Election season is upon us. Democracy raises its head, and hope bursts forth as we the people choose representatives to enact our values. Unfortunately, few of us actually speak with our neighbors about our values and how they impact issues of governance. We might bitch and complain, whine and pontificate about how awful it is, and how stupid our elected officials are, but very few know anything specific about legislative issues that impact the quality of our life. Even fewer have ever attended a public meeting, or called an elected official’s office or read anything more than the voters’ pamphlet. And fewer still have contributed time, talent or treasure to actually help someone get elected. When it comes to politics we tend to get very shy. Like sex and religion, politics is mostly private. We don’t want to intrude on others with our opinions, our questions, our doubts or our desires.
Which unfortunately is exactly how the wealthy want us to behave. The more privatized we become, the more their money can fund their agenda to make more money for themselves. And make no mistake; a lot is at stake in our current city council elections. Are you loving the traffic around Seattle these days? Are you in awe at the splendor of massive buildings emerging even in your residential neighborhood? Are you oh-so-happy with how the police treat us as if we are an enemy-people to be controlled and mistrusted? Are you just peppy that more people are begging and, despite multiple millions of tax dollars, homelessness is growing? Are you bursting with optimism that your newly graduated kids will have job opportunities that will allow them to raise their families? Are you giddy with the rising value of your house? Have you thought through where you will live once you sell it?
These are all political issues. These are all legislative matters. These are the conundrums that our elected representatives struggle with as they try to find solutions that keep intact a city that values all its people, not merely a few who own most everything. And that’s my point. If you do not invest a bit of your time, talent and treasure into these city council elections then those who do invest not only win but rule and reign. Because guess what? The wealthy are investing. The developers are investing. The money speculators and financiers are investing. And quite often those who invest don’t even live here, like the $48,000 given by the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors to candidate Kris Lethin in the District 5 primary. To be fair, Lethin might be a great dude, but everyone knows that you dance with the one who brings you to the party.
Time to wake up, folks. The future is now.