Friday, February 18, 2011

In defense of Neighbor to Neighbor

In response to the attacks on N@N in the T&G comments


So what's democracy? Is is a system of voting? A set of rules? A way of legitimizing the rule of the rich and powerful with a public sign-off?

Or is democracy about the rule of the people? Maybe even "by the people, for the people?"

Because if that's what democracy is we've drifted a long, long way away from it. Most of the working people in Worcester, immigrants and native English speakers alike, don't bother to vote any more, and will tell you flat out it's because they don't think their vote makes a difference. The people they elect can't or won't do what they promise, and then they forget about us.

And who can blame them for thinking that? We send people - mostly good people - off to City Hall, Beacon Hill, Washington, yet things keep getting worse. And many of them do get sucked into the system and lose track of what's real out here.

So is that democracy?

Democracy - to be real - has to be much more than voting. Voting is maybe 10% of it. It requires people being organized to support their neighbors, standing with each other, looking out for each other and defending each other. Democracy is not just politicians having to go to the people for their votes, but having to answer to the people for what they do - and being held accountable, not just every two or four years, but every time they come home.

And democracy is about people looking out for sick and aged neighbors, organizing a neighborhood watch, making sure teens have something useful to do and guiding them. Stopping an unfair eviction and turning out to demand the hospital give a life-saving treatment to a neighbor. Making sure no one goes hungry or freezes.

And then it's neighbors making sure their neighbors get to the polls and know how to vote for the candidate they've all agreed on.

That's who Neighbor to Neighbor is. They are the beating heart of our dying democracy, struggling to fan it back to life. If they made mistakes - I don't know - they were not corrupt ones.
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