A few thoughts on Civic Duty

For anyone who knows me, government has always been one of my true passions. Aside from law and legal matters, I’ve always been fascinated with governing institutions. One of my favorite highlights of my high school career was being able to spend a week in Washington DC as an exciting participant in my school’s Close-Up program. A program that focused on the American government. We attended workshops, toured our nation’s capital, and learned about how our country is run and why it runs the way it does. (And I shook the late Senator John McCain’s hand! I didn’t really know who he was at the time but that was a pretty awesome moment)

Anyway, back to my thoughts. I am proud that our country fought for and decided on a democracy. That we are a country governed by the people for the people. I know that phrase is thrown around a lot but it is thrown a lot for a reason. It means everyday people get to choose how they are governed. If we don’t like something we are empowered to make our voices heard through proper channels and lots of hard work. We have the opportunity to fight for our way of life and we get to choose who does that. And while that may seem like a lot (because it is a lot), that’s something to cherish, value, and protect. Not everyone has that kind of empowerment.

Seeing how close these last two presidential races have been has made me even prouder to be an American citizen regardless of the outcome of the on-going election because at the very least these elections have proved that your voice matters, that your voice counts, that your active participation in the governing of your country is immensely important. Regardless of who wins, the election numbers and it’s close, razor-edge results proves at the very least that you matter. That we matter. And that we can make a difference. 

With that said, there are few thoughts I want to share. I’m writing this on a timed writing exercise so I apologize in advance if my thoughts aren’t as fleshed out. They are my general thoughts on government and democracy. It’s how I see our democracy outside of political parties.

There is power in local government. And we should pay attention to it.

This is totally a generalized feeling I get whenever someone talks politics with me but it seems many people overlook the power of the states. How you live your everyday life begins with you, in your homes. “Well, who I voted for lost so whatever” seems to be the general attitude I pick up on. To which I have to ask, if you’re not going to care about them and how they do they their job why should they care about you?

There are three branches of government and they all are equally important because they all share powers that govern our country.

Presidential elections take center stage when it comes to elections. All eyes are on the one who wants to lead the country for the next four years. Rightfully, so. Whoever that person is will pretty much be the face of America. But let us not forget that Congress are our policymakers for the fact that we are the policymakers. Congress represents the people of the state, so you and me. What they pass and what they don’t pass reflects our collective voices. We need to hold them accountable. Equally important is our judicial system because they help to enforce those policies. They are the ones who interpret and make sure those policies are kept. And this applies to all branches of government: county, state, and federal.

Remember, they share powers so that one cannot overpower the other. In one book I read that I can’t think of the name or the authors at the moment (since timed writing exercise), in some ways this shared power helps our country to slow down instead of letting one radical idea runaway with the country. One way of thinking cannot truly overcome another way of thinking without vetting the argument.

Because we live in a democracy and have the right to choose our leaders it is our responsibility to care.

There should be more thought, more mindfulness, and more participation on our part. We should pay attention when our local leaders ask for feedback or when a bill makes it to the floor for discussion. Feedback from their constituents helps them stay in touch and in tune with, well, us. And we should do this at all levels of government: county, state, and federal.

For those of us who just don’t like to get involved . . .

I understand, but you are already involved. You were born in a democratic society. Check in with the state of your living space every now and then just to see if it’s still the kind of world you like living in. It’s a very broad call to action and missing a few key pieces but the bottom line of it is that only you will care about you and what’s important to you so if you’re not the one running for office you are trusting that your elected leaders will and, at very least, make life bearable so be sure that they’re doing that for you.

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