“What can one person do?”
It's almost a rhetorical question, the person asking it obviously expecting his listeners to recognize the insurmountable odds he faces and excuse him for not even making the presumably futile effort.
It's a cousin to that other question, “Why are there no heroes anymore?” A question which begs the question whether or not there are.
The simple, honest answer is that there are lots of heroes today, as there always have been, but people prefer not to recognize them for fear that they might be expected to follow their example.
One might legitimately ask why there aren't more heroes today, but the answer to that is simple, too. There aren't more heroes today, or at any time, because too many people are content to ask “What can one person do?” and assume it's a rhetorical question.
If you want to know what one person can do, ask Kurt Prenzler.
Prenzler is currently the Madison County Treasurer. He's also the guy who exposed the wrongdoing of former Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon, who was sentenced years later to federal prison for rigging delinquent tax sales.
Prenzler ran against Bathon in 2006, almost ten years ago, and lost. In the process, however, he publicized the details of Bathon's corruption. Though “county officials did nothing,” he recalls, a federal investigation eventually ensued and Bathon pled guilty.
Four years later, Prenzler ran against Bathon’s successor, Frank Miles, and won.
During his tenure as county treasurer, Prenzler has automated tax sales, cut his budget by 30 percent, saved approximately $2 million, and tripled the county's investments in local banks, increasing them from $30 million to $90 million.
That's what one person can do, in case anyone's asking.
Now Prenzler is running for County Board Chairman, promising to cut spending and taxes, expose cover-ups, and transform the board into a more deliberative body, as opposed to a rubber stamp.
Prenzler's just one person, but he's the person who could do it.