Today has been a very strange, almost exciting day. Not exactly how I imagined it would be, but sometimes that is a good thing. It started with my not going back to bed until 4am and promptly waking up at 7, as if I had a normal night’s sleep. And for whatever reason, I opted to get up and make coffee and the smell was just amazing. Usually, I am so used to the smell I don’t even notice it, but this morning – it was as if I had never smelled it before. I should have taken that as a sign.
I went to walk down to my café/office and half way there, chugging down the sidewalk with my head in the clouds – I noticed the squad cars blocking the way up a head. And then I noticed the police tape. And then I noticed the fire trucks, the huge white escalades part diagonally across the street and the extreme quietness of the street. As I got closer, one of the officers began to take the tape down so I kept right on going. There were people standing outside the bank and one woman (who had just arrived and was oblivious to the squad cars, escalades and 12 other unmarked cars with flashing lights) asked, “Is the bank closed?” And the people lined up to go in looked at her for a moment and said, “There was a bomb scare, they are just getting ready to open up again.” I kept on going and as I passed the Escalades, I looked over and saw the radio controlled robo bomb sniffer mini tank thing.
None of this was reported in the news. The odd/sad thing is that when I talked about it with a few people they all had the same knee jerk reaction, “I bet it was the 99%.” That reaction to me reveals more about the opinion held of the Occupiers than any news report or press release. Mind you , the people saying this are technically part of the 99% (but not part of the Occupy scene) and hold many of the same opinions/complaints as the Occupiers and were cautiously supportive of them before, but over the past few weeks – there has been a steady shift from support for the campers to a kind of…well…disgust and anger. There is no other way to put it. The New Year’s move in NYC has proven to be the last straw for many people. Not the part with the scissors, but the part where on one of the most difficult nights for the police, when they are stretched very thin, that the protestors choose to engage in what can only be described as a half assed prank just to stretch the police even thinner. In essence, they chose to put people’s lives in danger for a bit of press and grandstanding and that rates as a huge “so not cool” with a lot of people. That and the scene in that coffee shop. It will be interesting how Occupy moves to try to regain the sympathy and support of people. I have read some comments on their sites that there is an awareness of the damage done by the antics over the past week, but there are stronger voices that just plain and simple – don’t care.
This brings me to the Iowa caucus and the online poll nonsense going on. Depending on who you want to win Iowa – you can find a reporting poll that supports you. On g+ I have been highly amused by the spin that people are putting on the polls – I mean really, with only 1% of the poll sites reporting you can predict the winner? However, on a lot of the poll/blog/article combo sites there are some strongly comments about the sheer bias of the people reporting.
Which led to several discussions about how unwilling or lacking in time or skill people have become that they do not bother to check the sources or political connections of the places where they get their news.
By this time, I had way too much coffee so I took off to Salvation Army. I needed a cosmic teddy bear (don’t ask, but now I have a bear with permanent earmuffs and a scarf). Got the bear and scored a travel guitar that whoever priced it thought was a child’s toy because of its size.
A walk in the cold cleared my head and I went back to the café and back on line. To find a link to something that is probably the most exciting online site I have seen in a long time. Not just exciting, but with all the complaints I just listed in this blog, the first sign of hope in a very confused world.
You can register with popvox as an individual or get your organization an account for free. On popvox, you will find links to every bill that has been submitted to congress – from ones that are in the House or Senate to fresh bills that are in committee. You can go and read a summary of the bill, the entire bill, see who presented it, who supports it etc and so forth. Then, you can choose whether you are for or against the bill. You can opt for a form letter or to send a personalized message to your Representative or Senator (the site requires you enter a verifiable name, address and phone number). Hit send and your message is posted to your legislator.
Now….here is what makes it different from anything else out there. Technically, the legislator’s staff sorts through, reads all the communication from constituents, and then summarize whether or not they support a certain bill for the legislator. This does not happen often because it is a hell of a lot of work. Usually it only occurs on major bills with a lot of media coverage. What popvox does is create data summary reports that represent the combined views of all of the constituents responding to a particular bill and sends them to the legislator. It is a simple graphical report. The legislator can then opt to see the specific letters but what it does is give them a snapshot of the opinion of their district.
Now, being that the career of a politician is being a politician and it is lucrative – re-election is a primary concern. Having at their fingertips a summary of the opinions of their constituents cannot do anything but influence whether or not they support or decline a bill. For the first time ever, the public has a viable way of joining in the political game and gaining influence because it is a direct, immediate and constant way to keep the legislator informed of their chances for job security.
I was amazed at the bills that are in committee right now and the ones going through the House and Senate. Some of them stand to create a major impact on our society but you never hear about them.
Check it out, this is a way to empower yourself and have a true voice in the political process. But it will only work if the public uses it. The service is free and it can help prevent all of us from being blindsided by bills that we don’t find out about until it is too late to do anything about them. This can serve to redefine the protests are done. Right now, our protests are ineffective because they are modeled on the tactics used in the 60s. The world, communication and politics have changed greatly over the past 50 years. It’s time that our manner of protesting and being active does too.
c.2012. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.