This week I had the chance to go to a luncheon given by the UJA Federation of NY Young Real Estate Executives. My firm sponsored a table, the lunch was near my office (at the Waldorf) and the food was kosher. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon.
The keynote speaker at the lunch was Cory Booker, mayor of Newark. I have to say, I was very, very impressed. Mr. Booker spoke exceptionally well. His speech was interesting, but funny at the appropriate times, smartly addressed and tailored for his audience, and had a clear and applicable message. It was truly an execellent speech. I don’t know if video of it is available online, but if I find it, I would love to post it.
In the interim, take a few minutes and watch the video of this speech given by Booker at the graduation of the Fieldston School.
My favorite line: “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability; it must be carried in on the backs of people who are willing to stand up.”
Recently, with the upcoming presidential elections (and primary season) taking such a prominent position in the public consciousness, and especially with Barack Obama’s message of change, I got to thinking about what my feelings about “change” would be, specifically in a political context.
Part of my reading and looking led me to the website for the movement trying to urge Larry Lessig to run for Congress in California’s 12th District (ultimately, he decided against it). I made my way across Lessig’s own “campaign” page. At the bottom right of the page, there is a video of a lecture given by Lessig about the idea of copyright and creative commons, where, at the, he introduces and explains the idea of a new movement that has come to be called “Change Congress.” Watch it. It’s a very interesting lecture. Find an hour, and watch it. If you only have ten minutes, though, watch this now:
This is about finding, supporting and electing candidates who will not take money from special interest groups, who will not be beholden to that money and those groups and will govern in a way that is truly best for the country and their constituency. It is a group that is aimed at ending the traditional Washington “insider” control of our nation’s government. And it’s not necessarily about changing people, but changing the system; the influence that money has on the system. Truly an honorable goal. If you have a few minutes next Thursday, watch the webcast of the official launch of the Change Congress movement.
I used to deride Barack Obama as “unqualified.” That he made his name known for one speech given at the Democratic National Convention, got himself elected to the Senate and made himself nationally prominent, positioning himself for his current run for the White House. I wonder, though, if that’s precisely what makes him an attractive candidate? Aside from being an exceptionally charismatic speaker, his message resonates, clearly, with many people. And the idea that he’s not an old-time political insider has particular appeal to me. Look, I am not saying that I will certainly vote for him this coming November, but that given the opportunity, I would seriously consider it.
I am fully on board with the Change Congress movement. It will take some time, and it won’t be easy. But then again, nothing that’s worthwhile ever is.
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability; it must be carried in on the backs of people who are willing to stand up.
If we want to end the era of corruption, money and cronyism ruining our government, and instead usher in a time of real leadership and governance by ideas, then we must be willing to stand up for it.
Yes, I know, I can be a naive idealist sometimes. There are certainly tons of reasons why something like this could never work. But isn’t that the kind of thing people told Martin Luther King, Jr.? Isn’t that the kind of thing people have been saying to any innovator, to the small beginnings of any movement? Isn’t that what people said to the brave men and women who revolted against Britain and started this country?
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness….But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Recognize that? That’s the Declaration of Independence. Was that idea too idealistic and naive? Maybe. But the very idea that a few passionate and dedicated people can stand up and force real change is the very principle this country was founded on!