What Can We Do?
Is American Democracy Hopeless?
The most expensive Senate campaign ever is underway in Kentucky. Millions will be spent, most of which is coming from outside of the state. It’s an outrage, and a demonstration of the dysfunctional campaign finance system that has corrupted our democratic process. Polling shows that over 90% of Americans think we should get the big money out of politics, but few people see much hope of that actually happening.
A small but crafty group of people had the inspiration to publicize the corrupt Tennessee race with humor. They did a kick-start fundraiser with a goal of only $12,000 to launch the project and it has been so wildly successful that it has raised over $100,000 and is still growing. Using the money raised, the group has made and published mock campaign ads for “Honest” Gil Fulbright who unabashedly vows he will represent only those who pay him well.
The fact that Mitch McConnell and his rivals are not acknowledging the influence this money has on their actions as politicians is what gives Gil’s message its satirical bite. The videos have gone viral on the web and have hit most of the TV news media. Now Honest Gil has a campaign bus with vinyl graphics and is “stumping” in Tennessee and New Hampshire.
This is a wonderful example of how a grass roots effort can have an impact upon the national conversation and attitude. I personally think it is part of a much larger trend that will shift the political environment.
There are many small groups that are focusing on individual issues. Because they are not centrally organized, they remain below the media radar. But taken in aggregate, they represent an imposing force for change. Paul Hawken of Bioneers documented this phenomenon in a short video that scrolls the names of thousands of such organizations.
In a cynical time we should celebrate the “blessed unrest” … and participate.