…And it’s time to build it back.
After reading “Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning and Connection for the America We Want” by Frances Moore Lappe and Adam Eichen, I recognize this mess we’re currently in with wealth concentrated at the tippy-tippy-top of the food chain is a 50-year endeavor by the Exploitive Class. And it’s just gone too far. The pendulum has become a guillotine and swung recklessly. Those of us who ignorantly felt safe because we naively believed in the American Dream are discovering the stark reality. There exists no feeling of security anymore, no confidence in healthcare, no trust in banking. The safety net is gone. There’s no confidence we won’t be cast to the wind and end up in a tent alongside a freeway in Orange County, California someday soon.
Sure, it’s easy to romantically reminisce about the past. We had MLK building (and crossing) bridges, JFK aiming for the moon and LBJ leading passage of the Civil Rights Act. Yes, there was racism, there were poor people, there was crime. The American Life was less than perfect, but many of us believed the future would be better. I don’t sense that we believe that today. People are scared.
How To Rebuild Our Dream:
1. Listen and Do Research on Candidates for Public Office. Go to candidate meetings and ask them questions about what they’re going to do about health care costs, college costs and public transportation. Meet with you friends or attend community meetings that flesh out the candidates’ records on the truth. Educate yourself on how these people have conducted themselves in the past.
2. Vote, Dammit! Pick the candidate that you believe will do the most for your community and make time in your schedule to vote. Employers are required to allow you to vote. If yours won’t, fire them!
3. Attend a state, county, village, town or school board meeting at least once per month. Get an agenda and get up and speak about what’s important to you at the public portion. Maybe it’s affordable housing, maybe it’s police protection. Perhaps it’s bullying in your school or bias in your community. If you want to check how public portions are conducted ahead of time, call the office before and ask, or show up to the meeting early and ask the person managing the meeting. If you want help preparing your message, email me. I’d be happy to help.
4. Ask your doctor to tell you, upfront, what your responsible for paying and if your insurance covers her/his services. Ask if you will be responsible for anything except the co-pay. It’s becoming commonplace for doctors’ offices to send follow-up bills after each visit because the insurance companies are short-changing them. Also, ask what the uninsured rate for their service is. I discovered I would have paid less for a dermatological procedure last year if I had paid the “uninsured rate” then I did putting it through my healthcare insurance and paying all the follow-up bills. A colleague of mine recently went to the dentist with a troublesome tooth and left with an $8,000 implant. Excuse me!?!? It rolls downhill, folks and the insurance companies have figured out how to gerrymander coverage so they pay the least possible amount. Why are hearing aids not covered for older adults? Isn’t being able to hear a justifiable health concern?
5. Join a Community Group. Progressive East End Reformers (PEER), North Fork Unity Action Committee, Racial Justice East End, Maureen’s Haven. There are many out there to choose from. Or start your own group meeting with friends. Talk about your concerns and listen to what others are thinking about how to solve them. Attend a rally that addresses the issues you care about. Pick a book about an issue that is important to you and invite four friends to also read it, then come together and discuss ways to have impact.
6. Call People “In”. We’ve gotten so hostile with each other in recent years. Screaming at each other, insulting each other on Facebook, shaming each other, writing angry letters to the editor calling people out. It’s also known as “performative outrage” and it’s just toxic! Calling In still points out someone’s bad behavior, but privately, with compassion and invites them into a discussion about what took place. It may present an opportunity to talk about what’s important to both of you and find common ground. While it may not always work, it’s certainly worth a try!
7. Pay it forward. Life is more than transactional. Sure, it’s true that “one good turn deserves another,” but it doesn’t have to always be tit-for-tat. Share the gifts we have without expecting anything in return. The world is a big, delicious bowl of ice cream, with more than enough sprinkles of kindness to go around. Sharing is caring and it’s amazing to watch it come back from places we may never expect.
8. VOTE! I had to say it again. Get your friends, family and neighbors to do it too! Healthcare, Equal Rights, Money In Politics, Prison Reform, Immigration all get decided by the women and men we elect. And please, let’s elect more women and people of culture/color to our political offices. Until there’s an equal balance of women and men and people of culture represented in positions of power, patriarchy and racism will always prevail.
True Democracy is not the concentration of power among the few: corporate power, economic power, political power, white power, patriarchal power. True Democracy is the dispersion of power among the many people in our communities and within our country, ensuring a balance and fairness with equal representation. Let’s take this puppy back and get on with taking care of each other, rebuilding the dream of a better future for us all. 2020 is our year to turn the tide.
Michael Daly is an East Ender, Founder of East End YIMBY and President of the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork in Bridgehampton. He’s always happy to hear from you and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org