DEMOCRACY REQUIRES DEDICATION AND TENACITY
To have a government that is truly of the people, by the people and for the people, the people must actively involve themselves. We must each personally ENGAGE in the democratic process.
The US system of government requires citizens to drive it.
When citizens treat government as self-driving, they lose control.
In 1791, the year that the US Constitution was ratified, people got around with horse and carriage or on foot. Citizens were used to making effort to get anywhere and were un-phased by a government that required them to actively participate. In 2017, a year in which Tesla is marketing a self-driving automobile, citizens are increasingly impatient with anything that requires careful attention and effort. Democracy requires both. To have the government that we want, we must personally ENGAGE in the democratic process. If you are among the majority of Americans who had come to see our government as a self-driving entity, you can start engaging again with these first steps.
Step One: get informed and help your neighbors get informed. Start by making a list of all of the elected 'public servants' for your zip+4 area. Much of this information is already partially compiled on websites, but it is not compiled for every office for every zip. Even more important, as you gather this information for yourself from several sources, you will gain an ownership of the information that helps you dedicate to action on it. Include ALL ELECTED OFFICES in your list - municipality, County, State, and Nation. Include contact info, party affiliation and next election date for everyone on your list.
Step Two: learn what legislation is being considered by each of the Legislators who affect you (township, county, state, federal). Relentlessly communicate your position on every important point. We have been too complacent too long. Now, getting LOUD with people who want to retain their seats is essential. Start sending letters and emails all of the time (if writing letters to your representative is a new thing for you, feel free to use a template that we provide here).
Step Three: monitor your legislators' votes and reward legislators for conscientiously representing you and censure offending legislators who support poor or self-serving agendas. Make sure that they know what their constituents want. Make sure that they are representing you.
Step Four: learn about how the Electoral College works and how Gerrymandering makes the Electoral College and every other aspect of our government fail to work. You can get a quick tutorial about the Electoral College and Gerrymandering in a "Civics for Grownups" seminar that we have right here on this site. If you think the Electoral College is completely obsolete, begin work to change Eletoral rules for 2020. If you think the Electoral College still serves a purpose, but Gerrymandering has undermined its effectiveness, begin to work to end Gerrymandering. You can view the slideshow for "Civics for Grownups" and the speakers' notes for the slideshow.
RIGHTS ARE LIKE MUSCLES. IF YOU DON'T USE THEM, THEY VANISH.