Thursday, November 15, 2012

"I am your neighbor." Citizen's United for a real United Citizenry

The state of Minnesota just defeated an anti-gay marriage amendment through having a lot of conversations. Yup, people just talking to people, heart to heart, difficult talks, along with a famous basketball player's comments and a fabulous ad by a decorated war vet about his gay comrade who died fighting for his country. People making tough phone calls, people having awkward dinner conversation, people talking to people about issues close to their hearts, and listening to the uncomfortable in response.

This campaign has inspired me. I have been watching through the national and state elections as we as a country have demonized two sets of folks: the poor, and immigrants. I have been thinking that one way to further the conversation about these people would be a series of television ads.

One set of ads would take respected members of our local, state and national community, research their ancestral histories--when people came here, how their ethnic group was treated at the time, and how they coped. Narrated by these respected community members, the ad would illustrate their stories of, say, fleeing a war, or famine or financial hardship, of, "Irish and dogs need not apply," or "my parents never really got comfortable in English, so I was their translator," or "we lived in a community of other Italians." Still narrated by the respected community member, the ad would then bleed into images of someone who has recently immigrated. "My abuela doesn't speak English, so I translate for her," "We fled the war in Somalia." etc.

We wouldn't ever have to say that We are them. We could just show it.

The second set of television ads is a lot simpler. I propose that we find people of all colors, sizes and shapes, who are now or have ever received "Welfare." We show them all--folks from the country, inner city people, people who got sick and lost their jobs and homes, people raising bright-faced children, people struggling to stay above water. People who used their time on welfare to get back on their feet, to go to school. People talking about how hard it is to apply, and how helpful it has been or is now in their lives.

And at the end, we have each one say, "I'm your neighbor. And I am the face of welfare."

Now, I'm sure that these ad campaign would cost a bundle. But. . .we have two years before the next congressional elections. Want to change the tone of elections in Arizona and Georgia? Run these ads. Let people see who they have chosen to demonize. Let's use the Citizen's United decision to work for a real United Citizenry. 
Share this post via:

No comments:

Post a Comment