Wherever you may fall on the ideological spectrum, there is no doubt that more and more Americans are paying attention to what the government is up to. For years, We, the People have treated the government like we do our houseplants: water it every so often (vote) and sit back and see what happens (madness).
This passive participation climaxed in 2016 when the perfect political storm created a tsunami of first time voters. Reuters reported shortly after the 2016 Presidential election, that 8.6M of the 136.8M citizens that took to the polls in 2016 voted for the first time.
The sad reality? There are 245.5M Americans of voting age in this country.
What that means? Barely half of Americans eligible to vote choose our Nation’s government officials.
That number drops dramatically in mid-term (Congress), local and state elections.
Is it any wonder Americans feel as if their voices are not heard when nearly half of eligible voters don’t participate?
Envision an America in which the vast majority of citizens vote; in which We, the People take an active role in the decisions our communities and nation make.
What would that look like? Who wants to shake things up?
Here are some ways each of us can make a difference:
Pick one (or more) areas of public policy that you are passionate about and do one thing to make that passion active.
We, the People have given our governments a lot of power. They legislate every aspect of our life: education, public safety, business practices, the salaries we pay them. Those of us who are parents may feel strongly about our government’s role in the education of our children. Some have sick or elderly family members whose number one concern is the cost of health care. Maybe you’re a military family who deals with the VA every day.
Nobody says you have to be all things on all issues. Pick one. Google your position and find groups who share your passion. See what they are doing to shape policy. Maybe something will strike your fancy. Get involved. During a campaign, take 30 minutes, see where the candidates running stand on that issue and vote appropriately.
The 21st century offers us an endless highway information. It is difficult to weed through the bullshit and find what’s really going on. Between the internet, 24 hour news networks and our smart phones, the bombardment never ends. How can the average Josephine make sense of a 180 page bill related to her VA health benefits?
The truth is, we rely on our elected officials to do this gig…and we pay them for it. But that doesn’t take us off the hook. You can’t be snowballed if you’re in the know. Here’s a link to active legislation in the US Congress. See if your issue has upcoming committee meetings or votes scheduled. If this is all Greek to you, hit me up. I will help you figure it out!
Quit bitching on social media and contact your representatives.
We, the People pay the salaries of our representatives and their staffs to handle constituent (that’s us) communications. Our lawmakers are literally (insert dramatic pause here) a key stroke away; let the people who are to represent your interests know what your interests actually are.
Don’t have the time to type up letters to your senator? Never fear: just copy and paste this simple (email)(social media comment)(phone call)(letter to the editor)(postcard to your representative):
Dear [Enter official’s name here]:
While I may or may not agree with your personal convictions regarding [Insert topic of choice here], I hope you will consider [Insert your position on the topic of choice here].
Thank you for your service.
[Insert your name here]
Unsure of who to get a hold of? Click here to find out how to get in touch with your federal, state, and local elected leaders.
Do something in your neighborhood.
The bottom line is that we want the government to benefit the people. What those benefits should include is a topic of MONSTROUS debate. Why wait around for the bureaucracy to do something we can do ourselves?
- Volunteer at the local homeless shelter.
- Contribute to scholarship funds in your school district.
- Attend or organize a fundraiser for a family in crisis.
- Organize a neighborhood clean up day and beautify your hood.
We are all in this together.
Vote. Vote. Vote.
Not registered. No worries. Click here and find out how to register in your state.
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance” ~Robert F. Kennedy, former U.S. Attorney General (1925-1968), from a speech at the Day of Affirmation at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, June 1966