We are the Somebodies that Need to do Something

By L. Clark Williams

From time to time, when societal problems seem too big for us, many are quick to say, without pause or hesitation, that “somebody needs to do something.”  The appeal of this all too familiar refrain is the premise that we, the people, can recruit, select or elect somebody that can swoop into the picture, grab the bull by the horns, and make challenging situations either disappear or transform into something better, preferably with minimal, or no, help from us.

This is part of the appeal of the controversial and unorthodox presidential candidacy of Donald Trump.  Based upon his campaign successes, it is apparent that many are enamored with the notion that a man can come along with a very simplistic message, containing limited substance, and simply “make America great again.” It seems that many working class and financially strapped whites, in particular, want so desperately to believe that Trump can singlehandedly make good on this promise that they do not even appear to mind the hate-filled spirit that saturates so much of what Donald Trump does.  Meanwhile, many blacks are thoroughly disappointed that their 2016 realities fall so far short of the promise contained in President Barak Obama’s lofty 2008 message of hope.  And all the while, neither group stops to recognize that we essentially have the same problems and, therefore, should be seeking the same kinds of solutions, together.

Still, with all that we are grappling with in Kentucky and America today, it is no wonder that we are drawn by the magnetism of the prospect that a dynamic political champion could make all of our societal problems briskly go away.  But in reality, we face many major challenges that no one man or woman, or small group of people, will ever be able fix.

Based upon the status of Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination, we apparently have a United States Senate, led by Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, that refuses to recognize that America still has a sitting president.

The ever rising cost of public higher education, due largely to cuts in government funding, is requiring promising young people to mortgage away their futures for which they are working so diligently to prepare.

Thanks to the results of the November gubernatorial election, a dark cloud of uncertainty hovers over the healthcare of 400,000 Kentuckians who finally gained coverage via the expanded Medicaid provision of Obamacare.

Drinking water is one of the most fundamental needs of life.  Yet, both Congress and Michigan politicians have failed to demonstrate any sense of urgency regarding funding and rebuilding the lifeline that is Flint’s water infrastructure.

Black people all over the country live with the cold and brutal reality that police are far more likely to use unnecessary force upon us than on others, as some of our fellow citizens keep searching for ways to justify this unjustifiable calamity.

And all over the nation, there is no denying that there is a restlessness in the air that can either explode into deep dark destruction or blossom into a better and brighter tomorrow.

Yet, as we continue looking for somebody to do something to fix our problems, perhaps the greatest challenge of all is collectively coming to the realization that we are the somebodies that need to do something. Several months ago, national media pointed to Kentucky as the prime example of an electorate that does not vote in its own best interest. To the extent that this is true, it cannot continue.

We, the people, have been lulled and pacified into believing that politics and government belong to big business and career politicians. But politics pervades every societal issue that we face.  So, the interests of the people must pervade every aspect of politics and government.  In other words, our elected officials cannot continue to ignore the needs of the people they were elected to represent.

Sometimes protests are even necessary, but as former State Representative Jesse Crenshaw has said on numerous occasions, the best way to bring about change that positively impacts people, “is to elect candidates who already agree with the changes that (we) want to make.”

So, ours is a task that begins well before Election Day, and it requires a massive amount of people power.  But there is no way around it, as we face major systematic problems that are capable of undoing both the Commonwealth and the Republic.  As Lincoln said at Gettysburg, “a government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the Earth.” And since we do not wish to perish, that is the kind of government that we all should be campaigning for.

And that is why you should join The People’s Campaign at www.campaignforpeople.com.

Rev. L. Clark Williams is president and chairman of The People’s Campaign and director of ministry at Shiloh Baptist Church in Lexington. Reach him at www.campaignforpeople.com/contact.

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