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There is only one sure way to make something happen in public policy and in politics, and that is to organize. Sometimes external events-the Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam, Watergate, September 11th, Enron, and MCI WorldCom-will make things happen of their own accord. But we can't wait for events to create opportunity, and many such stimuli are in fact things we don't want to happen. So it is up to us. And the time for organizing is not just when an issue is at the forefront. Organizing is needed to build interest and support on issues over a longer period of time. Citizens need a reason to participate in the political process, a reason to register to vote, and a reason to participate in electing better candidates to office. The challenge not only includes getting better people to run, but also getting those already in office to behave better (even if they are not better people). Thus an issue like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) reauthorization is one part of a larger strategic agenda. We can not just show up on the day Congress is going to vote and expect that the response we want will magically occur.

Publication Citation

1 Seattle J. Soc. Just. 403-418 (2002)