Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Now Hear Us!

While reading about the 2005 Jefferson Center Muzzles, something I'd thought about previously came to mind. The Muzzles cited both major parties for their treatment of protesters. The right to protest and dissent is central to our democracy. It should be cherished, not stifled. We should all be concerned about the treatment given to protesters. The next hot issue may be one which makes us want to join a protest. How would we care to be treated?

The thought that occurred to me, however, is that I wonder just how effective such protests really are. Lawmakers and decision makers are very insulated from us now. There are so many layers of security, lobbyists, and staff between ordinary citizens and our representatives that it's difficult for us common citizens to make our voices heard. Town hall meetings with the President are filled with partisan crowds, so very little real discussion of issues is heard. I'm not much on going to marches, but I do often send e-mails or letters to national and state officials. I wonder how effective even that is. We need to find ways to (civilly, of course) break through and get our decision makers to pay attention. Maybe they should be required to visit a grocery store at least once a month. They could meet us and see the challenges some people face in order to feed a family. Maybe there should be "People's" press conferences (regularly, not just during debating season) where ordinary folks are selected by lottery to ask questions. Maybe there should be some limits on the access lobbyists have. Maybe, as was mentioned earlier, there should be real campaign finance reform. What do you think?

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