The protests concerning the shooting of Michael Brown have appeared to died down but the anger is still there.
I saw a post on Facebook calling for the revitalization of the Occupy movement that appeared three years ago in New York City and sprung up in various cities.
The person forgot to mention the most important place to occupy.
The voting booth.
Nearby where Brown was killed an impromptu memorial was set up. There was also a voter registration table was set up. This was a town that had a majority black population but a majority of city council members and other town officials were white. This was a case of the city's institutions were both not reflective of their city's population and not being aware of the issues that the city faces.
In 2012, the turnout for the US Presidential Election nationally was 58%. Two years prior in the election for all 435 House seats, turnout was barely 40%. Heading into this midterm election it is looking like the turnout will be the same again. It is very likely that the Republicans will keep control of the House while the US Senate is up for grabs. In order for the House to flip, Democrats need to have wave type election in their favor. Neither party appears to have a wave in their favor.
I have said this before in previous writings but it is not enough to have President Obama in the White House. While the president has called for the review of distributing military equipment to local police, it is just as important to have a congress who is willing to go along with this shift in policy.
Though the Democrats control the Senate, it is the Republicans who control the House. Since 20 January 2009, it has been the policy of the Republicans in congress to "Just Say No." Whatever President Obama proposes, the tactic is to stall, delay, and give the appearance that the president has done nothing so that he and his party can suffer the consequences of the next election.
This is a mindset that American voters, particularly Democratic Party voters need to break.
Turnout is higher in presidential elections, but the power to create laws comes from the legislative branch. Specifically Congress. Those elections matter just as much as the presidential contest that takes place in years divisible by four.
As you go further down the ballot, the turnout decreases. In my brief time in the political realm, I've seen turnout for local elections in the single digits. Those elections matter too because they have just as much impact on you personally.
I remember someone from Texas saying this (and I am paraphrasing the person, so forgive me): "Yes, it's nice that President Obama is in the White House. But he is not going to fill the pot holes on Main Street. He's not on the local school board. Those have more impact on me."
Here in nearby Jefferson County, candidates that ran on a platform supporting a school voucher system won and it has created chaos on the school board. People are not pleased with what happened. In part, those voters are to blame because it was an off year election which normally means that people will not show up to vote. The Daily Show displayed this issue with the state senators who were recalled over supporting legislation to expand background checks before purchasing firearms. Those recall elections were a low turnout affair.
The events in Ferguson, MO are all connected to a lot of things due to the bad habit of political inaction by Democrats and other liberal leaning persons.
So you want to end police abuse and misbehaviors? You think that police departments shouldn't have military style weapons and armaments? You think that police should be required to wear cameras?
Maybe those aren't your issues. How about better funding for public schools? Fixed roads and a 21st century public works system? The environment?
Occupying and carrying a protest sign is one way. Another way is contacting the people who represent you not just in Congress but also in the State Legislature and city council.
Have you considered attending a lobby day? I have done two for LGBT rights & issues, one in Texas and one in Colorado. I would like to go to more for issues that interest me such as education, women, and veterans.
Maybe finding a candidate who shares your issues and have them run for office. It doesn't have to be for president or congress. It could be for a state legislative office, city council member, or even school board. Shoot, run for office yourself. The thought of me running for office has crossed my mind a couple of times. Get in touch with someone in a local political party and see if they can point you in the right direction.
I hope that the people of Ferguson, MO realize that they have a lot of power to change things. Taking to the streets to address your grievances and outrage is one way. This is what the Occupy movement did in 2011. It drew some analogies of what the Tea Party was to Republicans. It appeared that the Democrats were experiencing a challenge from the left. In some ways it was, but there was one KEY difference.
The Tea Party co-opted and took over the Republican Party because they had a message. An angry, hateful message. But it was a message. I felt the overall message of Occupy was that there were a lot of issues that had been ignored over the last 30 years, but they didn't have an actual message and they painted themselves as a so-called leaderless movements. Over the last few years Occupy has kind of fizzled out and been centralized in college towns. The Tea Party has conquered the Republican Party.
In closing, the lesson from Ferguson is this: Democracy is a participatory event. We are now inside 9 weeks from Election Day 2014. Just because this election cycle ends doesn't mean that the democratic process stops.
Much like democracy, the Ferguson story will still continue on.