Some time ago I did some transcription work for one of Amnesty International's local chapters, when I made a record of what some of their members had to say about their meeting with Liu Xiaobo. Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize while imprisoned in China for his pursuit of improved human rights in China.
He had spent most of his life trying to encourage China to modernize and been imprisoned on four occasions over many years. When asked if he thought things in China were getting response was that things were actually getting better. Even twenty years earlier, chances are pretty good he might have faced execution.
However, this was not so much because the government changed. It's because the generation after Tienamen square had changed. They had become a little less trusting of government, and more prepared to complain and force the government to change, a little bit every year.
I think that we need to recognize this. Ultimately, our elected leaders need money to run for office, and that means that they will always be under the influence of large banks, corporations and Wall Street, because they have the most money. But the amount of influence that those organizations have is only constrained because people are watching. Once the public stops watching, money rules.
Hurricane Sandy is possibly the most damaging storm we've had yet, but I think it's only a sign of things to come. As things stand now we can have a whole battery of debates and not mention the climate once; then a monster storm like this hits, and the press will choose not to bring up climate change. I heard Cuomo mention it on his own, but the press never dared bring it up.
That is not acceptable, because when nobody talks about climate change the public loses interest. We have to force this issue now, and in the years preceding the next election. We must force this matter to be an issue, because we cannot afford to let it slide from sight. If we do, we won't really work to solve the problem until it's already too late.