This week has been really, really hard. My stomach physically hurts. My heart aches. It feels like a break up…but without the weight loss.
That pain. That anger. That disbelief. That grief. We need to harness it. Use it to further our cause.
How do we do that? We stay mad. We stay engaged. We use this energy to propel us forward.
So, let me ask you, do you know who your county commissioner is? What about if judges are elected or appointed in your district? How are your libraries/schools/Medicaid/roads/parks and other local programs funded?
In the words of Tip O’Neill: all politics is local.
But sometimes we forget that. We think that everything happens in DC. In a far away land where there are lobbyists and no one looking out for us (this isn’t true, btw. The legislative branch is essentially run by millennials who moved to DC because they are passionate about something — most likely making a positive change in this world).
However, Republicans have LONG outplayed us at the local level. This was my number one take away from policy school. You want to know why we can’t make gun control happen? Because the NRA has organized at the state and local level and can ‘activate’ their base when needed. “This is why when tragic shootings happen, we see the same thing: collective outrage, followed by a momentary flurry of unorganized calls and letters and donations from thousands of individuals, and then a quick return to the status quo. In Congress and in state legislatures, a few elected officials invariably use the opportunity to advance gun control legislation. But most political leaders lie low, assuming that the public agitation will prove fleeting, just as it has so many times before. And prove fleeting it inevitably does.”
So don’t let this outrage pass. Don’t let our access to simply luxuries like iphones and alcohol or our small victories with weed and gay marriage lull us into complacency.
So how do you make a difference? You get involved and stay informed. It’s not glamorous to show up to your local county party headquarters. Some of the people will be radical. Some will look unkempt with Bernie-esq hair. But this is where change begins.
“The framers of the Constitution rigged the US political system to frustrate the ambitions of bold policy reformers and to reward those who build consent from the ground up. Their plan succeeds to this day.”
So embrace that design. Don’t start at the top, start at the bottom, and work to the top. Incrementalism is key. Change opinions, change regulations, change minds, change elected officials, change policy.