“Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” – James Bovard.

Citizens are putting democracy to the test in a small town in southern Georgia. Having realized that their City Council has completely run amok, some people began to plan their response. For those of you who may be in a similar state of frustration and concern regarding your own local government, here’s the recipe:

First call together a group of like-minded individuals who have all expressed intense frustration with the present administration. Then assemble a vast amount of research and documentation to support your position. Next, request a hearing with the Grand Jury, release the news to the media, gather signatures for the petition and brace yourselves against the onslaught of umbrage and angst from City Hall. Await the Grand Jury date. (In this case, Oct. 20th)

Actions such as these should never be taken lightly: either by those who seek justice or those who seek to avoid it. The citizens of this town have suffered through a Council that was voted in through the plurality system (and thus does not represent the majority).

That would have been tolerable had the Council not then sought to give away a community asset (our airport), raised water rates by 35%, purchased a $1.3 million piece of property for no apparent reason, engaged in constant closed-door meetings, treated the people with utter disdain, dismissed all concerns with an eye-roll and an airy wave of the hand and alienated the majority of the populace with draconian rules during public meetings (plastic handcuffs in the foyer anyone?). It is the sheer arrogance of these people that so rankles the populace: the stunning hubris of those who are charged with the task of acting “for the people” and yet ignore their voices at every turn.

It is estimated that the group will have in excess of 1,000 signatures to present to the Grand Jury along with a barrage of damning information and documents.

There appear to be two extremes at work in this country: those who passively shrug, don’t bother voting and are disinterested in “politics” and, at the other end of the spectrum, those who shriek and rail while chanting about “taking the country back.” (All too often this amounts to a case of “Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”)

But there can be a middle ground: a more reasoned and effective approach to protecting and promoting democratic ideals. When citizens come together out of a sense of mutual concern, speak with respect to one another and their “opponents”, calmly prepare and lay out their case and have the fortitude to seek the assistance of the proper authorities, much can be done.

Who knows what the outcome of this group’s efforts will be? Perhaps what is most important is the knowledge that when the “sheep” tire of the “wolves” dictating their fate they can, and will, take action. Five wolves versus 1,000 infuriated sheep – my bet’s on the sheep.

http://jacksonville.com/news/georgia/2010-09-30/story/st-marys-residents-want-grand-jury-investigate-city-council

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Alex Kearns

Alex Kearns

Alex writes for a variety of national and international publications. A relative newcomer to the United States, she co-founded her town's first environmental organization (The St. Marys EarthKeepers, Inc.). In turns bemused, confused, entranced, frustrated and delighted, she enjoys unravelling the eternal enigma that is the Deep South.