Planning Ahead

There are lots of opportunities to protest, to demonstrate, to march.  A lot of people are organizing, rallying, taking part.  Peaceful protests by people who feel they have no other means of changing things, no other way to make their positions clear, is part of a long and honorable tradition.  Non-violent protests led by Gandhi and others were a major contribution to the end of British rule in India.  Marches and peaceful sit-ins at segregated lunch counters and in segregated waiting rooms in bus terminals and train stations were an important part of the civil rights movement in the U.S.  The silent vigils held by grandmothers in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires started the movement to find the children of people who were killed or simply disappeared during Argentina’s “dirty war” and to restore many of those children to their families.

We should protest.  We should demonstrate.  We should march.  We should try to change things, change them for the better.

Change can come in other ways too.  Sometimes we can just vote for it.  Sometimes it’s right there on the ballot waiting for us to choose it.  Sometimes it’s that easy.  But it usually isn’t.  Most of the time, we have to work for it.  It’s hard work, and it takes a long time.

You can get involved in the process when there’s a crisis, of course, but we’ll all be better off if you get involved before that and stay involved.

Go to the board meetings and committee meetings in town.  Read about the issues that are being debated and the solutions that are being proposed.  Tell your representatives what you think before they vote.  Listen to what they say.  You might be able to work something out.

Pay attention to what’s happening in Hartford.  Connecticut is big and complex.  There are a lot of people.  There are cities and suburbs and towns, rich people and poor people, small businesses and big businesses and farms.  The issues are big and complex too.  Compromise may be difficult, but it’s usually better than doing nothing and blaming some other representative – or that other representative’s constituents.  Tell your representatives what you think about proposed legislation, about approaches to solving problems, about things that aren’t being addressed but should be.  Drum up support for your idea.  You may be able to influence the outcome.

Plan ahead.  The next presidential election is four years away, but we’ll have public hearings on the town budget and the school budget early in the new year and a Town Meeting in the Spring.  We’ll be asked to vote on some parts of the budget at the meeting and on other parts in a referendum soon after that.  We’ll have caucuses and conventions then too, and we’ll choose candidates for the municipal elections next November.

Get involved.  Stay informed.  Contribute to the debate.  Vote.  Protest when you have to.

The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides this column.