Times really must be changing in America. The age-old tradition of electing people to represent our values in Washington, Concord and in our own towns and cities just doesn’t seem to be enough anymore.
Until recently, political parties would compete with one another for the right to represent people in government for the next term, and the losing constituency would begrudgingly agree to limit their activism to grumbling beneath their breath or maybe an occasional letter to the editor. That probably was because there really wasn’t that much difference between each party’s direction or methods. Not anymore.
For the third time in as many weeks I have been asked to join or lead efforts that make plebeian statements or resolutions vociferously opposing positions taken by elected officials. And, these aren’t isolated to just Keene or New Hampshire. These movements are happening across the country.
The most recent was a resolution by the Keene City Council to re-affirm America’s commitment to climate action. That’s winding it’s way through the process and willculminate, I predict, in a unanimous vote by the council on Thursday. In this town, it seems to be a no-brainer that President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Action Accord was ridiculous, if not evil.
Last week, members of the Monadnock Progressive Alliance asked me to shepherd a resolution opposing Trump’s radical stance on immigration.This particular resolution is well-written, and addresses how local law enforcement should best use their limited resources in enforcing aggressive Federal witch hunts. And, the county sheriff has already come out strongly with his own policy on the matter. I have advised the group to hold off until after the climate action resolution has passed, but am still a little concerned that using this new grass-roots tool too frequently will test the patience of councilors who generally oppose activist’s resolutions because they feel their job is just to keep the local water running.
Alas, now there’s the President’s formation of a voter fraud commission that’s asking state governments to turn over voter data that goes beyond what political parties have been purchasing from states for years. Our Secretary of State, William Gardner, was chosen to be a member and has since agreed to turn over the voter information. The governor agrees. This action involves local government, since our city clerk is responsible for keeping voter data and shouldn’t be required to participate in this bogus distraction.
The push-back against Trump’s agenda is as historic as is his departure from usual presidential policy making, and people seem to be depending upon local elected officials more and more to come to their defense as their confidence in state and national government diminishes.
And, the people aren’t being unreasonable in that belief. Trump wants to diminish climate action so the fossil fuel industry can continue to pollute the planet. Trump wants to attack immigration because he knows that is an issue that will divide and distract us. The voter fraud commission is an unabashed effort to divert attention away from the treason and espionage that stole the presidential election from the American people and threatens to undermine the very roots of our democracy.
So, as much as it is the city council’s job to keep the water running, it is also it’s job to give people a voice in areas where their voice has been muted. This is especially true in areas where local governments are being asked to use local resources to enforce corrupted national policies. Maybe the course to democracy does run through local government afterall.
Look for these initiatives in the coming weeks.