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How Do You Make Change Happen? Show Up


How Do You Make Change Happen? Show Up

Jim Hightower

In my travels and conversations this year, I've been encouraged that grassroots people of all progressive stripes (populist, labor, liberal, environmental, women, civil libertarian, et al.) are well aware of the slipperiness of "victory" and want Washington to get it right this time. So over and over, Question No. 1 that I encounter is some variation of this: What should we do!?! How do we make Washington govern for all the people? What specific things can my group or I do now?


Thank you Jim Hightower for reminding us to engage in mature activism. Yes, that means the boring stuff of working within the existing system -- rotten as it is -- to build coalitions and get things done. Protests have an important place but they are not enough if we do not follow through in getting to know our representatives, attending meetings and pressuring them in organized ways,

We also need more progressives running for local and offices. Real movements have to work consistently between elections and marches.


Great advice. Thank you Mr. Hightower. You can't move a mountain alone, just pick up a spoon and start digging along side everyone else.


The corporate criminals that run the show work so tirelessly to disenfranchise the population from government so that democratic forces are minimized and corporate interests are championed. It is a shame that so many are still supporting Clinton when Bernie is the real deal progressive. Perhaps that should be his slogan:

Bernie: The Real Deal.


True WiseOwl, but also keep in mind that the opposition, is a criminal enterprise, and their very survival depends on them not losing...


The first thing to do is join large organizations that are fighting for you issues. These organizations can empower large groups of people. They have their their own lobbying campaigns that can counter the opposition although they will be outspent. And give money to these organizations, the more money they have the more effective they can be. Also, join small grassroots organizations. These groups generally bring the most energy to a cause. And it is also important to act individually to vote and contact representatives in government. If one has the talent and time, perhaps the most important thing to do run for office. In the south especially there is a lack of good progressive candidates for office. The conservatives have many more talented and motivated people to choose from in that part of the country. As long as the conservatives can dominate one large region of the country it will remain difficult to accomplish anything progressive at the federal level.


As Stein says - half of life is showing up .... (smile)


I have watched, in my Kansas town, some darn good folks run for office. I have watched them work their tush's off and get nada for the whole effort. It's devastating to watch, I know it doesn't feel good. The consolation message is usually be sure and run again next time because you will have more name recognition.

And while I cannot quite bring myself to be one of those sacrificial lamb candidates, I DO try to support them. But it is the day to day and month to month moments of activism that bring democracy to life. Too many of us vote and think we have punched our citizenship ticket. And now things are in so much disrepair that we need to get noisy and rowdy.


Judging from the participants' comments at my local Democratic caucus there is a waning number of young and middle age Democrats, most are independents and don't care what color shirt the candidate is wearing. Despite the media emphasizing the current fracture in the GOP, the Democrats are equally if not more fractured. Some of the GOP fracture is actually just theatrics whereas the fracture in the Democratic Party is more substantial.


"Make it an excursion, rewarding yourselves with a nice glass of wine or a beer and some laughs afterward...."

Yeah, I always used to have a few "après-protest" beers at a local bar with a now-deceased radical friend after a protest....


Protestors in large numbers in Washington, DC, who meant business and scared the s..t out of Richard Nixon, stopped the Vietnam War. Remember activist Mollie Ivins and make noise, lots of noise, in growing numbers until we are heard in unmistakable terms. This is our country. They work for us. Our taxes pay for this place. A government of, by, and for the people. It's ours to lose!


This was a good strategy 30-40 years ago. No time left for this to happen. Change, major change, has to happen now.


What's the agenda? Standing in solidarity with the better-off alone? Maintain the status quo. Sen. Sanders used to speak out powerfully about US poverty and the need for legitimate poverty relief programs. Lessons learned from the Great Depression: You can't save/rebuild the middle class without putting rungs on the ladder out of poverty. Since the Clinton administration, our poverty agenda has been "trickle down economics."

The poor, and those who get why unrelieved poverty has become such a critically important issue, had voted for Obama on the chance that he could launch a legitimate discussion about our poverty crisis. He raised the issue, it fell flat with the middle class. This is an era when mainstream America clings to the notion that everyone is able to work, there are jobs for all, therefore no need for poverty relief. And this means that no matter how the election turns out, nothing will improve for the poor.

This isn't going to change after the next election.