When people think of political involvement as just voting every few years, the future can seem very bleak. We continue to elect people who morph before our very eyes into yet another Manchurian candidate for corporations. If Republicans always defend their hero, and Democrats defend theirs, we can never get around to changing the system itself. No wonder people lose hope. But, when we realize that politics is how people share (or don’t share) power, we can also remember that we are never without influence. Our real power begins at the grassroots, not at the treetop. We must together craft a system that serves all the people, instead of betraying one other in service to economic and political systems that do not.

Not long ago it seemed certain that the Obama administration was going to bomb Syria without going to Congress, without international support, and without an apparent strategy other than dropping the bombs and leaving. It was an uprising of popular opinion that forced the administration to go to Congress, and in that delay, for negotiations to break out.

In the same way, the Obama administration seemed dead set on giving the top position at the Federal Reserve to Larry Summers, architect of the devastating attack on Glass-Seagall and other regulations under Clinton that helped set up America for the great Wall Street robberies. It seemed unthinkable that our president would give the keys to the henhouse back to the same fox. It was an informed citizenship and courageous Democrats that rose up to put an end to that nomination.

No one truly loves America who does not also demand that it be a decent citizen of the world. No one truly loves America who believes that the poor were born to serve the rich. Loving America requires a constant revolution under the banner of life, liberty and justice for all. Mature politics thinks in terms of such principles, not in terms of a struggle for power between heroes and villains.

We face many challenges, but there is hope yet for our nation. That hope will be born from the grassroots, and will require that partisans stop defending their heroes and start living by common principles.