Thursday, June 09, 2005
Our nation is suffering from a crisis of democratic expression. Many Americans are in a state of deep political despair. The belief that the U.S. has abandoned principles of peace and tolerance has led to a burgeoning group of politically disaffected Americans. Some citizens have decided to leave the U.S. in response to the results of the 2004 presidential election. For instance, a recent newspaper article in a major newspaper reported that the number of U.S. citizens applying for immigration to Canada has increased by approximately threefold this year.
The disaffection many Americans feel towards our nation can be resolved if every citizen becomes fully engaged in the political and civic affairs of the nation.
I encourage you to use the following 10 Strategies in your community to reinvigorate the
democratic principles our nation was founded on.
#1 START SOMETHING
Joan Blades and Wes Boyd decided to let their voices be heard when they founded MoveOn.org. Both were Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and had no previous political experience in 1998 when they launched MoveOn.org. Blades and Boyd were deeply frustrated about the partisan warfare occurring as a result of the Clinton Impeachment process. So, they launched an online petition to censure President Clinton and Move On to pressing issues facing the nation. The petition mobilized hundreds of thousands of Americans and a movement was born. Today, MoveOn.org is an Internet based nationwide network of more than 2,000,000 online activists who mobilize to speak their opinion on issues ranging from campaign finance to the war in Iraq.
#2 IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM, JOIN 'EM
Mark Strama is a political activist turned elected official. Mr. Strama recently defeated a veteran politician in 2004 to become a State Representative in the Texas House of Representatives. Mr. Strama has been involved in public service for many years initially working on the Ann Richards' campaign for Governor. He also served as the Director of programs for MTV's Rock the Vote Project where he helped register more than a million new voters.
He has been a tireless advocate for empowering voters and for making government more responsive to the public. He founded a company which created technology that enabled over 700,000 Americans to complete voter registration forms online during the 2000 election cycle.
#3 BECOME THE CHANGE YOU SEEK
James Hodges began performing motivational speeches as George Washington in the community approximately eight years ago with the goal of imparting knowledge about their leadership principles to audiences. His goal is to inspire audiences to become the most effective leaders possible.
Mr. Hodges is a prime example of becoming the change you seek. He believed past American Presidents represented the epitome of leadership. He acted on this belief and models the success of these leaders as a way to inspire people to confront modern challenges and become leaders for the 21st Century.
#4 BE PROVOCATIVE
Michael Moore has made being provocative a job. Mr. Moore has been criticized by many for his confrontational style. However, he has been successful at speaking truth to power. Mr. Moore uses the power of the video-camera to chronicle the actions of leaders. He challenges the policies of multinational corporations as well as the policies of the United States government.
#5 SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT!
I believe that citizens must always use the power of their voice to challenge the status quo. I contend that voting is the most effective tool to speak up and speak out to those in power. I decided to turn my beliefs into action and became a Deputy Registrar for Travis County in Austin, Texas during the 2004 Presidential election. As a Deputy Registrar for Travis County, my primary duty was to register U.S. citizens to vote. I worked with local organizations and registered individuals at parks, dance clubs and community events. Our combined efforts resulted in approximately 10,000 new voters in the Central Texas Region.
We can ensure that our democracy remains vibrant and strong by encouraging all of our citizens to participate at all levels.
#6 VOTE OR DIE
The importance of voting was captured during the 2004 Presidential election by the slogan" Vote or Die". Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, businessman, entertainer and producer successfully used the slogan to emphasize the importance of voting to young Americans. Mr. Combs founded a national, non-partisan and non-profit organization called Citizen Change in 2004 in an effort to educate, motivate and empower young Americans. According to its founder, the mission of Citizen Change is: to make voting hot, sexy and relevant to a generation that hasn't reached full potential in the political progress. According to a recent story in Black Enterprise regarding the youth vote, approximately 21 million Americans under the age of 30 cast their votes in November 2004 which was an increase of approximately 4.6 million compared to the 2000 presidential election.
Hip-Hop activists were able to make voting seem cool to young people with the Vote Or Die campaign which resulted in a record turnout of young voters.
#7 THINK BIG
Tommy Tighe was 6 years old when he decided to campaign for world peace. He borrowed $454 dollars from a Children's Bank and created 1,000 bumper stickers with the following message: "Peace Please! Do It For Us Kids signed Tommy."
Tommy was passionate about his campaign for world peace. He received support from ordinary citizens and even President Ronald Reagan and President Mikhael Gorbachev bought his bumper stickers.
Tommy's campaign for world peace has been featured in newspapers and he has been a guest on the Joan Rivers Show. He has sold 10,000 bumper stickers for peace since starting his project. Tommy used his imagination to dream big and created a project which benefited the entire world.
#8 MAKE A WAY OUT OF NO WAY
Wangari Maathai is a prime example of someone who makes a way out no way. Ms. Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for her efforts as an environmentalist, tree planter and activist. She is the first African woman to receive this prestigious award.
Ms. Maathai is the founder of the Greenbelt Movement which was launched in the 1970's. The Greenbelt Movement is a grassroots environmental effort to improve
Kenya's environment. The governments of Kenya did not look kindly on the efforts of the Greenbelt Movement often threatening and jailing Ms. Maathai and her associates. However, Ms. Maathai continued her efforts and has managed to plant over 30 million trees in Kenya. Ms. Maathai has also been a strong proponent for women's rights. She has also been elected as a Member of Parliament in Kenya where she continues to lobby for environmental causes and the rights of women.
#9 JUST DO IT
Candy Lightner knows the importance of the phrase "Just Do It!" Ms. Lightner transformed a personal tragedy into a crusade against drunk driving in the United States. She founded MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) in 1980 in response to the death of her child by a drunk driver. MADD is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking.
Ms. Lightner continues her campaign to end drunk driving by giving lectures throughout the nation. Her selfless actions have been credited with preventing the deaths of many people.
#10 CREATE THE FUTURE
Julia "Butterfly" Hill decided to create the future by engaging in an act of civil disobedience. In 1997, Ms. Hill climbed into an enormous ancient redwood tree she nicknamed "Luna" in Humboldt County, California. She constructed a tiny platform near the top of the tree and resided on it for 738 days in order to prevent a lumber company from chopping it down. Her vigilance received national and international media coverage. Ms. Hill's actions resulted in the lumber company agreeing not to cut the ancient redwood tree she dubbed "Luna". In addition, the timber company created a small but permanent protective area around the ancient redwood and others trees like it nearby.
Ms. Hill continues to champion the environment as a public speaker. She is also the founder of Circle of Life a not for profit organization dedicated to environmental advocacy.
President Kennedy once said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." Our nation will remain strong and prosperous only if citizens participate in all functions of governance. I encourage you to emulate the actions of the aforementioned individuals in your community. As the Greek philosopher Plato one stated, “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.”
Richard McNairy is a motivational speaker specializing in youth empowerment. He is also the author of a political action guidebook entitled “30 Ways You Can Restore Democracy in 30 Days.”
He has served as a legislative aide for a member of the Texas House of Representatives and as a Budget Analyst for the City of San Antonio, Texas. He resides in Austin, Texas and can be reached by email at:email@example.com
Copyright 2005 Richard McNairy. All Rights Reserved.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
APRIL 28, 2005 RICHARD MCNAIRY
A New Project Encourages African-American Youth to Express Themselves through Writing
Austin, Texas- A new grassroots effort called the Say It Loud Project seeks the opinions of the next generation of African-American leaders. The Say It Loud Project is accepting essays from African-American youth between the ages of 17-25 years old that focus on their opinion about a political, social or economic issue confronting the African-American community.
According to Richard McNairy, creator of the Say It Loud Project," I decided to invite African American youth to write an essay expressing their opinion about an important political, social or economic issue in an effort to capture the diverse viewpoints within the African-American community. I believe it is very important for young African-Americans to express their opinions about important issues confronting our nation. I am very interested in the opinions of African American youth in regards to issues such as: the War in Iraq, Social Security, Higher Education, HIV/AIDS and any other issues a young person would like to write about. I think all too often mainstream media does not express the opinions of young people especially African American youth. I hope the Say It Loud Project will inspire African American youth to develop their writing skills and use them to influence public policy in our nation.”
The participation of young Americans in all aspects of the political, economic and civic affairs of our nation is vital. According to the recent report Vanishing Voter Election 2004 from Harvard University's School of Government, approximately 5 million more young people voted during the 2004 presidential election as compared to the 2000 election. The report proves that young Americans are active participants in the political and civic affairs of our nation.
The Say It Loud Project is committed to encouraging young African-Americans to remain involved in the political and civic life of our nation. African- Americans between the ages of 17-25 years old are encouraged to submit an essay which expresses their opinion about a significant and contemporary political, social or economic issue. Essayists are encouraged to submit writings that reflect their creativity and passion in regards to the topic. The essays may be submitted by email only to the following email address: http://us.f420.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?Tofirstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submitting all essays is November 30, 2005. The most compelling essays will be collected into a book to be published in mid 2006. Individuals seeking more information about this project may contact the Say It Loud Project creator by email at: http://us.f420.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?Toemail@example.com.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
I am launching a new project today which will focus on providing an outlet for the opinions of African-Americans between the ages of 17-25 years old.
My goal is to collect essays written by young African Americans which focus on their opinions about important political, social and economic issues confronting the African American community. I plan to publish the essays as a book in early 2006.
I know that young Americans are deeply committed to participating in the political and civic affairs of our nation. According to Harvard University School of Government's Vanishing Voter 2004 Election Report, approximately 5 million more young adults voted in 2004 than in 2000. I believe this is encouraging news for our nation.
I have launched this project as a means of rectifying this situation. I intend to contact HBCU's(Historically Black Colleges and Universities), African-American newspapers, Majority Populated Colleges and Universities and other organizations in an effort to spread the word about the project. The essays will be collated into a book which will be published in early 2006.
The project seeks essays from African Americans between the ages of 17-25 years old (and who are currently in high school or college).
The topic of the essay can fall in one of the following categories: Politics, Social Issue, Economic Issue. The essay can be in any length you desire but should express your opinion about a political, social or economic issue confronting the African American community.
All essays must be submitted to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org before November 30, 2005.
All essays become the property of Richard L. McNairy once they have been submitted. The published collection of essays will feature the biographies of the essayists.
The collection of essays will be published as a book in early 2006.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
I'm afraid the end is nigh. No, I don't mean the end is near. I mean the end is nigh as in the end is already here!!!!
According to various news reports, Howard Dean was elected to the position of Chairman of the Democratic National Committee! I know that Deaniacs all acros the country(and the world) are ecstatic. I am chagrined!
I received an email from Dr. Howard Dean early this morning. Really, I'm not joking!!! The email was a mass email sent to all of the DNC loyalists. The email stated that he is happy to be Chair and wants me to know that the new DNC will be all about inclusion and loyalty to the base. I rolled my eyes as I quickly hit the delete button. I think I was spammed by Dr. Howard Dean.
Anyway, I'm still leaving the Democratic Party. I have been wanting to leave the Dems for a while. I almost left the party during my college years but got distracted. Well, no more distractions!!! I'm leaving for real!!!
Ok, well, maybe I'll hang around for a little while longer (say through springtime) but after that I'm finished!!!!
Thursday, February 10, 2005
I attended an event last night hosted by the Future Forum which featured several young Members of the Texas House of Representatives. I am a member of the Future Forum which is an organization comprised of young people and others interested in increasing the civil participation of Americans. The Future Forum hosts a variety of events throughout the year which focus on educating the public about important public policy issues.
I enjoyed speaking with and listening to these legislators talk about issues ranging from school finance to healthcare. I also got a chance to learn firsthand what it takes to raise the money to become an elected official.
The Texas Legislature is currently in session and only meets every other year which I think is bizarre. However, Texans pride themselves on their form of small government. The problems is that this state has a population of 20 million people and is continuing to grow. I think that meeting every two years for approximately 6 months (or more if the governor calls a special session) is an antiquated way to handle the people's business of Texas. The citizens of Texas should demand that the legislature meet for a full year every other year in an effort to properly conduct state business.
Hey, it's just and idea!!!
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
I read that the last competitor to Dr. Howard Dean to become Chair of the Democratic National Committee has dropped out of the race. The reality is that Dr. Dean may be the only person interested in becoming Chair of the DNC. I only have one question-"Where is Bill Clinton?"
I thought the DNC was his party . Where is Senator Hillary Clinton? Is no one able to stand up to the power of Dr. Dean.
I promise you folks that I will leave the Democratic Party if Dr. Howard Dean becomes the next Chair of the DNC. I have been considering becoming an independent for some time now. Dr. Dean's ascendancy to the Chair of the DNC will confirm the rightness of my actions. The DNC can barely win local elections in 2005. I do not believe that Dr. Howard Dean has the experience to lead the party to victory in any given year. The fact that he was able to create an internet based network of voters is not enough evidence that he can influence independent voters nor the traditional base of the DNC to vote for democratic candidates.
What are the powers that be thinking ? I urge you to stay tuned. I will have a lot more to say about this issue in the days to come.