By Alec Pruchnicki
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
“Excuse me, but are you a registered Democrat living in this neighborhood? Please sign this petition to help politician X get on the ballot for the next election.”
“How annoying”, I used to think. “I’m busy and someone is asking me to take my precious time to sign a meaningless petition for some person I may or may not have heard of.” That’s what I used to think before I became one of those annoying petitioners.
Then, I actually got involved in Democratic party work (or “ bourgeois politics “ as we used to refer to it in the 60s) and realized how things function. I even learned how these annoying petitions worked. People running for office in New York State, even if they are incumbents, must get a certain number of signatures on petitions, the number depending on the office being contested. And, they usually keep track of the number of signatures from each political club or neighborhood, along with voter turnout on Election Day.
In other words, politicians know which groups, clubs or neighborhoods are politically active and feel strongly about electoral politics and issues, and which are apathetic and don’t show up when it counts. They can also figure which issues are worth fighting for, since there is public support, and which issues elicit little public outcry.
Starting to get involved in politics by spending a few seconds to sign a petition seems pretty boring and trivial compared to rallies and demonstrations of angry masses of protestors we have seen recently. But, at some point those protests have to be turned into votes so that the legislators who actually make laws, policies, and budgets will reflect the will of the people.
This could be a very important year for the future of the country. Besides the scandals and investigations that occur every day, there will also be an off year election in November. The entire House of Representatives and one third of the Senate will be up for election, along with numerous local and state positions. If you think the country is doing just fine and no public issues need to be addressed then sit back and relax.
But, if you think that this is the time for good people to act, to prevent evil people from succeeding, then there are many actions you can take besides signing a petition when you are approached. These actions will be explained in future articles. Most importantly, don’t just sit there, do something.