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Pass the torch — Help maintain Public Citizen's legacy

My fellow public citizens, we are living at a momentous point in history. Alarmed and disgusted with President Bush and his wrongheaded policies, which threaten the very foundations of our democracy, people throughout the country are calling for sweeping and substantive change – a call that hasn’t been this urgent for many years. This presidential campaign has mobilized young people in unprecedented numbers and engaged them in the political process to a truly remarkable degree. We have a unique opportunity to tap into this enthusiasm and energy, and we must seize it. For Public Citizen to maintain its momentum, we not only need your continuing support, but we must grow. We need the involvement of this eager new crop of politically conscious people who care about their communities, want clean energy, call for fair trade policies and demand a fair and open government. Let’s harness these budding activists now.

That’s why we are launching a gift membership campaign called Pass the Torch. We need the support of every Public Citizen member if we are to move forward at this critical moment in our nation’s history. If you know of socially conscious people who care about our democracy and want to help strengthen it, please give them a gift membership to Public Citizen today.

(You can give a gift membership here.)

Please use it to help expand our core of supporters right now by giving a gift membership, or two, to your family members, neighbors or friends of the family. By so doing, you will Pass the Torch to a new generation of citizen activists who will take up our fight for a healthier, more free and more just America. Please act today to help ensure that what we’ve built together not only will continue, but will thrive. Nothing short of our future is at stake.

And what a future it can be! Just think of all the remarkable accomplishments we have made over the past 37 years: Life-saving airbags in vehicles. An improved Freedom of Information Act. The release of the Watergate tapes. The demise of Red Dye No. 2.

Would those things have happened if Public Citizen had not existed? No one can say, of course, but the fact is, we accomplished all these things when no one else did.

We need citizen power now more than ever. Public Citizen is here fighting every day to be the people’s lobby in Washington, D.C. – to keep corporate power in check, alert the nation to which special interests are finagling what deals, petition to have dangerous drugs removed from the market, and go to court to keep government records open to the public. It’s an uphill battle, and we need all the reinforcements you can send.

We are not targeting just the very young – although we did recently create Public Citizen pages on two popular social networking sites, Facebook and MySpace. We also have a blog called “Citizen Vox” to reach out to bloggers and others who get their information from the Internet (80 percent of Americans 17 and older now say the Internet is a critical source of information – up from 66 percent in 2006, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism).

In short, we need to reach anyone who cares about the future and wants to make a difference.

As a committed supporter of Public Citizen, you know better than most that it is concerted citizen action and unrelenting engagement of individuals that makes systemic change possible. Each of us must do our part.

Please stand with Public Citizen now. Pass the torch. Share your values and belief in activism by giving a Public Citizen membership to your children, your grandchildren, your neighbors, your family friends. Pass the torch to a new generation of Americans today, and help Public Citizen continue to work for you.

(This commentary was also published in Public Citizen’s member newspaper. More articles from the latest edition of Public Citizen News can be found here.)