And with those words, the world was forever changed. It sends shivers up my spine. The thought that a group of citizens came together and were able to change the world. To overcome one of the largest armies and empires of the time. Of course, most of us like to forget that it was a long bloody war to gain independence. Or ignore the fact that millions of Native American’s were displaced and killed, their land stolen, their way of life destroyed. I acknowledge this and the myriad problems our Nation has, and still, I can say, our Constitution is one of the greatest documents ever written.
We took a day off this week and went to Philadelphia. We visited Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the National Constitution Center. To stand in the hall where our Declaration of Independence was debated and then later the months of debate over our Constitution. We walked through the halls where George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and the other delegates walked. We stood in the first hall that sat the first House of Representatives and visited the room where George Washington was inaugurated upon his reelection.
More than anything else spending the day in these places reminded me why I am an activist, why I work hard to motivate others to become involved in our government, and why our democratic system works best with your participation.
Despite what we have been led to believe, it was a group of rabble rousing community activists who were at the head and led our revolution for Independence. And it is time for us to remember that “we the people” are in charge of this grand experiment. It is up to us to tell our elected representatives what we want and how we want to move forward. It is not up to lobbyists. It is not up to ALEC. And it is certainly not up to people like the Koch Brothers or their fictional corporate persons.
We have to start now and I am going to ask each of you to do something. I want you to contact your legislator and request a meeting. And I want you to go to that meeting with a list of questions, a notepad, and if you have one, a recording device. Go and discuss issues that are important to you, for me, I plan to ask about the 3e’s: education, environment and equality.
I want my elected officials to understand that I expect them to vote to protect our way of life. That our inalienable rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” mean we invest in education, infrastructure, environmental protections and actual energy independence by converting to renewable energy. That until and unless a corporation is held accountable for its actions, they are not a “person’. And that it is time to insist the fossil fuel industry give up its special status and billions in annual entitlements.
Imagine millions of us meeting with our elected officials, telling them that we will not allow cuts to Social Security and Medicare while corporate executives are receiving billions in tax welfare entitlements. That allowing a CEO to deduct a $20 million dollar salary while insisting we cut a $25 dollar benefit to Social Security recipients is obscene. And that giving Congress an increase in pay while our troops are not is a travesty.
It is time to form a citizen lobby. It is time we draft legislation and take it to Congress. It is time for each of us to run for office, become part of our democratic process and insist we protect our way of life.
I am asking each person who reads this to visit that inner activist, to dig deep down and draw out that community organizer, to remember your heritage and help us to stop the nonsense and return our country to a path to prosperity.
Here are just a few ways to change our world:
- Meet with legislators, at every level, we need to remind legislators, they serve at our pleasure, not the pleasure of corporations and lobbyists
- Write about your visit, call, letter or email, send it to your local newspaper, post as a blog, share with your friends on Facebook (for inspiration visit www.lisalongo.me)
- Attend your local council, school board and democratic or republican committee meetings. We can’t change what we aren’t aware of and report on your meeting
- Run for office. More than anything else, this will change everything
For too long we seem to have forgotten that this is our Nation, that our Constitution is written so that the “power” resides with the people, and that it is up to us to tell legislators what we expect. It is up to us to insist that our interests are held above the interests of corporations. That it is up to draft legislation and bring it to Congress. Protest is a time honored form of political expression and one I fully support, but the most effective form of protest is getting elected.
And perhaps the greatest reason we have to do this, to honor those that have died in this struggle. To honor the activists who are working today, who get arrested, who give up time with family to ensure this work is done. That it will not have been done in vain. President Lincoln gave these words, powerful, simple reminder of our responsibility to honor those who died to preserve our way of life:
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
It is time for each of us to live up to that responsibility. To take on this fight and stop sitting home and complaining about what is happening in Washington. We have to stop thinking a “like” or “share” is going to change anything, that it takes more than that. We are not being asked to give up our lives, but our way of life is being threatened. And it is up to us to protect it. We have to draft a new platform, present our representatives with our list of priorities, here are a few suggestions:
- Balanced Budget Fairness Act: in order to fund programs and reduce deficits it is time to insist our budget reflect our national priorities and to do that we have to balance our budget in a way that is meaningful.
- Fund education & infrastructure by limiting corporate deductions of executive compensation and travel, meals and entertainment. Tax excess as a dividend.
- Remove fossil fuels from our schools, municipal buildings and other publicly funded buildings. This will create jobs, reduce deficits and balance budgets, while reducing consumption.
- Increase Social Security wage base to $5 million and include passive income in tax base
These are just a few of the ideas, and I look forward to hearing yours. How would you define “we the people”, what are your ideas and suggestions. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Facebook.
You can contact me through one of our activist groups for help and advice on how to run for office, sample letters and questions for legislators and a list of draft legislation that is currently being written. We need you to join us, more information is at www.themothersproject.com and on Facebook at Mothers for Sustainable Energy, National Women’s Party 2.0, National Eco Party and National Education Party as we develop a platform based upon the 3e’s: education, environment and equality.