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The Problem with Democracy


I’m guilty of it.

You’re guilty of it.

In fact, most of us are guilty of it.

Guilty of apathy and ignorance. Guilty of blind faith that our political representatives will have our best interests at heart. Guilty of not educating ourselves on important issues beyond what can be included in a sound bite. Guilty of not voting, not calling or writing our elected officials, and not participating in issues that affect us all.

The problem with democracy is that we’ve got to participate in order for it to work, and we’d rather tweet and update our Facebook status than contribute something during a ‘public comment period’ for legislation that will directly affect us.

When was the last time an issue got you so fired up that you took action about it?

When was the last time you contacted your Senator or Representative and told them where you stand on something?

Yeah, I know it’s been a long time. Like I said, I’m guilty also.

I used to think that changing things was only truly possible on a local basis, or through how and where we spend our money, and that by only supporting those products and companies we believe in, we’re supporting the world we want to see.

While I still think that voting with our money is important, I also believe that we need to make a little bit of a ruckus within the system, meaning that we need to hold our public officials and elected representatives accountable to us.

To do that, we need to find our voices again – our political voice and our citizen or constituent voice.

So I’m issuing a challenge to myself, and extending it to all of you:

To personally contact the Senators and Congressmenpersons for my state and region, and to inform them of my opinion on at least one key issue that I feel strongly about.

I’m going to try three different methods of communication – the phone, email, and then actual snail mail – to see which is most effective in starting a dialog with them.

The aim of this is to actually get a response from them, and then to continue to have a conversation about other issues. Essentially, to have some sort of relationship with them. Because if we never get to the human behind the office, or behind the party, we’ll probably never have an authentic conversation. And in my mind, that’s where change can happen.

Are you game?

You can find contact info for your Senators here: U.S. Senate

You can find contact info for your Representative here: U.S. House of Representatives

You can even try using the social media platform Votizen to contact them.

Need an issue to get behind? How about the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule for coal-fired power plants?

Please join me.

Image: Hey Paul at Flickr

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