Run, don’t walk to rent Active Measures on iTunes — just released ($3.95). Trump really is Putin’s puppet. He has laundered billions of dollars of Russian oligarch/mafia money, beginning in 1984. Putin’s attack on our democracy put him in the White House — and is ongoing. You have to watch this today. You may find yourself telling everyone you know to watch it, too.
That’s the alarming, desperately important, dark thing.
Now for the reassuring, equally important, hopeful thing.
You’ve doubtless seen clips of President Obama’s recent speech. But it’s SO good, SO uplifting — SUCH a clear explanation of where we are as a nation and what we need to do as citizens — that I urge you to watch it all (it begins at 5:35 and runs 53 minutes) . . .
. . . or at least to read the transcript.
One election will not fix everything that needs to be fixed, but it will be a start.
And you have to start it.
What’s going to fix our democracy is you.
People ask me, what are you going to do for the election? No, the question is: What are YOU going to do? You’re the antidote. Your participation and your spirit and your determination, not just in this election but in every subsequent election, and in the days between elections.
Because in the end, the threat to our democracy doesn’t just come from Donald Trump or the current batch of Republicans in Congress or the Koch Brothers and their lobbyists, or too much compromise from Democrats, or Russian hacking. The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference. The biggest threat to our democracy is cynicism – a cynicism that’s led too many people to turn away from politics and stay home on Election Day. To all the young people who are here today, there are now more eligible voters in your generation than in any other, which means your generation now has more power than anybody to change things. If you want it, you can make sure America gets out of its current funk. If you actually care about it, you have the power to make sure we seize a brighter future. But to exercise that clout, to exercise that power, you have to show up.
In the last midterms election, in, fewer than one in five young people voted. One in five. Not two in five, or three in five. One in five. Is it any wonder this Congress doesn’t reflect your values and your priorities? Are you surprised by that?
. . . So if you don’t like what’s going on right now — and you shouldn’t — do not complain. Don’t hashtag. Don’t get anxious. Don’t retreat. Don’t binge on whatever it is you’re bingeing on. Don’t lose yourself in ironic detachment. Don’t put your head in the sand. Don’t boo. Vote.
If you are really concerned about how the criminal justice system treats African-Americans, the best way to protest is to vote – not just for Senators and Representatives, but for mayors and sheriffs and state legislators. Do what they just did in Philadelphia and Boston, and elect state’s attorneys and district attorneys who are looking at issues in a new light, who realize that the vast majority of law enforcement do the right thing in a really hard job, and we just need to make sure that all of them do.
If you’re tired of politicians who offer nothing but “thoughts and prayers” after amass shooting, you’ve got to do what the Parkland kids are doing. Some of them aren’t even eligible to vote, yet they’re out there working to change minds and registering people, and they’re not giving up until we have a Congress that sees your lives as more important than a campaign check from the NRA.
You’ve got to vote.
If you support the MeToo movement, you’re outraged by stories of sexual harassment and assault inspired by the women who shared them, you’ve got to do more than retweet a hashtag. You’ve got to vote.
Part of the reason women are more vulnerable in the workplace is because not enough women are bosses in the workplace which is why we need to strengthen and enforce laws that protect women in the workplace not just from harassment but from discrimination in hiring and promotion, and not getting paid the same amount for doing the same work. That requires laws. Laws get passed by legislators.
You’ve got to vote.
When you vote, you’ve got the power to make it easier to afford college, and harder to shoot up a school.
When you vote, you’ve got the power to make sure a family keeps its health insurance; you could save somebody’s life.
When you vote, you’ve got the power to make sure white nationalists don’t feel emboldened to march with their hoods off or their hoods on in Charlottesville in the middle of the day.
Thirty minutes. Thirty minutes of your time. Is democracy worth that?
We have been through much darker times than these, and somehow each generation of Americans carried us through to the other side. Not by sitting around and waiting for something to happen, not by leaving it to others to do something, but by leading that movement for change themselves. And if you do that, if you get involved, and you get engaged, and you knock on some doors, and you talk with your friends, and you argue with your family members, and you change some minds, and you vote, something powerful happens.
Change happens. Hope happens. Not perfection. Not every bit of cruelty and sadness and poverty and disease suddenly stricken from the earth. There will still be problems. But with each new candidate that surprises you with a victory that you supported, a spark of hope happens. With each new law that helps a kid read or helps a homeless family find shelter or helps a veteran get the support he or she has earned, each time that happens, hope happens. With each new step we take in the direction of fairness and justice and equality and opportunity, hope spreads.
And that can be the legacy of your generation. You can be the generation that at a critical moment stood up and reminded us just how precious this experiment in democracy really is, just how powerful it can be when we fight for it, when we believe in it. I believe in you. I believe you will help lead us in the right direction. And I will be right there with you every step of the way. Thank you, Illinois. God bless. God bless this country we love. Thank you.
Imagine if we could get turnout among young people up from fewer than one in five to more than two in five. We win everything.
Try to find time to read the whole speech. I think you’ll be glad you did.
Better still, watch it all.
And then . . .