I was hoping to announce that I got engaged over the weekend here today. But with the current goings on in the world it feels like such a small an inconsequential thing to talk about.
Once again, the appalling way people of color are all too often treated in this country has erupted onto the public scene. Police brutality isn’t new. Racism isn’t new. There’s a long sordid history of both in the US, often with the blessing of the government at all levels, and neither issue seems to get appreciably better. I suspect too many people feel that both problems are problems ELSEWHERE. “I’m not racist,” they say. “My town isn’t racist. My sheriff is a good person, I voted for them. It’s those other cops that are violent thugs. Those other cities, those other people that are racists.” Too many think this way without ever really taking the time to look closer to home for the budding source of these problems. But I’m a white guy. I can’t really talk to you about racism with any kind of authority, nor should you be turning to me about such a subject, but I can talk to you about police brutality and government overreach.
The police continue to prove that too many of them care more about being obeyed than serving or protecting. Clearly demonstrating through countless needless escalations that their objective is less about keeping order and more about exerting control. When the people object to the way they are treated, Mayors of all parties call out the national guard. The President encourages this. Has now authorized active duty military to back up the national guard and the standing army that is many cities’ police departments. And it’s not an isolated or unprecedented use of force against the American people. H.W. Bush deployed the military at the LA mayor’s request back in ’92 to help quell the Rodney King Riots. The National Guard shot students at Kent State. The FBI and ATF debacle at Waco. The Ferguson Police. The NYPD on any given Tuesday. Across the country, across the decades, government agents at every level have demonstrated a propensity to use excessive force and repeatedly face little if any consequence for their actions.
If my feeds are anything to believed, people are growing more and more convinced that the government is declaring war on their fellow Americans and there is nothing to be done. But that is untrue. There is much that can be done before we resort to open war with our government.
If anything has been made clear to me in the last handful of months of quarantine, it’s the importance of local and state governments. We put a lot of emphasis on who is President and what they’re doing but, even with the ever-expanding power of executive orders and privilege, the bulk of government power lies outside of the Oval Office. It is the State governors who have largely laid down the law with the Covid Pandemic, and it is the Mayors and the Police Chiefs they appoint who have taken point responding to the Floyd Protests.
Even with the separation and grossly unfair protections police enjoy, the departments are still beholden to the government. Mayors can dictate who runs their police department and what policies they should pursue. Local and state governments set police department budgets and authorize purchase of equipment (using taxpayer funds) and those local and state politicians are, allegedly, beholden to us voters. Local governments are the front line policy makers and they are the ones most easily held accountable.
There are policies that can improve the lives of the people, let us live free and safe and without fear, and we can make those policies happen if we focus our attention where it needs to be. While the goings on in DC are important, being involved in local politics is even more so. Your mayor, your governor, your representatives at the local and state level can all be reached via telephone and email and it is in their direct interest to listen to you, lest they be replaced at the next election. Contact them directly. Give them a piece of your mind. Vote. Be involved. A people should not be ruled by their government. The government is supposed to be by, of, and for a people.
A people most surely should not fear their government.
But yeah, I got engaged this weekend. Long time readers of mine will be pleased to know that it’s Karen (yes, from Comedity) that I’m now engaged to. It’s really nice. I’m looking forward to more nice moments like that somewhere in the future.