I was almost proud of our Congress over the last week. They were told they had an emergency and given a crappy bill, and for once they did their job, going to work turning it into a better bill as fast as possible. They worked together like serious grownups—well, then they didn't, but I think that was just a lame cover-up. (Hey, I did say almost proud.)
The more important lesson is that making our wishes known makes a difference. Citizens went ballistic over the original bailout bill, thinking it was rewarding the crooks, and the House killed it. Citizens went nuts again this week after the market tanked, saying they need to do something, and they are getting it done.
Shaping our democracy is about so much more than November of every four years. Call your representatives, write letters, tell them why something is important to you, and they are likely to listen, especially if enough people do it. Whether it's because you convince them on the merits or they just want to do what their constituents want almost doesn't matter. Just make them get it done. Give them the political will by proving that it's our will.
We didn't get a question about global poverty, hunger, genocide in Darfur, human rights and/or religious persecution, or the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the first debate. I understand that because the format did not allow for many questions (only 8) and some of them were diverted to the economy. But the next debate is a town hall format with questions from the audience and submitted over the Internet. If enough people demand that these questions are asked, they will be. Later we must demand that the answers are followed through on.