Friday, March 18, 2011

On Being Powerless: Guest Post from @jillsmo

WI Workers protesting union-stripping and billionaire welfare

Welcome, my fellow Politicos! Later this weekend I will be posting - this whole Japan thing is insane, and Wisconsin is going strong and the GOP is giving Dems an amazing gift throughout the north and Midwest...can't wait to get at it!

But today, enjoy a guest post from my blogsistah and fellow tweeter @jillsmo. Jill has been a savvy and smart commenter on Momma Politico for quite some time. She has one of the most hilarious blogs I've read in ages, and I offered her the MP soapbox if she ever wanted to get political, so please make her feel welcome here and comment profusely!

On Being Powerless
by jillsmo, Guest Blogger

There's a reason why I never talk about politics on my blog. And I'll tell you! I used to be the most politically active person ever. I organized, I ran groups, I did voter registration (that's how I met my husband), I was on fire! Then Gore vs. Bush happened and I was profoundly struck at exactly how powerless I really am. All of that work I'd been doing was pointless. My vote, my voice, my actions: useless. I'm just one person, there's nothing I can do about any of it, so why bother? Why bother even knowing what's happening in the world? I just feel angry and frustrated that these events unfold before my eyes and there's not a goddamn thing I can do about any of it.

Nowadays I try hard to stay away from the news, because things have only gotten worse in the last 10 years. Our country has become a plutarchy, with politicians who care only about getting power and money for themselves and not about the people they supposedly represent. Our national discourse is controlled by a bunch of ego-maniacal talking heads who say things like the earthquake in Japan is a message from God. Corporations have been given the same rights as fucking people, except when it comes to being punished for breaking the law. We've got power hungry Governors deciding for themselves that they have the right to strip the people of all their power, and now teachers are the bad guys? Teachers, police officers, firemen.... they're the enemy now?? Are you fucking kidding me???? Occasionally I (accidentally) happen upon some of it and I get so angry. I'm getting angry right now just thinking about all of it; but why? Why get angry? My anger is meaningless. I'm not a billionaire, nobody cares what I think. It's better for my mental well being to just not know what's happening; it makes me a happier person.

It's a horrible feeling, to be powerless like that. To have a very strong opinion about something that matters to you a great deal and know that it doesn't matter in the slightest what you think about it. I imagine that's how kids feel a good deal of the time, especially kids that are non-verbal or who have trouble expressing themselves.

I am, however, still one of those people who has trouble not saying something when I witness what I consider to be an injustice. I try to focus my attention on things that happen locally; at least there's a smaller audience if I stay in Berkeley. As a result I have had some "tussles" with our school district in the past. (Nothing about either of my kids, it's been entirely political). What I took away from my experiences, though, was that the district and the administration don't care what I think. They're going to pretend to be listening to me when I'm in their face talking about stuff, but once I leave the room they're going to do whatever they wanted in the first place. I'm just a parent. I'm not a major donor, I'm not a sponsor, I'm not an elected official: they don't care what I think. There's that powerless feeling again. Fuck, that sucks.

Recently I had an experience with the principal at our school which originally involved just a few other parents, the principal and myself. Then the principal did this seriously fucked up thing that had implications for parents of kids with special needs district-wide. I was pissed. I mean... so pissed my hands were shaking. So pissed that I had to physically restrain myself from marching into her office and telling her to go fuck herself.

I'm not going to go into detail, but I will tell you that I may be "just a parent," completely powerless on my own, but as part of a group of parents it turns out that I actually do have some power. A bunch of us special needs parents rallied, together, and we got that shit fixed. As a result I was able to send a VERY satisfying email to our principal which essentially said "HA HA I WIN YOU LOSE." Holy fuck was that nice.

(Editorial comment: not all principals are like the one above. Some of us actually do fight for the interests of our kids, and love doing it!)

My point? Not entirely sure, to be honest, except that I really wanted to say "holy fuck was that nice." Maybe I think our country is due for a revolution; we may be powerless as individuals but what kind of change can we do as a group? I would get behind an uprising; I might even start watching the news again if it would help. But things in this country need to change, and soon. It's time to find out exactly how much power we actually have.

Fucking bring it on.

jillsmo blogs at where she usually talks about things that are funny, i.e. her kids. Follow her on twitter: @jillsmo