Post by: Ben Trolio
The morning had started off wonderfully with cool air and downhills all the way into Hanover. We were even greeted by Cathy Corkery and a bag full of muffins when we met her in the downtown area in front of Talbots. This great start to the day would certainly go south when the afternoon came with sweltering heat. The bitter taste of disappointment, lingered within the shady confines of our green tent at Hanover Streetfest the entire afternoon. This terrible feeling was not there because yet another middle aged man wearing a blue Boston Red Sox hat had avoided our table like the plague when we asked him to sign a petition in defense mercury regulations. I felt this way because of my realization that the federal government of the United States of America was no longer responsible to its people. If the government had been responsible to the thousands of people attending the Hanover Streetfest, these citizens would no longer have to worry about the health of the fish they eat or the accumulation of a sinister substance in their body. Our government has become accountable to the rich and oversized corporations who were able to finance the careers of politicians that currently create the rules of our society.
We had already spent five hours filling six sheets front and back with signatures in defense of the Clean Air Act but I for one did not feel as nearly proud of my accomplishment as I should have. Were these hundreds of signatures really going to matter to politicians who depend more on fundraising millions of dollars than on winning the hearts and minds of the American people? The simple, cruel answer was no, it did not matter. I felt disempowered by how reliant our movement was on winning over politicians to create the change we wanted to see in the world. Fifty years ago, a Republican president by the name of Richard Nixon passed the most significant legislation protecting our air, water and other resources that had ever been seen. He was far from being an environmentalist and was pushed to approve legislation by the single unified, loud voice of the American people. Many people in our movement have yet to realize that our world is ruled by corporations and we need to use the rules of their game to our advantage. If we are ever going to make any progress in creating change at the level seen in the Nixon era, we need to start beating the powerful corporation at their own game. I hope that the many amazing people that we encounter this summer start to realize that we can use money to our advantage. In fact, we already are. By biking hundreds of miles this summer we are effectively boycotting gas companies and hurting their profits.
Walking down the hard pavement roads of Hanover with the rest of the gang, I thought about the fact that maybe we don’t need the support representatives and corrupt politicians to make the changes that we want to see. If there are 31 of us that can spend an entire summer without using a car, why can’t others simply choose not to buy or invest in the worst polluters out there such as PSNH or Exxon Mobil? By taking this first step and diverting our funds away from these companies we can start to put pressure on corporations to clean up or face the consequences. In the process we will also realize our power as people in making positive change in the world.