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Published: Saturday, 1/5/2013

2013: Time for the silent majority to get loud

BY MARILOU JOHANEK
BLADE COLUMNIST

CAUTIOUSLY optimistic. They’re words used to hedge a bet. Hopeful with hesitation.

In 2013, don’t hesitate. Park the pessimism. All of it.

I will if you will. Let the hand-wringers stew. They like to wallow in a world of woe. The worst is yet to come.

But assuming everything is going to hell in a hand basket tends to produce group paralysis. Why bother tackling problems that are beyond help?

Action, not excuses, gets things done. That applies to our own lives as well as our mutual interests as a nation.

We can fret all day about our personal circumstances, or act to improve them. We can’t be cautiously optimistic that our fortunes will change if we don’t move heaven and Earth to make it so.

In the same vein, we can’t just hope our political leaders will act to serve the greater good. We, the people, have to make it so.

We have to become active participants in our collective destiny. We have to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and find our voice again.

We need to get back in the game to make our lives, homes, communities, state, and country better.

Those who ill-serve the public with regressive measures or bow to special interests at the public’s expense should know they’re being watched and will be held to account for their actions.

Effective public dissent is a good way to start. Politicians respond to unhappy constituents. That may be the only thing that grabs their attention faster than a big campaign check. Public pressure nudges them to act productively on social and economic priorities.

It reminds them that unresolved issues haven’t gone away. In Ohio, there is still no fair school funding formula, too much poverty, unaffordable health care, environmental risks, and too many people without a job or prospects of finding one.

Constituents can turn up the heat. A fed-up public that is mobilized to write, call, and protest legislative lunacy cannot be underestimated as a tool for progress.

Without certain citizen blowback, elected officials go astray. They sidestep the serious for the superfluous, such as passing legislation that allows guns in the Ohio Statehouse parking garage in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting.

Without certain public revolt beyond the Beltway, Washington politicians dicker mindlessly while the welfare of the nation waits. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and his Tea Party colleagues are prime examples of disconnected government leadership.

The speaker and his Republican majority are out of control. They court disaster with obduracy at every critical juncture of governance.

They display juvenile behavior at best and gross dereliction of duty at worst. They went home for the holidays while the financial security of millions of people hung in the balance of their carved-in-stone dogma.

Their childishness flourished at the height of the season when many voters were otherwise occupied. Maybe they thought that we wouldn’t notice.

But the day of reckoning is coming. The minefield House Republicans tiptoed around with lopsided revenue and spending cuts could blow up, exposing unequal sacrifice between haves and have-nots.

Shared burden is the only acceptable bargain to advance fiscal solvency. Yet those who are committed to carrying water for the super-wealthy will continue to obstruct plans that ask more of millionaires and billionaires unless concession-weary citizens seize a bullhorn with sound and fury.

From assemblies to organized advocacy, the silent majority must get loud. Our economic fate is at stake, as politicians dawdle on irrelevant sideshows like distracted children.

From the Statehouse to Capitol Hill, many politicians are unable or unwilling to do the right thing as public servants. State lawmakers across America have driven legislative trains off the track on GOP power trips.

Republican Party agendas on abortion, gay marriage, and labor unions have advanced in lieu of pressing dilemmas such as funding education or fixing rapidly deteriorating infrastructure.

Federal politicians have regressed to playground taunts in lieu of saving a country from an unsustainable future.

Cautious optimism won’t turn the ship of state around. It won’t compel leaders to lead, craft responsible fiscal policy, or finally end involvement in Afghanistan, the longest and least talked about war in U.S. history.

No, a call to action by optimists, who refuse to hedge their bets, will rescue the country from chaos.

We deserve better. It’s in our power to demand it.

Marilou Johanek is a columnist for The Blade. Contact her at: mjohanek@theblade.com



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