If nothing else, the struggle over gas drilling has awakened and inspired local democracy like never before. And this is happening just as state and federal governments become more paralyzed. Votes really count in our towns and villages, in a way that they don't so much anymore in our broken electoral system. There, many politicians, caught in the wheels of a grotesque machine, are owned by corporations who pay for hugely expensive campaigns and, in return, get to write their own legislation.
Here at the local level, you can still see a hand-lettered sign with a red chicken painted on it, and elections can be won or lost because Sally didn't make it to the polls and Tom did. But while the potato salad at the potluck may be local, the issues being played out have broad national significance. For here is where people are making their stand against forces that threaten them/us on a very deep level. If we are going to feel safe and protected where we live, if we are going to rebalance the influence of capital against the needs and rights of ordinary folks, if we are going to protect the earth itself, it may need to start here, with the potato salad and the red chicken. So don't sit this one out.