“Voices from Our Grassroots” is a series of essays by Illinois Green Party members, describing why they’re a Green! If you’d like to submit an essay, please contact volunteer@ilgp.org

It’s not easy being a Green.

No, it’s not easy rejecting corporate money. Clearly: because neither the Republicans nor the Democrats seem to be able to resist. Brewing for decades, and solidified by the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling and the 2016 Presidential election of real estate baron Donald Trump, it is safe to say that American society is now a plutocracy. Controlled by a gang of wealthy bandits, we are increasingly being held hostage. As Greens, we know that corporate money has no place in a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

No, it’s not easy giving a voice to the voiceless. All of the ten key Green party values relate, directly or indirectly, to advocacy on behalf of the powerless and disenfranchised: The Earth itself, the impoverished, the politically-excluded, the war-ravaged, to name just a few. But standing up for other people – let alone animals or ecosystems – is a struggle in the face of entrenched economic, political, and cultural systems that promote grotesque exploitation. As Greens, we stand up for those being exploited and seek to end their suffering.

And, no, it’s not easy restoring public confidence in the idea that a government can work in service to the common good. How many times have you heard, over the last few decades, that government by definition was evil and responsible for all of our problems? I myself find the notion of “being governed” uncomfortably akin to oppression. Indeed, because government is like technology – those who control it dictate its expression, whether benignant, neutral, or malignant – some forms of government inevitably do wield power oppressively. But, I have come to realize that creating a government that exists to serve the common good is a different thing entirely, and it is a beautiful and noble effort. As Greens, we work hard to manifest just such a noble and dignified government.

As we Greens think about the year ahead and the 2018 mid-term elections, let us remember three important facts: First, the world is changing economically, environmentally, and culturally, and it will never be the same again. Second, right now, today, the world needs us and our key values, and the future needs us even more. Finally, let us not forget that the American people know they are not being represented in their government (as indicated by shamefully low voter turn out, for example), and that this reflects a deep lack of confidence in our two-party, winner-take-all system. It may not be easy being a Green, but this is our time – our time to step up and offer ourselves, our communities, and our nation a truly representative and noble government.