What are your elected officials up to?
“There are seasons in politics. The most attention is paid during the quadrennial elections — nothing like a national presidential election to grab the attention of millions of Americans. But the real politics takes place between the elections.” says Jim Moore, Pacific POLS professor and director of Political Outreach for the Tom McCall Center for Civic Engagement.
As Moore points out in his recent contribution to The Oregon Way, right now is actually the time to get involved in politics – if we want our elected officials to live up to our expectations and the hopes we had as we cast our ballot. Without feedback from their constituents, elected officials are left listing only to paid lobbyists, career activists, and serial advocates, instead of the everyday American whom they were elected to represent.
So, how do you get started? A few ideas:
1. Find out who your elected officials are. Then, explore the tech that exists to keep you in the loop on what they’re working on.
2. Find out what organizations and nonprofits are working on issues you care about in your state and join their email lists. They’ll let you know when advocacy opportunities and legislative days arise where you can add your voice to others for maximum impact.
3. If you’re tracking an issue and want to make sure your elected officials take your position into account: making a phone call is significantly more impactful than signing an online petition. And it’s not as scary as it sounds! If you haven’t made a call like this before, a quick read of a guide like Calling Congress Is Easier Than You Think – Here’s How To Do It should put you at ease.
Our elected officials make decision every day that impact our current and future quality of life. An occasional call to let them know you’re paying attention will go a long way toward building the world we want to live in. As Moore notes, “Politics may have seasons, but engagement should be year-round and lifelong.”