Post-Election: A Participatory Democracy

As the immediate excitement of Election Day begins to fade, we are left with new questions, among them: How is President-Elect Barack Obama going to move this country forward?

Despite what the press may say, he has already told us. The answer lies in what he’s been doing all along. Obama won because he and his staff built an incredible grassroots organization where everyone was encouraged to join in. From signing up to get an early text message as to his V.P. pick (and be part of the “inner circle”) to going online during idle moments to get lists of phone numbers to call on Obama’s behalf, the then-candidate opened his organization to anyone and everyone. As the president-elect said in his victory speech Tuesday night, the campaign was won by “us,” the millions of Americans who contributed time and money to bring about change.

“This is your victory,” Obama told the audience. He noted that this election proved that “government of the people, by the people, for the people has not perished from the earth.”

Not since women worked long and hard for the right to vote has there been so much organized, non-violent energy invested in our election process.

Referring to the world stage, President-Elect Obama noted at the end of his speech, “There is so much to do.”

Yes, there is. And we needn’t wait until January 20. Whether it’s ladling out soup at a homeless shelter, cleaning up a local park or working through government channels to address local, state, or national issues, we can all find a place to invest our energy.

The election on November 4 provides a “chance for change.” It’s up to us to help bring that change about. This is the very essence of a participatory democracy, and thus far, we can feel very proud.

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