THE BLOG
03/18/2008 06:25 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Take Back America - Tuesday

This was originally posted at Speak Out California

I am at the Take Back America conference in Washington DC. This is an annual gathering of a couple of thousand progressives. You see lots of familiar names and faces here, people you see on TV and in magazines. Just five minutes ago I was saying "Hi" to Arianna Huffington. Earlier today I said Hi to Jesse Jackson...

I was thinking about why people do this. I don't mean the overnight flight with a three-hour layover in Atlanta. (But really, why did I do that?)

I mean, being a progressive is not a big-money gig. So I am attending these great panel sessions and the speakers are very sharp, productive people, who speak very well, and who have dedicated their lives to helping other people. Yes, some make pretty good money, but nothing at all like they could make out there in the corporate world.

Trust me, nobody does this for the money.

I was watching one particularly good speaker yesterday. She was very good, very persuasive, interesting to listen to... and I thought, "I used to do this for products." Now I can't do this for products. Something inside of me will not let me.

It is about being a citizen. In a morning session today Taylor Branch was talking about lessons from the civil rights movement. One thing he said resonated with me. He said, "Citizens in a democracy are all supposed to have an equal share in that democracy, so we ought to act like it." We all have a duty, a responsibility to be involved in bettering our country, and to work to stop the wrongs we see.

That's why.