Saturday, November 26, 2011

This Nation Could Use a People's Protest Society

Got an idea for a new, dynamic, sister-of-the-Occupiers organization. Though I offer it in theory only, I do think it would be a perfectly splendid organization.

The People's Protest Society.

See, we learned from the protest of HB477 that often government DOES respond when we march and complain. (The HB477 protest is a better example than the Occupy movement, for the HB477 protestors brought about change, more than the Occupiers have yet achieved.)

A great little organization, this People's Protest Society would be, dedicated to marching and protesting and rallying for whatever cause might be found.

And, no these would not be mercenaries for hire. Members would respond only to causes they believed in.

Sometimes, a group of them would respond to one side of an issue, and another part to the opposite side of the same issue, thus showing up to counter protest against their own group.

Ahh, yes, a splendid little organization, this People's Protest Society would be, mobilizing democracy, enlisting the populace to action, and demanding that the voice of the people be heard.

And, bringing change to matters where change has long been needed, but where there has been a lack of outcry to bring it about.

The People's Protest Society, then. The People's Protest Society would provide that outcry.

A Call for the EMEM to Help Restore Our Greatness

Got an idea for a dynamic addition to our society, to our education, and to the wellbeing of our nation.

How 'bout an adult education movement? How about abandoning the notion that systematic education ends with graduation from high school or college?
How 'bout a program for continuing education, one that marches with us right throughout our adult lives?
Now, in order to be a truly systematic program, we will have to set aside our time, make a block of our daily time available. Ever heard of release-time seminary? Let's follow a little along those lines.
We'll establish an early-morning education system. There will be classes available to adults before their work hours.
And, what shall we teach? Why, politics, of course! I say this only partially in jest, as there can be taught whatever it is organizers will teach, but I do believe politics should be part of it.
Instead of politics and religion being taboos, those are perhaps the two things we should discuss the most, they being more important than most anything else -- even more important than the NBA lockout.
So, I call for this new movement. I call for an education movement. I call for a movement of adult education. Let systematic education no longer end when we pass from puberty, for I ask, why should our earnest efforts to become educated end with college? Let's have a system for formal education that continues with us throughout our lives.
Why is it, I ask, that the U.S. must fall behind other nations in education? Can we do nothing to halt the slide? Will we do nothing? Lift your feet, America. Do not let your past greatness end. Education was part of your greatness -- and is part of your greatness. It was and is one of the engine that brought you to the top, that spawned and continues to spawn your great inventions. 
So, America, steady this ship, return to your spot as the most-educated nation in the world.

I call for this early-morning education movement. Let us have a large blanket of early-morning classes. Let classes be found in our libraries and in our schools and wherever classrooms are available. Let companies  open their doors before working hours, welcoming workers to show early for these study courses. 
The EMEM, we can call it, short for the Early-Morning Eduction Movement. And, though I throw this idea out knowing it won't be taken up, and though I realize the thought of it will probably will not even reach the public, yes, I do think it would be a wonderful thing.
A wonderful, wonderful thing, this EMEM, one that could help restore this nation to its greatness.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Protest of One -- and in a Vacuum

A bride-to-be and her photographer were on the stately, marble stairs on the opposite side of the rotunda. At the top of them, the two who looked like tourists from Mexico began to make their way down. Somewhere in the building, there was a family of five, with one of the kids having an arm in a cast.

But, looking around, I could see no one who looked like they were here for my protest. It was just me. So, I took out my marking pen, and wrote on a poster sheet,

"A Protest of One."

Then I picked up my two picket signs -- the other saying, "Redistricting should serve the people, not the politicians" -- and displayed them.

To no one.

This was at the Utah Capitol, but it was Saturday, and no public officials were there. Not only had I thrown a party and no one came, but I was holding the protest in a void, a vacuum: No public officials and no press to be had.

Alas, alas.

After 40 minutes, I picked up my signs and headed upstairs. Knocking on the doors to the senate and house chambers, I sang a reworded version of a Paul McCartney song. "Someone's knocking on the door. Somebody's ringing the bell. Do me a favor, and open the door, and let 'em in. Speaker Lockhart, President Waddoups, Governor Herbert, Sergeant at Arms, Do me a favor, and let us in."

The final maps for the redistricting had been drawn behind closed doors, in the Republican Party caucus meeting.

Going up another flight of stairs, I found the balcony to the House chamber had been left unlocked. So, I went in and sang my song again.

As I left, I noticed a placard next to the door, announcing that the room held 197 people. I had wondered when I had been there the night the legislature approved the Congressional redistricting, just how many people the balcony held. It seems the state's business should be valued enough by the public that occasionally more than a couple hundred would show.

Guess not.

I walked out, and exited the Capitol about an hour after I had arrived, singing the McCartney song one more time as I stepped down the outside stairs..

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Redistricting was Wrong, and Demands a Protest

As redistricting fades weeks into the past, we might wonder if the moment has passed, if we are just going to say, "Oh, Well,' and move along.

As if no wrong has happened..

And, is there a wrong?

Is it wrong to spend $1 million for public input, then to set it aside and slip behind closed doors, the public barred from even listening in on the most influential part of the process?

Is that not wrong?

Is it wrong to for state legislators to draw their own districts? Is it wrong if they set aside the best districting that can be done for the public, and instead draw the lines to best ensure their own reelections, the good of the politicians trumping the good of the people?

Is that not wrong?

Is it not wrong to draw the lines to advance political careers? Do we say, this is not about serving the public, but about serving the favored politicians?

Is that not wrong?

Is it wrong to serve your own political party, drawing the lines for its advantage, instead of weighing only what lines will best serve the public?

Is that not wrong?

If a map ean be drawn that is best for the public, but you change it up to serve the politician, that is wrong. Politics should have been the last consideration when those lines were drawn.

So, if these things are wrong, are we to sit idly by? Are we to say, "They've already done it now, and weeks have past," and shuffle along?

They won't go back and do it right unless we tell them to, unless we protest. Oh, there might not be enough people who will protest to make any difference at all, but it does so surely seem a protest ought to be organized to at least give people the option of expressing their displeasure.

For Edmund Burke was right. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." If we continue to sit and do nothing, the wrongs will prevail. It will be too late, and the moment will pass.

The bills can be revisited. They can be changed. At the moment, it is not too late. This can, yet, be corrected. The process is as important as the product, and we should demand they go back and carry out the process correctly.

Oh, and a protest will be set, either for Saturday, Nov. 12 or for Saturday, Nov. 19,  noon, at the Capitol. If these things do matter to you, do attend. Your being there will make a difference.