What can you do to change the system? This is the question students always ask me, after I instruct them that it is their duty, their responsibility to act, and not simply complain.
Well, these are the times that try men's *and women's souls. The candidates are generally lackluster, the issues ignored, our country's problems increase and the divide appears to grow wider each day.
And the process seems broken.
Not broken as in, well, a little axle grease will fix this, but broken, as in, there is nothing we can do to fix this and we ought to just throw it out and start over, except there are powerful forces that make that impossible, broken.
So, we are told that if the two choices are unacceptable, we must hold our nose and vote for one or the other, because to do otherwise elects the least acceptable choice. And the issues are sooooo important.
So we continue to get bad candidates, vapid debate and no solutions.
Maybe it is time to use the most powerful tool at our disposal (and no, it is not our vote), to force popular change.
Think back to the civil rights movement. Many of them had no vote, at least no effective vote. And they were excluded, minimized, and ignored.
Until they marched, stopped the levers of the southern economy, and made the media pay attention.
The levers of power are not in Congress, not in Washington. They are in the streets, in the cafes, in the corporate boardrooms of this country. In the press and the media
When was the last time a major public movement, led by ordinary people, shut down the news. Shut down the businesses, shut down the streets, not for a day, or a few hours, but for the long haul
You want change, follow the money. You want to stop special interest PACs, shut down the entrances to every business that supports them. Stop the media from publishing. Follow every Congressman to their cars, to their homes, give them no escape from their inaction.
Take to the streets, in massive numbers (if there are not enough of you, recruit more, if there are stilll not enough, maybe there really is no movement), and be willing to go to jail, for peaceful protest against a system that needs you to change it.
No long term change in our history every came down from the top; the top sits there satisfied until it feels its foundations shaking. Then fearful it may lose its place, it acts.
Your vote this fall will make no difference at all. It matters so little today who you elect. Trump or Clinton, pick your poison.
You want change, organize your friends and neighbors, from across the country, and pick your spots to disrupt the comfortable and make them squirm.
Now, that, my friends, it what I believe. From the heartland, the foundation of 1890s Bryanism and Populism, the heart of 1839s Milo Reno agricultural revolt, the place the coast fly-over and ignore, and the place that knows that, sometimes, there are ideas and ideals worth fighting for.
You can accept your lot, or you can fight the status quo, but you cannot count on your vote to make the difference. Those days are gone, not because the vote is irrelevant, but because your choices have become indistinguishable, like the paint swatches on the display at Home Depot. How much browner is Sumatra Blend than Deep Walnut?
And the toughest aspect is just how hard this is.