Thursday, January 25, 2007

New York Times' Bob Herbert: Everyone should be a part-time politician

In his New York Times column this morning (also available here if you lack a NY Times subscription), Bob Herbert says that it looks like we can hope for little action at the top. Everyone is just playing it safe. Our only hope, he says, is the citizens taking action. We’ve done it before: the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and on and on. We can change things.

He calls for us to turn off our TVs and protest, attend meetings, circulate petitions. Run for office!

He’s talking about practicing democracy, of course. But he’s also talking about building community. At its heart, democracy is community, because it’s people coming together for the common good.

And it’s so much more exciting and fulfilling than TV or shopping! Every time you stop to talk to someone, you’re not only building community, you’re practicing democracy, for John Dewey said, “Democracy is born in conversation.”

What was so inspiring about the column was his final quote from Eisenhower, who said in 1954: “Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.”

This is why those of us in the Take Back Your Time movement feel so strongly that we must work for shorter work time policies to do something to counteract our sickness of overwork and time poverty. Democracy takes time!

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