What We Must Not Lose

Any number of Red-Staters have posted quite eloquently about the how the election of Barack Obama to the presidency and the first months of his administration have galvanized ordinary citizens and transformed them into political activists.

As i have read these kinds of stories here at Red State and elsewhere on the web, a thought has arisen in my mind repeatedly, which i now express “out loud.” It’s not an original thought, and it’s a bit of advice which i need to apply to myself first and foremost. It’s a thought which has already occurred to many (if not most) readers of Red State already, because anyone who seeks out a site like Red State is already interested in politics.

What we must not lose from this situation is the regular engagement with the political world which so many of us have been spurred to by the election of a hyper-liberal president and liberal majorities in both houses of Congress. The sleeping giant has been awakened, and is active in ways to which ordinary citizens were not accustomed. And we have discovered that we have more power than we thought we did. We have found that our voices can be heard, even when our elected representatives are at the opposite end of the political spectrum from us.

i had, in past years, contacted the people representing me in the House and Senate only infrequently. It was not that i wasn’t being asked to do so; it was more that i didn’t think my voice mattered all that much.

Even now i’m not entirely sure how much my voice counts by itself…so many of my attempts to contact my representatives are acknowledged with a form letter/email, and half the time (or more) it seems like the staffer who responded only half-read what i wrote. And given that my representatives are on the opposite end of the spectrum from me on so many issues, i don’t feel like what i say, no matter how clearly and calmly i try to say it, will have much effect on votes in the House or the Senate.

No matter. i have learned that my voice has more power as part of a chorus of voices, as i join it to those of other citizens in my congressional district and my state. If a representative hears from a single constituent, that is one more voice heard. But as more and more constituents speak out about this issue or that issue, even if their voices don’t constitute a majority, each individual voice carries more weight because it is part of a larger group.

Another thing we must not lose is regular engagement with the issues of the day. Again, i know that people who read Redstate and other such websites do so because they care more about issues than other people do. But we need to stay on top of the issues, and convince others to do the same.

The point of having elected representatives is not that we leave all the political stuff to them and content ourselves with voting for them every two or four or six years. The point of having elected representatives is that we have someone who will listen to what we think about the issues and vote accordingly.