1. Register to Vote
Simply put, you cannot make your voice heard if you do not show up on Election Day. Some may take the cynic’s view and proclaim that all politicians are cheats, swindlers, etc. so a vote doesn’t make a difference in the end. I disagree with that opinion on the basis that it paints a large number of good public servants with that brush. Those running for public office should be judged one at a time on the merits they present to the electorate. If, you do have a Hobson ’s choice at the ballot box, I suggest it may be because not enough good people are involved in holding their candidates accountable.
2. Vote More Than Once Every Four Years
The majority of people registered to vote only show up in years in which the president is on the ballot. It is such a shame. While I grant you that the presidential election is very important, in my opinion, it is not nearly as important as your local and state elections. It is these offices which impact your daily life more than any other. These offices control how your tax dollars are allocated, how your businesses are regulated, how your schools are governed, and so forth.
3. Read the News
You cannot hold your government officials accountable if you are not aware of what is going on in your community, state, and nation. I recommend you find a few good news websites and check them daily, if possible. Notice I said “read the news” and not “read the opinions.” While it is certainly important to read what others think about the important events of the day, I caution the consumer of news to seek out material that is not opinion masquerading as news.
4. Know Who Represents You
You can’t petition the government if you do not know who your representatives are. Most people know their representatives in the halls of Congress. Do you know who represents you in the state house and senate? Do you know your city councilor and county commissioner? Do you know your school board member? These people are your servants. Find out who they are and don’t hesitate to contact them should the need arise.
5. Know How Your Government Works
Because governments are large, complex entities, most average citizens won’t come close to understanding some of the minute intricacies associated with them. I think this is why many people get confused and decide it’s not worth the effort to comprehend how laws, ordinances, etc. get passed. Nevertheless, it is important to have a basic understanding of how policies and laws are made. This information is vital so that you can be sure your government is operating in a transparent, efficient manner. Start out by learning how a bill goes through Congress and the state house from introduction to its approval or veto. Next, spend some time learning how ordinances are passed on your city council. Finally, it is a good idea to understand how your local school board passes new policies.
I emphatically agree with all of these. It’s almost like I wrote it.
I proud to say that I currently do all five. How about you?