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Fighting fire with fire

Definition of Politics From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia is the practice and theory of influencing other people on a civic or individual level.… It is thought of as the way we "choose government officials and make decisions about public policy".

In the next few days, we will know who is on the ballot for school board in Douglas County. Campaign season will be in full swing and we will be hearing a lot about how politics should stay out of school board races. There is and will be a ton of social media discussion about who is and who is not political.

The idea that local, nonpartisan races should be immune from politics is cringe worthy for those immersed in the political process. Traditionally, politics has been a form of public service. Running for office and representing the best interests of your constituents were considered high callings. Corruption and money have tainted politics and disenfranchised everyday citizens from the process but there is still much to be learned from politics that can help those who support public education win this election. It was the knowledge gained through years of partisan political campaigns that helped the Republican Party win the school board in 2009. They knew what messages resonated with their members and used voter targeting and direct mail to activate their base. Their success through political methods allowed them to implement their partisan agenda.

Today, the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is a perfect time to reflect on the “good” side of politics. Over the course of American history, political tactics have been used to bring about progressive change, from the first meeting of the Continental Congress through women's suffrage, voting rights and civil rights. These very political methods of organizing citizens, getting your message out and convincing lawmakers to listen to you are the means to positive ends. What frustrates Douglas County citizens are that these same tactics have been used to push an agenda that does not represent voters and is certainly not is the best interest of the county.

The candidates who oppose the Republican school board won’t be endorsed by political parties or have big moneyed interests funding their campaign but these candidates can use time tested political tactics to get their message out. The community organizing tactics used by President Obama in two campaigns, that of volunteers knocking on doors and making phone calls, worked and can work for Douglas County. True grassroots organizing is the only thing that can combat the influence of outside money. It is time to use the lessons of political campaigns to organize in Douglas to take back the School Board. It is time to fight fire with fire.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Douglas County schools has faced many controversies and challenges and there will be four candidates that need your time, conviction and energy to help them wrestle the school board away from partisan, corporate interests and give it back to the people. Are you in?

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