A New Series: Waiting on Washington

October 21, 2010

Election season is heating up, yet my optimism has cooled to an all-time low. You may know the feeling. Regardless of where you fall, politically, you are probably disappointed. Politics is, to borrow an all-too-common phrase, “business as usual.” It doesn’t seem to matter which candidate wins in Missouri, or which candidate wins in Colorado, or which candidate wins in Delaware, because money is the ruling power. Public opinion says one thing, but D.C. does another, because it’s not the voice of Americans to which our Senators and Representatives are listening. No, they’re listening to the voice of Monsanto, the voice of the Koch brothers, and the voice of Valero.

When it comes to my role in this “democracy,” I’ve gone through various stages of anger, and one of those included thoughts of refusing to vote. I’ve calmed down (a little bit), and I do plan to vote in November, but I still doubt whether it will make a difference. I don’t think this is the final word, because we are a resilient country, but is there any hope for change?

I think there is, and this is why: we don’t have to wait on Washington.  Some action from our elected officials can certainly help the causes with which we are concerned, but we can also act. I can’t guarantee that Senator McCaskill is going to notice (I certainly can’t replace the $23k she’s received from Monsanto), but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up. It’s easy to back down, because it’s easier to wait on Obama, but I’m tired of waiting. I know that my actions alone won’t do much, but our country is defined by the will of its people–all of it’s people. Think about our actions this way: when we make compromises to our values, we walk in step with the elected officials we criticize. We can’t scoff at the way Roy Blunt’s campaign is funded by corporations when we shirk our own values for convenience.

In the coming weeks, I’d like to share my thoughts on how our actions and personal responsibility can force changes in Washington. We control how we use energy, how we view food, and how we spend money, and we can act regardless of whether Washington acts. We’ve heard that each dollar makes a difference, and each action makes a difference. But it’s easy to doubt these statements, and it’s easy to allow that doubt to lull us into complacency. Let’s take our values, stitch them to our sleeves, and create lasting change. Our government is supposed to represent the people of America, so let’s make sure D.C. knows where our values lie. We can’t afford to wait on them.

Tune in next week for part I of the series: Energy.

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One Response to “A New Series: Waiting on Washington”

  1. colin said

    Semi-related: I have decided that rather than working for Obama’s re-election or any other candidate, I’m going to prepare for the 2012 election by working for campaign finance reform. I don’t think anything changes until elections stop being a contest to see who can raise the most money. I emailed McCaskill about this and got a pretty weak response. I’m still investigating what groups are out there working for significant reform.

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