Get Organized

Posted by: eric on September 15, 2009 at 11:01 pm

A hundred and eighty years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville noted that the great strength of American democracy lay not in government institutions or even in the genius of our Constitution, but in the myriad of private organizations through which people expressed their opinions and shaped the world around them.

These organizations go to make up what scholars often call “civil society,” and their absence goes a long way toward explaining why otherwise great nations like Russia and China have been unable to make a transition to democracy, even after their old autocratic regimes have been found wanting. Civil society includes charitable organizations, foundations, religious groups, fraternal societies, service clubs, political groups, professional and business associations, and dozens of other kinds of organizations representing every conceivable socioeconomic grouping and point of view.

Millennials interested in promoting a change agenda need to create organizations of their own. There are plenty of powerful models to learn from. Look at how AARP has fought effectively for the economic and social rights of its 50-year-old-plus members; at how Jewish organizations have made certain the United States stands staunchly in support of Israel; at how the NRA has defended the prerogatives of gun owners; at how the teachers’ unions have battled on behalf of the professional privileges of their members. You probably agree with the positions of some of these organizations and disagree with others. So do I. But all illustrate the political clout that an organized group of people can wield.

I want to see the day when spokespeople for Generation We can visit representatives and senators on Capitol Hill and say, “We’re here to talk with you about our country’s most pressing issues—and we represent the perspective of a hundred million voters.” Don’t you think a statement like that will get a politician’s attention—fast?

The problems faced by America and the world are serious. But everyone has a solution—if we act together for the common good.

The time of Generation We is here. Let’s seize it—now.

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