The Power of Grassroots Politics

The new battle in politics isn't so much Republicans versus Democrats, it's grassroots versus establishment. Will moneyed interests win out, or will the voice of the people be heard?

Those of us who have taken history classes probably remember reading about the old political bosses. In New York City, one could hardly even think about obtaining power without going through Boss Tweed; likewise, Richard J. Daley exerted similar power over the politics of 1950s Chicago. Although the old-school bosses are no longer around and the tactics have changed somewhat, the concept of the establishment trying to exert power over political outcomes is still alive and well. And in many cases, the establishment wings of both parties can be virtually indistinguishable from each other.

There is one tool, however, that we have in the modern age to combat the often self-interested establishment. Because of the ease of communication and the rise of the Internet, grassroots politics have become a force to be reckoned with.

We have seen grassroots movements grow rapidly over the last few years. Two of the most notable are the Tea Party Movement and the Liberty Movement. No matter what affiliation one may have with a particular movement, there is a clear divide between candidates who engage with their constituents and are interested in reform, and status quo politicians who are supported by moneyed interests. It is a battle that often is not partisan, but occurs within parties to determine whether they will be accountable to the people or to special interests. On one side is a vast network of political alliances and favors, of cronyism and nepotism; on the other, an army of committed activists, with new tools such as Facebook making organization infinitely more efficient.

In Massachusetts, the 2010 elections brought a wave of new representatives to the State Legislature, a group that included such grassroots candidates as Jim Lyons and Ryan Fattman, among others. Many of these lawmakers split from the establishment on important issues; one example was the vote on health care price controls, where 7 members of the House stood their ground in opposition. They showed that their allegiance was to principle instead of politics, representing their constituents instead of maintaining the status quo.

There is a trend both in Massachusetts and across the country towards a more grassroots brand of politics. It will face persistent opposition, but in the end it is votes that win elections, not dollars. A more in-touch, engaged government can only be a good thing for the citizens of this state.

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Heather McNeil November 27, 2012 at 02:11 AM
And one way to participate in this process is by getting involved on the local level. Educate yourself about issues and candidates and get out and vote during local elections and show up and vote and town meeting! The more you learn how our community is affected by state and federal decisions and decision-makers, the more you realize how important it is for us all to take part in this process.
Cool Fusion November 27, 2012 at 02:20 AM
America is at that awkward stage with a bad case of the vapors. It's too late to work within the system, but too soon to errect the Guillotines. This momentous situation in our history is exactly what we've bargained for with our pornographic politics of lying, grifting, swindling, and racketeering. However, even in the complete absence of real and ethical media, the seeds of revival are in progress as the prudent Libertarian message increasingly resonates with thoughtful citizens through out the land. Great article.
Mark Mezzina November 27, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Absolutely. It can be tempting to get caught up in top-of-the-ticket races, but it's local politics where you have the biggest voice.
Cool Fusion November 28, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Pinata Economics.. smash and grab. One green parachute left and it's allocated to our very own Kim Jong at the state house. Just pretend that your in North Korea.


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