January 4, 2018
When people tell me that they don’t pay attention to politics, I am always somewhat amazed. How do you not pay attention to politics, especially in this age of polarized extremes? Then I look back at most of my life when I did NOT pay attention to politics, and I am reminded why. Life takes over when you are young and finding your way, or going to school, or not so young and raising a family or building a career or being a caregiver or… just life.
But, at a certain point, I looked at what was going on in the world and realized that I had to pay attention. Politics – and politicians – have the power to work for the good of Americans or only for themselves; they can make or break our children’s future.
It’s as old as Aristotle: “(S)he who has no business with politics has no business at all”.
I felt this most acutely as I watched the election returns in 2004 and, anticipating Bush’s second term, I felt this panic. People told me not to worry, nothing horrible could come of his win. For good reason, I did not believe them.
When Barack Obama came into sight three years later, I became an activist. So many of us did. We went out and campaigned for this man who told us, “Yes, we can,” and we could! He won, and we won!
And all Americans won, even those who voted for his opponents, as he steadied the economy, reduced our military involvements and put an end to the crazy spiral of health-care denial and extortion
By August 2009, many of us sat back and relaxed. What did we have to worry about? We did our civic duty, didn’t we? We did not need to stay connected to our vision. We thought Obama could do the work just fine without us.
And then… obstructionism. The GOP practiced the art of deliberately impeding or delaying the course of legal, legislative, or other procedures. And they bragged about it. Perhaps the last straw was denying Judge Garland his hearing.
We left too soon. We forgot that we hold the power to our political futures with our voices, with our feet, with our votes. If we do not use these things, we cede our futures to those who do not have our interests at heart. And our complacency put an incompetent in the White House, though it could be said that the 65% of Republican voters (and the candidates) who conceded the nomination bear some responsibility!
With January 2017 we woke from the nightmare with Women’s Marches and new networks, among them a nationwide movement known as The Indivisibles: in Dutchess County our umbrella group is Indivisible the Fight is On – and we went to work to turn the tide.
The ebb and flow of activism is a tough nut to crack (to coin a metaphor, but you know what I mean). As Will Rogers knew, we are not blind conformists – anything but! Burn-out is a real problem too. I know that first hand. We were flowing at the beginning of 2017, and then we ebbed. And then the abominable tax bill passed, and hopefully, the winter months and the mounting issues will bring us back into gear.
When we speak as a collective, we are heard and Indivisible the Fight is On will continue to foster ways to speak as a collective. We remain committed. We are here to support. We are here to organize. We are here to help communicate the visions, the plans, the strategies amongst many collaborating organizations and dedicated individuals. If you care to fix the problems of polarization and obstructionism, we are here for you, all of us who live in the shadow of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Melanie Whaley, Chair of ITFIO
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