Know your politicians

Editorials Opinion

It is one’s patriotic duty to know their representatives

Joe Zylka news editor joseph.zylka@apps.schoolcraft.edu
Joe Zylka
news editor
joseph.zylka@apps.schoolcraft.edu

The fiery Patrick Henry proclaimed on March 23, 1775, “Give me Liberty or give me death.” Henry’s famous speech inspired the American colonists to revolt against the British Empire in the pursuit of liberty.

While many Americans today would likely not go to that extreme to defend their liberty, there is a way to make sure one’s liberties are protected, and it is by getting to know your politicians at the local, state and national levels.

The 114th Congress took office on Jan. 6, and many new faces are representing the people of Southeast Michigan. Newly elected Senator Gary Peters joins Debbie Stabenow in the Senate, while freshman Republican Dave Trott will represent Michigan’s 11th Congressional District for the next two years. In the Michigan Legislature, new faces will join old ones in representing the likes of Plymouth, Canton and Livonia.

Of course, the most important thing one can do in the political process is vote.

“Election outcomes are determined by those who participate,” said Steve Frantzich, Professor of Political Science at the U.S. Naval Academy in an interview with CongressLink. “Elected officials make important (often life and death) decisions about how our society will expend its collective resources and the restraints it will place on individual behavior, and elected officials respond to people who bother to vote more than to those who abstain.”

After the polls close, what else can one do? Many Americans tune out political news and events after election season, but there is so much more that must be done after the votes are counted.

Every citizen, regardless of party affiliation, should either meet with or contact their representatives every now and then to talk about policies and possible changes that can be made to improve conditions. Far too often, citizens will not speak to or stand by their representatives in office because they are affiliated with a party that the citizen does not like.

While one does not have to agree with every proposal or idea from their representative, communicating directly with your representative can increase the chances of seeing the results one wants.

Good citizens must push their representatives for the changes they want to see happen in their community, state and country. Many politicians are able to get away with making empty promises around election time, but fail to deliver their promises because citizens are not putting enough pressure on them to get things done. Meeting with your representatives will show them that they must act swiftly on an issue, because they will anger many people if they do not.

Another way of changing public policy is to discuss issues with friends and family. If one is passionate about a certain issue, discussions with others can spark ideas and creative thinking toward a solution. Openly discussing public policy will also get more people involved in the political process, which would make it tougher for politicians to get away with doing nothing.

Democracy is sometimes messy, and it is not always the easiest solution to solving problems affecting millions of people. However, getting involved in the democratic process is how one’s voice can be heard to keep their liberty protected.