Thursday, February 05, 2004

pocketbook activism

call it an emotional imbalance or just knee-jerk reactionary liberalism, but reading the papers tends to make my blood pressure shoot out the roof and my jaw ache from all my teeth-gritting.

the office was a little slow, i hadn't taken my vitamin, so i was desultorily scrolling through my morning editions - talkingpointsmemo, nytimes, atrios, salon, you know, the usual. then one link led to another and i found myself at, a non-profit that researches connections between money and politics--basically, who gives it and who gets it.

reading how private industry, through PACs and trade associations, lobby the political parties shamelessly and pour millions into their coffers made me take out my checkbook for the first time ever and write a series of checks: to NARAL, Planned Parenthood, the DNC, and an obscure congressional race in Kentucky that could be the first step in taking back the House from the RePoobs. they weren't large checks, because i don't have large pockets, but that was unimportant.

if our political process is important to us, then it is equally important for us ordinary citizens to participate through volunteering, through injecting our voices into public debate (yes, write that nutbag letter to the editor), and through our paltry dollars. on opensecrets, i read that out of all the dollars contributed to various politicians, organizations or issues, only a teeny-tiny-teeny come from individuals like you and me. the rest, the vast majority of buying power comes from special interest groups. aren't we an interest group?

the checks i wrote yesterday were the equivalent of two really great dinners (with wine) in chicago or one hormonal shopping trip on a weekend at nordstrom's.

i think our political future is worth a pair of shoes.

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