Sunday, January 22, 2012

Moving Beyond Politics by Empowering the People

What if Environment Canada issued a tornado warning for your area?  And what if along with that warning they offered suggestions to keep you safe?  Things like moving into the basement; covering yourself with blankets and staying away from your windows.  You would certainly heed their advice, since it's based on scientific knowledge.

However, what if a lobby group, wanting to undermine the scientific community, told you to ignore the warnings? We'll call them the International Damnifying Idealist Organization for the Takeover of Sensibility, or I.D.I.O.T.S. for short.

And what if I.D.I.O.T.S., instead suggested that the warnings were unfounded?  Merely an attempt by criminals to get you in the basement, covered in blankets and away from the windows,  so they could steal your stuff.

Confused?  Science or a noisy lobby group?

Now what if a group of Nobel prizing winning scientists told you that a devastating change in climate, brought on by the warming of the planet, could make a tornado look like a balloon losing air?  And what if along with that warning they offered suggestions to keep you safe by slowing down that warming, but it would involve major changes by industry and yourself.

However, what if several lobby groups and short-sighted individuals, wanting to undermine the scientific community, told you to ignore the warnings?  We'll call them Exxon, friends of Exxon and the Harper government.

Confused? Science or the money and power behind I.D.I.O.T.S.?

This week President Obama, when pressured by another group backed by the oil industry, we'll call them the Republicans; announced that he would not support the XL pipeline, that would transport bitumen from Canada to the U.S. for refining.

Canada may not care about the environment, but he did.

However, he could not have taken such a stand, had it not been for another noisy lobby group.  We'll call them The People.  Backed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, they empowered Obama to act on behalf of the majority and do what was right.

The Toronto Star had an oped piece this week, written by someone suggesting that Obama's move was purely political.  An attempt to get re-elected.  We'll call him American journalist Robert O. Samuelson.

Bill Moyers, another American journalist, was on Bill Maher this week, and he saw Obama's decision as something else.  The oil industry pushing for XL, and their wholly owned subsidiary (we'll call them the Harper government), put $42 million into the pockets of politicians in an attempt to undermine democracy. 

But the NRDC, and other environmental groups, instead put millions of voters at Obama's doorstep.

Moyers had worked with Lyndon Johnson, when Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964.  When headlines applauded the move, Johnson told Moyers that the Democrats had just lost the South for a generation, and he was right.  But the South didn't dictate, the majority did, and the Act was the right thing to do for the majority of Americans.

FDR's New Deal met with the same opposition by big business in the 1930s, but he asked the people to put the power behind him.  "Make me do the right thing".

Moyers believes that this is why the Occupy movement is a good thing for these times.  Instead of empowering politicians to work against our best interests, by allowing noisy lobby groups to work on behalf on the top 1%, we have to empower them to work for us.

We are the only ones who can build  integrity into the political process.

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