Best of the Best (Quotes) From 2011

In the spirit of providing a year-end review, I offer the following from 2011.  When we began our web site, the hope was to showcase the “wisdom voices” of today and to remember those whose wisdom has guided us throughout the years.  It has been our pleasure to talk to a diverse group of people in 2011 who continue to fight for the “common good” and for “We the People.”

The voice of "We the People" got much stronger in 2011

There were consistent messages that emerged from those we interviewed from coast-to-coast:

  • The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling is the single largest threat to our democracy today and it must be overturned
  • Hope remains present no matter what the conditions are
  • We the People – it is up to each of us to be the change we hope to see

In a year dominated by protests, recalls and an awakening of sorts for working class people, it was difficult to pick one person or one quote that stood above the many we presented through our interviews.

Stewart Acuff, UWUA: Best quote of 2011

One, though, remained etched in my mind from the minute I replayed it off the taped interview from last August.  It came through the vibrant voice of Stewart Acuff, Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President of the Utility Workers Union of America (AFL-CIO).  His passion for working people and organized labor rang through loud and clear in the entire interview, which was capped with the following:

“Ultimately, we have a responsibility to stand up for human values and justice in every part of our lives

We offer you a sampling of the great quotes we were privileged to garner this year, and we invite you to check out the full features on those listed below at The Progressive Profile.  And we look forward to the great words and insights from those we will feature in 2012.  It will be an unpredictable and memorable year.


“A lot of people feel compelled to stand up because of what happened with the Citizens United ruling and how there is a huge shadow of corporate influence on our government.  There’s a feeling among my generation that the only way to change that is by getting in and fighting and it’s important to have the grass roots tools in order to fight back. Quite simply, Citizens United is going to be the fight of my generation…to make sure that there is an even playing field for democracy to play out as opposed to this corporate boss system where only a handful of people who have the money stay involved.”

Chris Larson, Wisconsin State Senator

“Let’s not forget that American democracy started with ‘We the People’ agreeing to work hard to create ‘a more perfect union.’ We’ve lost the idea that politics begins at home with what happens in families, in neighborhoods, in classrooms, in congregations. We called this democracy into being – and if we want to call this democracy back to its highest values, it’s got to be the us doing that calling. That’s not going to happen if ‘We the People’ don’t know how to talk to one another with civility and hold our differences in a creative, life-giving way.”

–Parker J. Palmer, Author and Lecturer

“It really is the grass roots groups who are doing the effective and creative work to move us into a different future.  That’s where hope really lies.  Hope isn’t rooted in the notion that we’ll elect a politician who will bring about the solution. What we need to do is activate our own potential and stop being the consumers of politics and be more the protagonists for change in what has become a really ugly system.”

–Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, Professor and Author

“The struggle right now is to save our democracy from this monumental transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class so that now the one percent of the financial elite at the top of our society has more money than they ever had. It’s gone from a crisis of the working class to a crisis of the middle class to a crisis for our democracy.”

–Stewart Acuff, Chief of Staff Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO

“Problems come and go, and issues appear to morph over time. But they don’t really change very much at all. At the root of them all are the same human failings. Selfishness. Greed. Fear. Hatred. These need to be replaced by a sense of common good and shared purpose. And an enlightened understanding of self interest that leads us to see that we are all in this together and inspires us to think we first instead of me first.”

–Mike McCabe, Executive Director The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

“For the first 200 years of our nation’s history, corporations were never defined by the courts as persons with free speech rights under the First Amendment.  Only in recent years have we witnessed this corporate takeover of our First Amendment, culminating in the Citizens United ruling.”

–John Bonifaz, Co-Founder Free Speech For People

“I’m most enthused by the younger people…and I wouldn’t have said that two years ago.  I spoke at two college campuses (in Wisconsin) and the students weren’t interested.  Public Service was a dirty word to them. Now they see it differently.  They see you can come together and have a positive impact.  I’m encouraged because they now see that we can win on these issues.”

–Ed Garvey, Founder Fighting BobFest

“One reason we find ourselves in the mess we do today is because the media have so dreadfully fallen down on their jobs over the last 10 years.  It’s beyond sad.  It’s damned dangerous.  For the last 10 years there just has been nobody home.  Yes, there were corporate takeovers of the public air waves and mergers in the news business that meant investigative staffs were let go, but still the folks who were left simply became stenographers for the powerful and it has literally killed us.  The failure of the media to do their job helped lead to wars where thousands are dead for absolutely no reason that anyone can identify today.”

–Brad Friedman, The BRAD BLOG

This entry was posted in Citizens United, Democracy, Labor, Unions, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.