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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What About Change?



Don't you know
They're talkin' bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
Don't you know
They're talkin' about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper

While they're standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in the unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion

Poor people gonna rise up
And get their share
Poor people gonna rise up
And take what's theirs

Don't you know
You better run, run, run...
Oh I said you better Run, run, run...
Finally the tables are starting to turn
Talkin' bout a revolution

***

First, a tip of the hat to Johanna and A Cuban in London for providing the elements that made this idea for a post finally come together.

***
I remember years ago, my sister and I waiting for hours to see Tracy Chapman perform at the Shoreline Ampitheatre, sitting on the lawn on a warm summer night, our backs hurting from hours on the ground, trying to find a comfortable way to sit. Finally, when Tracy came out and sang, it was so worth it.

Looking back, what a thrill it was to see her perform and sing along with the crowd to songs that were very moving and beloved by all of us. But now this song seems like its time has finally come. Even this version of the song, sung years later (and how has her voice changed) only adds more power to the words.

***

In a way, the election seems like it was ages ago.

I just got an email from David Plouffe yesterday (you may have gotten one, too), about taking a survey about the campaign and offering ideas about the new presidency to come in a short time. I was glad to see his name in my inbox again. Seemed like old times. ;-)

It made me think, along with Johanna's post, about what we're prepared to do now that change could truly be coming to us. I know there's a lot of speculation about Obama's cabinet, and people are already griping about this historic presidency being Clinton's Third Term and the far right is already planning its attacks and the man hasn't even taken office yet.

Aside from those distractions (which I'm trying really hard to avoid because I feel like this election has taken an emotional toll on me--you might feel the same way--and it's almost like I'm recovering from an ailment that has alternately made me incredibly depressed and also crazily elated), I know that a shift has come over me. I can't not care anymore about the future of our political system and the impact it has on us and our children's futures. Holding my baby niece and watching Little Curly Girl play made me realize how much we owe our future citizens. This morning, the first news item on the radio I hear as I'm getting dressed for work is how the auto companies are asking Congress for money to avoid bankruptcy. I can't help thinking about those families, those children, the workers who will truly suffer.

I'm not sure exactly how it's going to all come together, but I know that somehow I'll be inspired to act and contribute, not just to do my best to support my new president, but to be more involved locally. Do you feel the same way? And if so, what thoughts do you have about how you'll do it?

I'm sure I'll have more thoughts on the matter later, but I'm wondering how this election has affected you to be more aware and involved for the future.

12 comments:

ModernTanguera November 19, 2008 at 11:41 AM  

I wouldn't say that this election has made me more aware of anything, but the overall surge in political interest has energized me on issues that I already knew and cared about.

I am pretty constantly involved in letter-writing campaigns on a national level - writing to senators, my representative, the president, secretaries, ... anyone who is dealing with an issue that matters to me. The new energy has made me seek out more stable, regular volunteer opportunities in my community to help on the local level, as well. And I always try to continue educating myself and talking with others about issues that I care about - because change begins on the personal level.

mrs. sarah ott November 19, 2008 at 12:45 PM  

and that the change is coming by us, through us, because of us too.

i also have been altered by this election. i made my first stance toward change standing like a sardine in a can next 8000 other democrats during the caucus. the previous election had shown a gathering of merely 900 democrats for all of anchorage. it was powerful.
since then, and now, i'm involving myself in local business (however small, its a big impact not to shop at walmart and resist target if i can) and volunteering for the polls. i'm going to attend meetings on local issues and make my opinion matter.
i've learned this year, though my state is a republican state, that my vote really did count. if it were not for my vote and many others Begich may not have beat out Ted Stevens. that is a remarkable impact and i'm proud to be a citizen of Alaska.

mrs. sarah ott November 19, 2008 at 12:51 PM  

oh yah and i also wanted to say that i've learned this year that our government has the power and the "means" to bail out the insurance companies, the big companies, the wealthy. it is up to me to bail out my neighbor, my struggling community. shopping at walmart or shopping at Mr. Prime Beef for my meat makes a considerable difference. I've vowed to be a conscious consumer; aware of the impact of my own hard-earned dollar. and how quickly the government can just print out some more and make the money my checking account some how worth less.

paris parfait November 19, 2008 at 1:30 PM  

As you know, I think we can never stop being active and involved in our government; in the issues that affect our daily lives and our children's future. We have responsibilities, as citizens, to be involved in creating the change we want. We can't just sit back and expect someone else to take care of us. For me, the political is personal, every single day. (But ignore the sore losers for now; to paraphrase Robert Frost, the fringe elements - those with the least thought behind their words - are always the ones who shout the loudest to be heard).

As for Tracy Chapman, love her music. And I have been to a few concerts at the Shoreline; most notably, the Eagles, with a seat close to the stage and Don Henley! :) xoxox

A Cuban In London November 19, 2008 at 1:52 PM  

Well, well, well, thank you ever so much for mentioning my humble blog on yours. I have to admit that I play against the rules sometimes that's why the column came out a week later. And it seems to me that Mr Obama also likes confounding his critics, which is fine by me, but then again, I'm on the other side of the pond.

Blimey, if Tracy provoked this positive reaction, what will then be the reaction towards someone like Patti Smith whom I have here on the Killer Opening Songs lounge tonight ready to come on stage in a couple of hours (hey, you at the back, don't rush yet, sweetheart, Patti's still here by my side telling me her life story, yes we're that close :-D).

It's too soon to judge the man. Give him a year or so, then, break his kneepads if he misbehaves, JUST JOKING!!! :-)

Greetings from London.

tangobaby November 19, 2008 at 2:10 PM  

@ModernTanguera: I think your committment to letter-writing is admirable, and certainly a good way to stay involved in many topics. And with the way that this campaign in particular was so internet-driven certainly makes it much easier to have your voice heard instantly.

I'm with you, I think that volunteering will be part of my new mindset and I'll be looking for the right opportunities to get involved in. Do keep us posted on what you're doing...it's inspiring to hear about and get ideas!

@sarah: Your descriptions throughout the campaign of the "other" side of Alaska has made me appreciate all of the effort that you and your fellow citizens have made up there. Your voice and opinion made me confident that what we were being fed in the media wasn't the entire truth, and I'm glad that this experience has inspired you. You're young and smart and in a real position to effect change. I think you're also very brave to stand up in a place where things must get very local and personal, too.

I agree with you about the shopping and supporting local businesses. I have to say that since living in SF, my whole view of this subject has changed entirely. There are not a lot of large stores and shops. There's no WalMart in miles of here and even getting to Target or Costco is a pain. Now I shop at local corner markets for food, the local hardware store and stationers, etc. SF is almost a conglomeration of little villages (neighborhoods) that makes this lifestyle easier and I'm glad for that.

And about the bailouts...it just gets more incredible all the time. The arrogance of these executives to come crawling to the taxpayers after years and years of refusal to adapt and grow and implement new ways is astounding. I just feel badly for the employees because in the end they're the ones who will be hurt.

And for those who keep talking about Obama turning the country Socialist, well, there's not much left, is there?

@paris parfait: I think you have a lot more experience and exposure than many of us here due to your years as a journalist. I'd like to say that I've always held your convictions but I haven't, except perhaps to pay lipservice, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. The last eight years have made me feel like my vote does NOT count, that I do NOT make a difference and that things will not get better. Sad to say but that is the truth.

I can finally see that this is not the case, and whatever Obama does or does not accomplish in his term(s), I know now that I will see things differently from now on.

@a cuban in london: I think we need to let Obama make his decisions and stop fantasizing about every single pro and con on things that aren't even happening yet. The media is full of projections and fantasies and daydreams, not that they weren't before the election.

I have a great personal affection for Tracy Chapman. I'm sure I fairly wore out that first CD of hers. Patti Smith is not so familiar to me, so I'll continue to rely on you for my musical education.

ps. The Shrub had eight years to bring this country to its knees. And I'm sure he'll do what he can to finish off the mess as much as he can before he packs it off to Texas. So I'm not going to sweat the Obama stuff at all for a great while, if ever. Hopefully we won't need to.

Christina November 19, 2008 at 2:25 PM  

I care and I have learned a hell of a lot during this election. I have been made aware that there are a lot of "things" I still have to be aware of. I am so happy Obama won but the fact is, hatred is still alive.

I do look forward to our beautiful country moving toward better days.

As a family we plan on staying involved. Getting out more into our community and staying in touch with others in our neighborhood. Not just turning our heads, to things that affect all of us as americans.

This election has left me, exhausted, but So proud.
: )

Bill Stankus November 19, 2008 at 7:04 PM  

Not specifically because of this election - but from involvement in regional matters I know this:

We have a representative government, we really do - the big question is who is represented? The only way real change comes is if organized voters go directly to their city halls, talk directly with their representatives, attend council meets and speak out.

But when speaking out, don't overly criticize, instead offer positive and realistic solutions. As a model, think of how lobbyists work... they certainly don't go in pissed off and wanting a fight.

Reps are generally wary of ad hoc groups because they face off with the rep and are usually making demands and fast action change - the kind of change that is often political dynamite - that is, it might be costly or difficult when brought before a general assembly or full legislature and reps need concensus with other reps to get things done.

namastenancy November 19, 2008 at 11:01 PM  

I've been going over to www.change.gov
and posting suggestions with references to various articles that I'm reading about the legislation that Bush is trying to cram through, the protection of his cronies by moving them into civil service jobs and other issues as they come up. I also support the Gray Panthers here in SF, a group of politically active older women who campaign for things like elder care, medical care, better housing - you know, all those "socialist" things. I also support groups at the Episcopal and Unitarian church that work for positive change. AND I'm looking for ways to volunteer to teach art at a local school. Art Saves Lives and Souls and Spirits so I will do as much as I can. It's never enough but I also have to leave some time for painting. Saving the world, one painting at a time.
Or one post at a time with the help and encouragement of Ms. Tangobaby whose blog creates an environment for thoughtful discussion.

Johanna November 20, 2008 at 7:50 AM  

Crazed and elated, TB. Crazed and elated.

For me it is the process of converting thoughts into actions. It's very easy to have good ideas, but very different to make them happen. I'm trying to use the momentum from the Big Event to keep me going.

I think it helps to choose one or two things we'd like to see changed and then get involved by volunteering or contacting your local representatives to see how/what can be done.

Amanda November 20, 2008 at 11:11 AM  

I too have had these same ponderings in my brain, but have been unable to get them out of the brain ond on to the screen. Thanks for that.

I have always been partial to local stores and supporting this local economy of ours. In these times I support them even more.

I have only started to become more scared of job loss affecting those close to me. I think this economy thing is much bigger that I initially allowed it to be.

I know that when January rolls around many of us will be relieved, but things can't happen too quickly. It isn't healthy for us to be throwing money at everything that comes along. Attitudes have to change as well as habits. How have we allowed the "big businesses" in this country to get so big that a downturn and their slowness can destroy the entire economy?

Rambling? Yes, but it felt good!

tangobaby November 21, 2008 at 1:41 PM  

@christina: I know you care and did a lot to reach out to your neighbors before the election. Your stories were very educational to us and also inspiring. I imagine that you'll just be doing more of the same because that's who you are. So I'll still look forward to reading all about your efforts. I'm sure you made a difference in your city.

@Bill: I think you're right and that a lot of us tend to focus on state and federal issues instead of dealing with what's happening right in our own backyards. I know that this election has highlighted areas of concern where I can see myself volunteering. I think whatever I end up doing I'll try to keep your advice in mind. Being calm, positive and realistic!

@namastenancy: You are too cool for school, lady. Of course I'm not surprised one bit that you're already miles ahead of a lot of us on this issue. Perhaps you'll include me in some of your efforts someday so I can see you in action! I do think that change.gov is a brilliant idea and I've been going there myself. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

@johanna: Well you're the one who put the idea in my head in the first place, so thank you for that. I think you're right...I get overwhelmed by ideas and then don't follow through. But this time I think I'll follow your advice. Just pick one or two things and start from there. I hope you'll let me know how your process is coming along!

@Amanda: Yes, the economy is scary all over. It's definitely impacting where I work and our clients and I don't think we've seen the worst of it yet. And I'm totally paranoid to go shopping for the holidays. I'm just glad I have a job and can afford to pay my rent right now.

You're right about January not coming soon enough. The Shrub is casting a horrible pall on the remnants of our economy and I can't help but wonder if he had cleared out early if the stock market wouldn't be so tweaked right now. But Obama's naming his Treasury Secretary next week so hopefully that will help with the jitters.

People herein SF are very conscious about shopping locally and patronizing artisans. There's an emphasis on sustainable and locally grown foods, too. I'm glad to be living in an area that was already way ahead of the game before the election.