According to the famous story, “when the legendary labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph met with FDR before World War II to get the president to take action against discrimination, the president boomed back: ‘I agree with you, now go out and make me do it.’”
This story really resonates with me because it underlines the important role played by protests and social movements in making societal change. While voting is important, most important changes have not originated in our legislatures, but rather arise from the people — the people in action.
Even groundbreaking Court cases are often responses to changes in the larger society. For example, the Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges could not have happened without years and years of hard organizing work by the LGBTQ community. Same with Roe v. Wade.
The Left is on the march — Occupy, Fight for 15, Black Lives Matter, climate change activists, Bernie Sanders for President — and think about how much our public discourse has been affected by these movements. Indeed, we wouldn’t have the discourse of the 1% without Occupy.
We elect people to office to do our will. We need to do more than just nicely ask them to do the right thing. We need to make them do it!