In Support of Effective Government

I am not protesting against the government. I am protesting in support of the government. I am in support of a government that works, one that does its job, one that takes care of the American people and demonstrates positive teamwork across the globe. I support President Obama, and I want to see this country’s administration doing its thing a little more. Let’s make change.

I support Occupy Wall Street because we are the 99 percent, and we want a better government.

In the fall of 2000, I was in 10th grade, and I learned that the government is not doing its job well, not supporting the American people in the ways in which they need support. I was a stellar student at a stellar suburban public school, told that if I worked hard I could achieve wonders. And I believed it, because I had the resources to help me and the people to encourage me. I read Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol to do a book report, and my world changed. I read about other public schools, underfunded public schools, with run-down buildings, overcrowded and violent hallways, and classrooms in which tired and scared teachers struggled to teach hungry and traumatized students.

I was sold. I can fix this problem, I said to myself. I have found what I will do with my life. I love schools, and I love teaching, and I can help make all American public schools as great as mine.

Well, Jonathan Kozol and countless others had already spent decades trying to do the same, and they had not yet succeeded. The more I researched the issue and taught and tutored in urban public schools, the more I discovered classism, racism, financial crisis, financial restructuring, and what I consider a totally irresponsible government.

How did our government get away with spending money on corporations and war-waging when our schools needed that money for repairs, resources, curriculum, and teacher training? When our students were hungry? When our families needed health care, jobs, housing?

As someone passionate about education, I have done a lot of work in non-profit organizations. And yes, many of them are working to address inequities in education, and in other areas. But what I truly believe is that this work of ensuring high-quality education and providing high-quality health care and jobs and housing and food is the primary responsibility of an effective democratic government.

I quickly learned that I would not fix the system alone. It is too broken, in too many parts, and in such complex ways.

So I support Occupy Wall Street. Because I support the government. I support a government that is working for the 99 percent. We can do this work. I want to see the government take on this challenge. I want to see President Obama make this happen. I want to help make this happen.

Published by Mimi Arbeit

applied developmental scientist, antifascist community organizer, sexuality educator

2 thoughts on “In Support of Effective Government”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for writing! I'd be interested to hear more about what it is about the Occupy Wall Street movement in particular that you support, as opposed to other ways of expressing effective government.

  2. Anonymous says:

    *expressing support for effective government, I should have said!

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