Incrementalism

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.

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Long stories

Hello friends,

As you all know, I like to tell stories. Sometimes they are about friends, family, dogs, work, internet findings, chance encounters or even the occasional random train of thought. While not always of J.K. Rowling caliber, I can tell you one thing – they are accurate.

I don’t change punch lines to make them funnier or accredit myself with tales that are not my own. I’m a little too obsessed with authenticity and accuracy – often to my own (and my poor listeners) detriment.

I take a funny encounter and ruin it with too many details and long-winded explanations of circumstance and context.

Details are my downfall.

Details are perhaps needed in a 754 page novel, but, most likely unneeded in a three minute conversation with acquaintances.

But don’t worry, my friends, I have been made aware of this shortcoming many times. I now try to hone in on the point of my ramblings and leave my detailed details out. (I should probably practice this at home in front of the mirror…but who has time for that)!

So instead I do things like I did today. I was so aware that I was getting started on a much too complicated story, that I just tried to summarize………..and I botched it.

I successfully said nothing after about five minutes of rambling. Most awkward conversation of my life.

What can I say, I’m a work in progress 😉

Rome wasn't build in a day!

Occupy rant

Hi all,

I’m getting political today. Everyone who knows me, knows I am opinionated – and sometimes a little too much so. And today you’re going to hear some of those opinions.

The #occupywallstreet movement has a lot of people talking. Most seem aggrieved that their commutes are slower, smelly hippies are taking over parks, and interrupting daily life.

While so many of my friends are upset about the economy, distraught about how much student loans they have and frustrated about how hard it is to be successful today, no one seems to want to latch on to an “extremist” movement. They don’t consider themselves hippies, loonies or protesters. They see problems but don’t consider themselves political. They don’t know enough to comment. They don’t care.

This reminds of a quote, “The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.” -Robert M. Hutchins. Think about it.

I don’t like to be perceived as extremist, ill-informed, delusional or any other word that people use to describe the protesters. However, at least I care.

I care about the world, my country, my state, my friends, and my family. I want the best for all of them. I want to believe in the American Dream. That if you work hard, you can be successful. I believe in personal responsibility – but I worry that even responsible people can no longer work hard and earn the lives they want.

I did everything by the books. I did well in school, wrote an honors thesis, did internships, participated in school clubs, and yet I worked for free for an entire year after graduating. I couldn’t get a job to save my life. I am fortunate because my family was able to support me while I waitressed, worked at retail stores and continued to intern (for free) to build my resume.

What if I had loans? What if my parents didn’t have the means to support me? What if I didn’t have parents? People who have different circumstances than I would never have been able to do what I did and would have had to serve fulltime or work retail. Is that what we want to reward people with who have gone to college, played by the rules and graduated?

Is that the country you want to live in? Where the best job people can get is at Starbucks? Nothing is wrong with working in retail or the service industry but in order to stay competitive on a global scale we need to motivate people to get an education and work in developing fields. I got a Bachelor’s of Science and found myself back at my high school job.

I don’t want that for myself. I don’t want that for my younger siblings. I don’t want that for my friends. I don’t want that for my country.

I’m mad.

Because I care.

I see problems with the #occupy movement. I don’t think that camping in parks, drinking, doing drugs and not showering is contributing to our society. However, they have succeeded. People are listening. People are noticing. People are talking.

I don’t pretend do have all of the solutions. Maybe when I get my masters (or one day Ph.D?) I will. But until then I can promise you a few things.

1. I will do my part. This means staying informed, voting and perhaps moving my money away for corporate institutions who used predatory loans to get people into houses they couldn’t afford and now are kicking them out. (Yes B of A, I’m looking at you. No, I’m no longer your customer).

2. I will continue working hard. Hopefully graduate school is next.

3. I won’t give up.

I believe in democracy. I believe in the American Dream. I believe that business and people alike should be able to play by the rules and be successful. Sometimes rules need to be changed – sometimes they just need to be followed. I don’t believe in the exploitation of the masses for the benefit of the few.

Aren’t we all equal? Don’t we all deserve quality education? And the pursuit of the American Dream?

Yes, this is rant. It’s not grammatically correct nor a well organized essay. But please, don’t dismiss the occupiers. They are fighting (some incoherently) for a country they believe in. I bet we’d all agree with them more than we’d disagree if we actually listed to them. Don’t dismiss the movement. Don’t complain about your commute (be thankful you have a damn job).

Just care. About your future and our country’s.

(And be thankful when the news covers the #occupy movement more than the Kardashian-Humphries divorce or LiLo jail sentence).