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Exercise Your Citizen Muscles

Everywhere I look these days, that smart northern neighbor of ours, Eric Liu seems to be saying something provocative and wise, but his article in last week’s Atlantic, “Democracy is for Amateurs: Why We Need More Citizen Citizens,” was right over the plate in terms of what we are trying to achieve here at Oregon’s Kitchen Table.

He lays it right out there—arguing that the work of democracy has become professionalized and that the majority of us have conceded our role as citizen to the practiced, the motivated, and the highly compensated. And, he argues –rightly so, in my opinion—that we need to redevelop our “citizen muscles.” As he puts it: “Citizenship is too important to be left to professionals . . . It’s time to democratize democracy again.”

And, we’re trying to do some democratizing around here. Every Oregonian has something special to offer, no matter who we are or whether we’re regulars at town halls, seasoned PTA volunteers, new immigrants, or students recently turned on to public issues. The fact is, Oregon needs each of us, and we all need each other.

As the German poet and playwright Gunter Grass put it: “The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.” And, I might add, her ears. Ours are open for what you have to say.

So, check out Eric’s article. Leave a comment on our Facebook page. Send us a picture of your kitchen table (to or join our Flickr group). And, take a seat at the table!

Wendy Willis