It is a pleasant late summer day as I sit and write this article. I just read the September issue of
the Communicator my union paper with particular attention paid to two articles 1) the
Presidents message which echoes many things I believe especially exercising your right to Vote.
Two is know your labor history written by staff writer Deborah Miles. An excerpt from her
article reads “as the history of Labor Day Plays a part in its observance, workers also think
about the past and the future.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists and I did not speak out-because I was not a Trade
Unionist. So begins one of World War II’s most famous poems by German pastor Martin
Niemoller, describing one of humanities greatest wrongs the Holocaust. The poem has become
a symbol of inaction in the face of great evil. The ability to perceive less-than- obvious
relationships has always been the intelligence of the environmental movement. That
movement began by recognizing the common threat to a wide range of life from a scarred or
polluted environment. Ecologists most effective teaching has been the lesson of connection.
Think of John Muir’s often quoted line: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it
hitched to everything else in the universe.” How does a wrong affect all of us in our wide range
of activities? This is an intelligence that we, as a people, can have about our democracy.
The United States is filled with passionate activists driven to solve social and economic
challenges. Groups like the Sierra Club organize individuals with the goal of protecting our
environment. There are activists in the labor movement, pushing for decent wages for all
workers. Others demand affordable health care. Or better schools. Or a secure social security
system. Or equal access to college education. Or gun safety. Or a humane system of
immigration that welcomes as citizens the people who have come to and to love America.
What these activists must now see is that all these projects face a common threat: the threat of
a failed corrupted democracy. We have allowed our republic to be captured by special
interests, because we force representatives to raise money for their campaigns from those
same special interest. Members of Congress and candidates spend anywhere from 30% to 70%
of their time raising money. Yet they don't receive that money from all of us. They receive that
money from the smallest fraction of the 1% of us. Less than .03 percent of Americans gave the
maximum contribution to candidates in 2012. That's a tiny number with extraordinary power in
a democracy! The clean up our polluted political system will require all citizens. Until we work
together to remedy the corruption of money in politics-until we can establish a democracy
responsive to all of us not just a few nothing will change!
Chair, Chemung County Democratic Committee