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My political mentor once told me that there are two basic truisms of politics. The first is that people in power will do exactly what they can get away with, and the second is that the only way to keep them in check is to have the ability to hold a virtual razor at their throats.

In modern politics, the razor that has been most effective is the ability to raise loads of cash in support of a bid for office. While we as individuals wax philosophical about how politicians ought to be more responsive to community needs, the fact is that we have not as a group, been able to match the amount cold hard cash that others have contributed to our leaders. We have not purchased a collective seat at the table and as a result our issues continue to go unaddressed.

There is however, a sharper razor that we’ve yet to unleash. The lock step demands of a well organized community has the power to cut through any amount of money thrown on the table. Just imagine what would happen if we truly had the power to giveth or taketh away hundreds or thousands of votes. The examples are everywhere; labor unions, the religious right and the Latino community of late, have all exhibited a collective show of force that has made their issues worthy of consideration by elected officials.

Community organizing is no small thing. In the absence of large buckets of cash to throw around, it is our only leverage; it’s the only razor we can wield. We can no longer be reluctant to use it as we seek to create change from the bottom up.

In the forth segment of “From The Bottom Up” on NorthStarNews.com, we profile Jacqueline Mason-Francis, a community organizer in Harlem who feels like she is finally being heard.

We have taken up the President’s call to affect change from the bottom up. We want to hear from you. Email us at fromthebottomup@northstarnews.com to become part of our From The Bottom Up community. If you know someone in your community who should be profiled send us a note and we’ll do our best to include them in one of our profiles.

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