Public Policy Matters

It has been pointed out that participating in the system as an elected official is flawed. However, we all live in flawed systems, and we can either try to remove ourselves from them or work inside them for change. Personally, I have seen great changes and learned lots by having a “seat at the table.”

I have held elected office for over sixteen years. Last year as the mayor of a small urban city I led the effort to institute the highest minimum wage in the country. That local law is not fundamentally challenging the profit motive or corporate greed; however, it is making thousands of people’s lives better. In this collapsing society, we can position ourselves to lessen the amount of hurt that has come and will continue to come at a faster pace.

I also served on a task force that developed my city’s first climate action plan and have seen the city’s carbon footprint lessen over the years. And as a transportation commissioner, I helped develop a regional plan for a successful sales tax ballot measure that de-emphasized cars and prioritized public transit, bicyclists, and pedestrians. In my area, transportation creates forty percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Now there will be more transit users and fewer car trips with drivers driving alone.

Before I became an elected official, I was an “issue-oriented” activist, pressuring from “outside” the system. That is a marginalized position structurally. However, it is a place from which many people can challenge their timidity patterns and learn how to organize. And the actions they take do influence policy makers. However, they do not set policy.

The kinds of solutions activists seek can be brought about by government. I encourage all RCers to become public policy makers at any level. Society needs our perspective as things become less and less workable.

Because disappointment often follows hope, we can also spend some energy during this campaign season to organize for the inevitable disappointment that will follow once whoever is elected is in office. We have tools to address disappointment.

“Rose Schneiderman”


Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of wide world change

(Present Time 184, July 2016)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00