Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Political Action

I asked Cammie if I could post on the political activist groups that have become more and more common in the last few years, and she thought it was a good idea. Many of these groups have become quite powerful forces for political action by making it easier for the average citizen to not only find out about the issues that are being debated and voted on in congress, but also to raise their voice in the political process by signing petitions and making direct contact with their representatives. I have been really impressed with the issues raised by some of these groups, how easy they make it to simply click an icon to send a pre-formatted letter to my representatives (or make a direct phone call just before an important vote), and just how effective they are in the political process. There have been a couple of petitions that I signed that were later included in a bill and actually passed into law. That is genuinely refreshing and empowering when it often feels like my vote doesn't count when compared to the billions of dollars spent by corporations and other political action committees and that there is little I can do to improve the political mess I see around me. I really feel like these groups are taking a big step towards fixing a broken system, and making the US a real democracy again by giving more power to the people.

I want to pass on some information about a couple of these political activist groups that I have been particularly impressed with in the hopes that it will be useful to others as well as stimulate some discussion that may point out other groups that I should become involved with. Below is an introductory video to True Majority Action. If you can't see the video in your browser you can also find it here.

Although I can't say that I support True Majority completely, I am glad to be involved with them. They linked me with, which is also worth looking into. I have to say that I have been a bit disappointed in the often overt partisan focus (and have expressed it to them), and so I have chosen not to take part in a couple of their petitions. However, having said that, I have gladly signed quite a number of the petitions they have emailed to me, and would not want to miss out on them just because there are others I don't think are necessary. To name just a few that I was most excited about- universal health care for children (which I believe was recently passed unless Pres. Bush vetoes it), more funding for alternative energy sources, taking back civil liberties lost in the Patriot Act (including habeas corpus and stopping the torture of prisoners), and stopping the federal funding that subsidizes the cost of farming for large corporations (which was originally intended for family owned and operated farms) that allows them to sell their produce in the US and internationally for less than it costs to produce (thereby giving them enormous advantage over smaller farms in the US as well as in places like Africa which purchase the produce from these corporations instead of their own farmers).

I know this is a long post, but I have to include the group that I think it would be very hard not to support- the One Campaign. Whatever you may think of Bono or celebrities preaching about their favorite of the world's problems, you have to recognize the good that the One Campaign does. They focus on more and better aid to impoverished countries to fight child mortality, HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and devastating poverty. The most impressive things to me about One are that they work through effective nonprofits who are on the ground in the impoverished countries instead of passing the funds off to corrupt government leaders, and also that One is genuinely effective at pressuring the US and foreign governments to take a more active role in dealing with these issues. When I saw all the celebrities endorsing One I imagined some sort of "hands across the world" program, but I have been impressed with how much they actually do and how good they are at it. Below is a video about the campaign, which can also be seen here.

If you know of other groups that you think others should be involved in, let us know!


charles said...

On my way to work this morning, I was listening to NPR, and they were talking about how each of the candidates for pres would most likely be yapping about health care and its options while campaigning, but how no matter what they say, the US population would not hold them accountable for the (possibly empty) promises they make during their campaign. As a result, the next president, the interviewer/interviewee were saying, will not actually change anything in regards to national health care. That really depressed me. Oh, and Bush will not be extending the national health care for children, I believe, but I don't know if he's actually vetoed anything...yet.

Also, you mentioned how True Majority is fighting to get "back civil liberties lost in the Patriot Act (including habeas corpus)," which reminded me of this great episode of "This American Life" where the guests were former prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and how they were not afforded Habeas Corpus. The actual title of the episode is "Habeas Schmabeas," and it goes into the history of habeas corpus and little stories about the right of h.c. in history. It's very cool and very sad, too.

Mom said...

I'm glad that you are an involved American, even though you are miles away. God bless America !!
I love this country and the freedom to express.

Cammie said...

Charla, isn't so strange that Americans just get mad and then don't really do anything in the end. I hope that congress will override the President's veto (if that happens).

Michelle said...

What a great post, Devon and I like the idea of at least participating in some organizations, so we feel like we are doing something, it's better than being a bystander. I agree with Charla it's totally depressing but I still think we at times underestimate the "power of the People". I will not be surprised if nothing changes with the new Pres., unfortunately I think most feel they don't have enough reasons to really be mad enough to act and instead rest on their good intentions. I will have to ask devon if he knows of any more worthy organizations. And also if you don't mind I want to direct the minuscule traffic on my blog to this post. One of our favorite books is Adventures of a Bystander by Peter F. Drucker. It's about his life and all the influential people he and his family were associated with in Europe before and after WWI and WWII, it's a very interesting read.

charles said...

I've actually e-mailed my representatives 3 times this week--one in regards to the FDA, one in regards to global warming, and one in regards to the ONE campaign. And I've e-mailed them before about other stuff, too.

Sometimes it's hard to know what else to do!

Bridget said...

I loved the videos. I laughed at the first and almost cried at the second. Thanks for those.

Cammie said...

Thanks for watching them. The first one is really great and basic--so crazy how much we spend on military compared to the rest of the world.

. . . and I just love the ONE Campaign for all the good it does. Such a smart idea that is really working to connect with people all over the US and make them feel a part of the process and a part of the world.

gian said...

Great leads. Its nice to have once suggested by people with similar views. It saves a lot of weeding through other groups.

Let's keep up the conversation.

Grant said...

Hey Jason, great post. I finally have a little more time now that i am graduated, and it will be good to reconnect with some of the causes that I have been concerned about over the years. It has been fun to check out your blog, if you are interested, you can check out brit and my blog at Hope all is well.