Discourse / Letters / February 2, 2011

Letters to the Editor: Knox Democrats and effective activism

If there is a tragedy greater than the death of Senator Wellstone nine years ago, it is that his legacy has been so easily forgotten. For over a decade, Wellstone was the voice of the grassroots left. He was often on the bad end of 99-1 votes. His voice was clearest, though, when he encouraged citizens to engage in politics. “If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for,” he was fond of saying, “at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them.” I don’t see a lot of fight.

We’re at Knox; we have strong beliefs. But how often do we stand up for those beliefs? Last fall, the youth vote plummeted, youth participation plummeted and the Democratic Party lost control of the House of Representatives. Now, the goals that so many of us share: full civil rights for the LGBT community, protections for the environment, smart immigration reform, are blocked in Congress. So, do we believe what we claim to? How many of us voted? How many of us took the time to act on our convictions and make them real? Not enough. Instead, we passed on our responsibility. We blamed others: a President who had not met our every expectation or a party that did not listen to us. This when we would not make ourselves heard.

I am not here to call for marches or occupying Old Main. Those are cathartic thoughts, but they will not work. We need to dedicate ourselves to the kind of activism that traces its roots through Senator Wellstone to the great movements for change. We need to organize to be a force for a progressive agenda, both at the ballot box and away from it.

The Knox Democrats have been quiet for some time now. This is going to change. We are reforming to be a voice for a progressive agenda on campus. Come join us as we engage in effective activism.

Jim Hanson

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