16 July 2009

The Triumph of the Proletariat

(or something)

Politics have endlessly fascinated me since the 1984 presidential elections, when I was <> 10.

My mother was a freelance reporter for our little tiny town weekly, and as part of that, she covered the local government councils, a village and a township. I went, whenever I could talk her into it, and had lots of questions on the way home. Even at 10-11-12, I thought that the township trustees were petty, back-biting, bickering brats, and the village council members were hoity-toity.

But the political process has continued to fascinate me, and the fact that we as citizens can contribute to that process with not just our money and our votes, but with our voices....well, at 34, I still think it is pretty freaking amazing.

A few weeks ago, I posted about Ohio's budget crisis, and the plan that our Democratic Governor, Ted Strickland, proposed to lawmakers, which would result in our state-run libraries operating next fiscal year with 50% of the budget of the previous fiscal year. I urged one and all to visit SaveOhioLibraries.com, where further information is available about how you can tell your Ohio elected official just what you thought of the plan to cut the libraries to such a devastating low.

I am proud, and humbled, by the number of people from Ohio (and beyond, too, impressively) who wrote to their local state reps, and to Gov Strickland, telling them was an abysmal idea the funding cuts were. Strickland spoke out vehemently against this public outcry, claiming he wasn't going to budge an inch on his proposed budget.

The folks elected to the Ohio State House and Ohio State Senate, however, recognized political suicide when they saw it.

In the end, the state cut 84 million dollars from the budget of Ohio's 251 library systems; painful, yes, but not as devastating as Strickland's proposed 227 million dollars. The state-wide protests, held in front of libraries and in Columbus on the steps of the capital, not only made noise, they got attention. National news coverage. I heard, although I have no source for this, that the telephone systems at the state house were so overwhelmed with the number of citizens calling to protest that they crashed a few times during this period.

So yea, I'm feeling pretty damn triumphant, and proud. A little of my faith in our system of government has been restored; they listened. It worked just like it ought to. Our elected officials work for us after all!

Power to the people, y'all!

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