Making Activism Count

Here’s something that crawls under my skin: misdirected political activism. 

Case in point:  I was watching MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow the other day and she ran a story about how the Bush Administration was pushing through a vile regulation that would allow any healthcare worker to deny medical treatment to anyone on the basis of the healthcare worker’s religious views.  So, for example, if the clerk at the pharmacy has an opposition to birth control, they can deny a customer their perscription.   Or, if a nurse believed that AIDS was God’s punishment of gays, she could deny treatment to a patient — with no requirement that someone else render the requested treatment.  Like I said, vile, disgusting stuff, like most of what I’ve seen come out of the Bush Administration. 

But here’s my issue:  Rachel Maddow and her guest said something along the lines of “this regulation is not set to take effect till tomorrow, so, go to my website to find the phone number for the White House and call them to tell them you oppose this!”

Are they freakin’ kidding me?  Obviously the administration is pushing through legislation they know to be controversial and they could give a flying fuck if 30,000 people called the White House last night.   Besides, I’ve been through the Washington D.C. circuit.  Who’s on the other end of those phone calls to the White House, your Senator and your Congressman?  It’s an 18 year old intern who, at best, tells you “they’ll pass on your concerns to X” and then punches your info into a database so that you can receive mass mailings/fundraising requests from the elected official.

Encouraging people to waste their political capital by lodging calls, letters, or emails with people who are not persuadable is a total waste of resources.   These mail-call campaigns will never change a congressman (much less President’s) agenda. The only way to handle these high level people is to vote them out of office and replace them with people who agree with you. 

I believe that the only place to possibly have a shot at persuading an elected official is at the very local level — or on a piece of legislation that has not received attention one way or the other.  Otherwise, you are just screaming into the wind. 

Today I put my activism where my mouth is.  My city council is divided on whether a landfill which is soon to be filled up should be turned into a park, or if the composting facility on the presmises should be maintained in some way.  In a city with lots of parks (and lots of affluent back yards) but only one composting facility, to me it seemed like a no brainer.  So, I wrote the 3 councilmembers who are hold outs and urged them to reconsider their position.  I don’t know that my email will change their view — but I do know that I can knock on approximately 100 doors on a typical Saturday and those votes could be all it takes to kick those tools out of office — and they know it!


1 Comment

  1. Theresa said,

    December 20, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    I can’t jump on the MSNBC bandwagon for some reason…kind of off-topic, I guess. At the same time, CNN all of a sudden SUCKS. They seem to have dumbed-down a bit over the last few months.

    I completely agree on the local activism. Rob’s much more into it than I am, but it’s really the only place where we can make a difference. Plus, we feel more a part of our community by taking a role in it. Or least being knowledgeable about it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: