The more things change, the more they stay the same

6/22/2011, 3:38 p.m.

What must be understood, clearly, is that what happens in 1969 and 1971 will go on. The end of victimizing the poor and the powerless is nowhere in sight. When funds are needed to balance a budget, the pruning knife will continue to be wielded in those areas where the least resistance is anticipated.

Let us not confuse loud voices with effective resistance. Public officials have found they can weather the rhetoric. The time has long since passed when threats, invective or even mass rallies can gain substantive response from the New York State Legislature...unless this protest comes forth from an organized, disciplined, effective political constituency.

One need not accept the system as it exists, nor even participate in it. But if we wish to change it, there are probably only two viable alternatives: the carbine and pipe bomb of violence or the kind of committed political involvement that does more than elect individuals, but becomes a vehicle for the advancement of a community.

It sometimes requires a hard, realistic analysis of community needs and the determination of the most effective method by which these needs can be satisfied. Wishing won't make it so. Political power will!

Mr. Paterson is a former state senator and the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.