

Ralph Nader says that if Americans want to topple their corporate dictatorship, they have to show up. They can't sit back and wait for someone else to do it for them.

When neighbors asked me why I spent every Monday and Tuesday evening at city or county council meetings, year in and year out, my response was that policy is made by those who show up. The crooks looking to influence that policy were guaranteed to be there, and the way I saw it, somebody needed to keep an eye on them.

At the time, there were no public interest monitors of our local governments--not one. Needless to say, our corporate monopoly daily newspaper portrayed those policies in ways that made the crooks happy.

Now days, the crooks don't have it quite so easy, due to the fact a handful of us made the effort to show up and speak our mind. But showing up was not enough; we also did research beforehand, so we knew what we were talking about, and when policy was crooked, we hired lawyers to fight it. Not only that, but we started a community newspaper to challenge the lies of the corporate news. Finally, some of us ran for public office, and win or lose, gave the crooks (and community) something to think about.

And we were not paid, but were volunteers, eventually organizing ourselves into neighborhood associations and networks that jointly took on crooked policies at the local and state level. Tiring work that made a difference. If we'd waited for a philanthropic benefactor to pay us for our civic participation, nothing would have ever happened.


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