What if a quarter of the people who read this stood up today against Republican Greed?
Today is one of those times when we could actually take a step forward. We're not guaranteed that we'll begin to shift America back politically if we join one of the rallies at pretty well every state capitol and in cities and towns across the country. But if enough people participate, it will help, and maybe give us the courage to raise our voices more. It's fine to watch cheer on people risking their lives for democracy in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain and even Libya. But meanwhile, the wealthy, the greedy, and the power-hungry are assaulting American democracy like rarely in our history. So if you don't like what's happening, get out from behind the screen, and actually stand with your fellow human beings to say so. Say so publicly and visibly, like the Tea Party did, even as it was funded by reality-denying fanatics like the Koch brothers.
So if Tea Party supporters can stand up, and the people who Bush insisted could only get democracy at the point of American guns could stand up, maybe we ought to. If we don't get out today because we read this too late or live too far from the rallies, then we need to get out there the next change we get, and support the organizations trying to make that happen. They did this in Egypt and the other courageous countries, in situations that too many of world's leaders said were impossible to change. They're doing this in Wisconsin, in 20 degree weather and snow. Those of us who helped carry Obama to office didn't do this kind of thing in Obama's first two years, and certainly didn't do enough. Clicking and signing petitions and letters and blog comments simply isn't the same as rallying in public or making phone calls and knocking on doors to support what we believe in. I suspect had we done more of this Obama would have been a better president and done more things to really deal with the crises we face. And I suspect that fewer people would have bought the Republican lies last November.
But we did what we did, and this is the situation we're handed. From the polls I've read, most Americans don't support massive assaults on teachers, firefighters and crisis counselors, and their right to have a common voice. Especially not when the only fiscal crisis Wisconsin faced was triggered by Scott Walker making his first act giving massive tax breaks to the wealthy. They don't support letting insurance companies drop people at will who get cancer. They don't think they support tax cuts for the wealthiest. They'd rather fund alternative energy and efficiency than give money to oil and coal companies. And they don't believe in making abortion illegal, even as many have some reservations, much less inciting people to kill nurses and receptionists and doctors. They also don't like lies, even as they fall prey to them at times.
So we either speak out or let Scott Walker, Glenn Beck and John Boehner speak in our stead. But imagine if we did speak out, now and in the future. Imagine if even a quarter of you who read this blog decided to drop what you are doing, find the nearest rally and go to it. Or pledge to sign up so you won't miss the next one, and to do all you can to reach those whose choices really will decide whether we deal with unemployment, foreclosure and eviction, with corporations buying our democracy, with a future, if we don't start acting soon on climate change, where flooding and drought, killer heat waves and ice storms, hurricanes like Katrina and floods those that covered a fifth of Bangladesh. become almost routine. If we want to reverse those realities, we'd better act now, and if we do, we might learn from Egypt that you never know what your actions will produce.
The rallies start at noon, or most of them do, and will stretch into early afternoon. They're being held in every state capitol and cities around the country, and you can punch in your zip code and find out where. They're a chance to find our courage and help others find theirs, and maybe begin to shift America back toward sanity, and maybe begin to get back on the road we were traveling on just two years ago.
Paul Loeb is author of Soul of a Citizen, with 130,000 copies in print including a newly updated second edition. He's also the author of The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear, named the #3 political book of 2004 by the History Channel and the American Book Association. See www.paulloeb.org To receive Paul's articles directly www.paulloeb.org/subscribe.html You can sign up here for his HuffPo posts.