1. We will have to accept that we have to do this "public oversight" work and election work or lose our country.
2. We will have to change our culture's understanding of government. There is an idea that government is something someone else does--if they don't do it right, the citizen's role is to complain a lot and get on with your own private life. Most of our kids, our younger generation of Americans, don't even know that they are supposed to participate. We forgot to teach them something: "Politics is the way a free people govern themselves" (Bernard Crick).
If we don't all participate, that allows a small number of people to use the government to steal the wealth of our nation. In recent years we have had one economic scandal after another-savings and loan, Enron, housing mortgages. We have seen government regulation of many industries slanted to enable corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, keeping our environment clean, and reinvesting in our communities and our country by providing our citizens here with jobs at a living wage with fair benefits..
4. What Can Influential and Powerful Citizens Do?
In addition to supporting the critical, traditional activities of Voter Registration, Get Out The Vote, and Voter Protection, influential and powerful citizens can much.
1. Pressure and assist the Democratic Party to prepare to counteract dirty tricks and the invisible fraud that can happen when votes are cast and counted inside computers. Do Democrats have "fair election" teams and computer teams in every state? There is still time to set them up and to take action to resolve that can disenfranchise eligible voters and keep some votes from being counted.
Only citizen participation in politics and the oversight of our government can lead to a fair balance between the desires of wealthy individuals and corporations on one hand, and the needs of working people and the middle class on the other. Our governmental policies can provide good jobs, good schools, good medical care, a clean environment, and a decent life for ALL Americans, but only if ALL Americans participate.
Democracy requires an informed, engaged citizenry. Right now, due to control of the media by a small number of owners, and use of the media as entertainment instead of information, we have a largely ignorant population. Candidates can lie, and few people notice because most of us don't know our own public servants and what they did in the past, and we don't know the issues. We don't know our own history and we don't know the world we live in.
But we can learn. We can recover. We can do better. We can tithe our free time to civic participation, and help our country and ourselves.
10 THINGS INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS CAN DO
1. Voter registration (New York City deadline to register to vote in November is Oct. 10, 2008)
2. Get out the vote
3. Work as a "voter protection observer" in poll sites, prepared to call hotlines, lawyers, or media teams if voters are unfairly challenged or face other barriers to ballot access
4. Submit application now to work at the polls in November