Finding inspiration in a grueling political season

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Finding inspiration in a grueling political season

by Dave Reed, WCC Executive Director

Dave Reed Aug 2015

Dave Reed

Who’s not fed up with party politics these days? The 2016 election season has been grueling, and we’re barely out of the primaries.

A strange, volatile mix of disillusion and hope reigns. Americans are outraged by politics as usual, they’re convinced the system is broken or rigged – but they’re also investing tremendous goodwill into outsider candidates who they see as the way to change the system.

People are clamoring for change in a way that they haven’t done since the 1960s, and I’d like to think that in this election cycle we’re seeing the seeds of a new political future. But I worry that our idealism is getting a little out of touch with the political reality.

At the risk of sounding preachy, I think we need both idealism and practicality to make a better world. You want to change the system? Good for you – but how are you going to translate that lofty goal into action? Who exactly is going to get it done – you and what army?

Politics – getting stuff done – is a numbers game. It takes more than politicians; it takes people, organized, to make the politicians do the right thing. That’s where idealism is empowered by practicality, and produces real change.

Western Colorado Congress is strictly nonpartisan. We campaign for solutions, not for parties. Rather than taking political sides, we organize individuals and communities to win over all parties on the issues that are important to us. Rather than looking to politicians to lead – which they rarely do – we train our members to be the leaders whose advice politicians will follow.

That’s WCC’s practical side. As for idealism, our mission statement stakes out the four corners of what we stand for:  healthy, sustainable communities; social and economic justice; environmental stewardship; and a truly democratic society.

If you can get behind any of those, let’s work together!

Millions of Americans have been inspired to enter the political fray for the first time this year, and that’s a wonderful thing.

If you’re one of those newcomers, or if you’re an old hand who’s been newly energized, I hope you’ll remain engaged beyond this election season, because what comes next is no less important. I hope you’ll channel your passion and energy into organizations like WCC that are doing the patient, essential – and practical and idealistic! – work of creating the political will for change from the grassroots up.

Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Our ideological selves are impatient, wishing we could bend that arc asap. And by all means, let’s try!

But let’s also pace ourselves, taking the time to build the movements that will actually bring about the change we want to see.

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