Sunday, November 8, 2015

A citizen revolution

There are always two sides to a story, and when politics is involved there could be dozens of sides. Please keep this in mind while reading this post.

Two years ago, in Jefferson County, Colorado (west suburbs of Denver) three "reformists" were elected to the school board. With five on the board they became the majority and immediately showed it. They did not want to negotiate with teachers, they wanted to invest more into charter schools, they liked the idea of pay for performance (of students) and they didn't have any use for rules of how the board should work. They hired an expensive lawyer just for the three of them, a lawyer who specializes in representing school board members just like them.

My personal problems with them were that one of the seemed to be the epitome of a misogynist in action and another, because of her religious beliefs, was not fond of gay people. These things are not good when serving 85,000+ students. I also saw constant disrespect for anyone who might disagree with the "reformists" as they moved full speed ahead on an agenda that seemed to be a checklist of education "reform".

Fast forward to this year and parents, students and others got enough signatures to bring a recall to vote. This vote happened this past week and all three "reformists" were voted out, in a landslide.

I called it a citizen revolution. I was ecstatic. Not only because of the results, but because of the huge outpouring of support in the community to work towards a recall.

Those supporting the "reformists" called it union thuggery taking hold. No matter where you looked, the word union was used everywhere when speaking against the recall.

114,000 citizens voted for the recall. Yet these folks were called union pawns, stupid, mindless and many other words that dehumanize them and simplify a vote that was so much more than union versus non union.

Takeaways for me are:

When people don't vote, bad things happen. No matter your view on anything, this is true.

If you have interest in any type of activism, pay attention to politics and vote. This has been almost a life-long mantra for me.

Just because something "is" right now doesn't mean it has to be. I saw people who had not been politically active take their frustration with the school board and use it to make change.

Don't be a jerk. I ran into this a lot and called many names and judged by all sorts. Treating other people like this does nothing for your cause. If you can't present your side and stick to the facts without demonizing someone else, be quiet. Especially online, where the whole world can see how terrible you look.

Political change is possible. Again, no matter what you believe or what you see that you don't like in any forum where the participants are elected. The citizen revolution that happened in Jefferson County can happen anywhere.

No election is local anymore. Money, and lots of it, comes from everywhere. It's just how things are now.

Finally, one person can make huge change. Add them to another person who wants to make change, and so on, and you have a citizen revolution.

 A citizen revolution is possible anywhere. If it can happen in Jefferson County, Colorado, it can happen anywhere.

Thanks very much for reading.

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