Wednesday, November 03, 2004

You've Only Just Begun - UPDATED

This is a political rant, but it is NOT partisan. It stems from a discussion in which I participated in class this morning. Enjoy or ignore. As always, the choice is yours.

Due to a snafu in the transfer of credits, I find myself this semester in an English class with predominantly freshmen and sophomores. This was the first election in which most of these kids had voted. Several were Kerry supporters and were beyond disappointed in the outcome of yesterday's vote. The discussion started with a rather radical female who said she couldn't believe she was in class today. In fact, she plans to skip the rest of her classes and hibernate. She also mentioned that she is considering moving to France because Bush is going to take away the right to choose. What follows is the point I tried to make in response:

Your duty as a responsible American citizen does not end with the election. It is only beginning. As an intelligent caring citizen, your role is not solely to show up once every four years and cast a ballot because P.Diddy or Drew Barrymore told you to. The US is a representative democracy. Contrary to the belief of some, the President (no matter who he is) does not have a magic wand that he can wave to change a law - ANY law. Congress is a part of that process. Congress also plays a critical role in the appointment of court judges. We are moving into a critical period in our country's history. You still play an important role in the political process, regardless of whether your candidate won or lost.

Yesterday you not only cast your vote for the Presidency, but our state also voted in three new members of Congress. I can only hope that you put as much thought into that vote as you did for your presidential choice, maybe more. How many of you have ever contacted your representative to voice your opinion? (No hands were raised). How many of you have ever thought about it? (I was met with blank looks). Well let me give you something to think about. For better or worse, elected representatives are politicians. This could be a good thing or not depending on your point of view. Politicians want nothing more than to be reelected. An elected official that refuses to represent their constituency does not get reelected. It's that simple.

Lest you are so jaded that you do not believe in the American political system, let me give you an example. Last year there were two bills that came before our own General Assembly (one in the House, the other in the Senate) that were very near and dear to my heart. I was very opposed to these bills, as was the grassroots lobby that I volunteer with. I took part in a campaign to let our opinion be known. We called, snail mailed, emailed and faxed our representatives. We contacted our friends and families in other districts to ask that they do the same. You see, our issue is one that many people are not familiar with. The campaign was successful and both bills died in committee. I was told by at least one representative and several aids that they had no idea that people were polarized by the issue. They would have just voted it along as the only side they had previously heard was that of the proponents of the bills. They thought their constituents approved it because they had not heard otherwise.

The election is now over. You still have a choice. You can choose to hibernate and pout. You can bury your head and become apathetic. You can curse the political process and continue the negative effects this campaign has caused. You can let your government work without you and make decisions for you without your input. OR you can choose to continue to let your voice be heard. You can educate yourself and your fellow citizens on the issues that effect you on the local, state and national level. You can exercise your rights and use the system that was set up for your protection by the founding fathers of this country. Or, if you prefer, you can move to France.


I think Ted said it really well at Rocket Jones.


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Name: Cattiva
Location: Virginia, United States

About Me: I'm the mom of three: #1 Son (20), The Princess of Wails (17) and their baby brother - The Baby (6). I was a grad-student working on an MA in history until we were surprised - I mean blessed - with The Baby. I'll get back to it...someday (the thesis, not the kid - I have no choice concerning the kid). I am one of only a few people I went to school with who is actually using their history degree in my career (and to think my Father called it Basket-weaving!). I live a very hectic life amongst massive clutter. I call it a good day if we have managed to get home at night without losing one of the kids (no matter how hard I try!). Friends say I have a humorous take on life's happenings. The sad part is that what I write about is true. I laugh to keep from crying.

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