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Listening At The Political Crossroads

We talk a lot about the importance of active participation, and we have tried to skate that razor’s edge this primary season between the "my candidate is Jesus and yours is Satan" tendencies that keep cropping up and the need to focus — really focus — on the issues that will still be problems long after the primaries have ended. Because, ultimately, what we need is for those problems to be addressed: the economy, poverty and children at risk, foreign and military policy issues, war profiteering, health care, restoration of Constitutional balance and accountability…the list is endless as to what has been woefully neglected or deliberately mismanaged for years now.

Digby spotlighted an article from Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill yesterday that deserves a much, much wider read. Digby concludes her piece thusly:

The netroots chose not to do that and it seems to me we are way too invested in our chosen candidates to try to leverage our support now. But Klein and Scahill, both very fine writers and thinkers, believe it’s still possible for the anti-war movement to affect how these candidates deal with Iraq and if that’s the case then it may be worth a try. We’ve got an eternity before the next primary and just about every insult has been hurled and every paean has been written. Perhaps we could set aside our differences long enough to try to encourage our congresspeople to sign on to The Responsible Plan and make sure the Democratic presidential candidates don’t waffle on Iraq when the heat is on?

I’ve written this before and I’m sure I’ll do it again:

President Franklin Roosevelt recognized that his ability to push New Deal legislation through Congress depended on the pressure generated by protesters. He once told a group of activists who sought his support for legislation, "You’ve convinced me. Now go out and make me do it."

We don’t help our cause or our candidates by failing to "make them do it." It’s our end of the deal.

I’m with Digby. The squabbling and petty personal crap has got to stop. From top to bottom, it has to stop, especially from the campaigns.

Sometimes, a reminder of why I got more politically involved can help me through a rough patch when I’m sick and tired of all the crap. It is worth a pause to contemplate why the continued work on certain issues must be done, for ourselves and every generation that follows. What the craven, self-serving set wants is disharmony and discontent, because that serves their KStreet/consultant/ego/crony perpetuation. I’ll be damned if I’m going to help them keep that going, and none of you should do so either. So take a moment this morning and think about what matters to you politically — and why working on it is so important to you. If you feel like it, share your thoughts in the comments — you might inspire someone else who needs it.

Also worth contemplating is how to keep that interest going with folks who are just now beginning to pay attention — how do we encourage active participation in government among the young, the exhausted and the apathetic? No easy answers there.

But right now, we are throwing away our own voices to a discordant cacophony over…what? And the issues which get right to the heart of who we are, who we ought to be, and where we ought to be going get shuffled under — which only helps the presidential and congressional candidates ignore them as they continue to barrel down the campaign highway full speed. We talk endlessly about how disappointed we are in our political leadership, how they have failed us by failing to lead when we most need them to do so…when what we need to do is turn that question right back at ourselves.

One very hopeful sign this year has been the enormous surge of participation of younger voters — with voters turning out in record numbers in Democratic primaries nationwide. What this could mean, if it translates into votes in the fall, is an opportunity for substantial change from the local to the state up through the federal races. Meaning an enormous opportunity to put progressive, thoughtful people in office to begin the desperately needed work.

But only if we put the issues that matter to all of us ahead of the silly squabbles.

What we should give the Beltway? A united front. An unbending demand for something better. And a wholesale push for the hard work to be done. We should settle for nothing less — because we deserve better than we have been getting — and giving — for the last few years. And we bear responsibility for that as much as anyone else. We must demand better, from ourselves and from the people we elect…or we will never get it.

(YouTube is the director’s cut video of Beyonce singing "Listen.")

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com