I wrote this several nights ago and posted in the Notes section of my Facebook account. I was re-reading it tonight and realized that I’m really proud of it. For that reason, I’m reposting it here.
I’ve always prided myself on being a responsible American because I’ve voted in every single election since I became eligible to vote way back in 1982. Not just national elections, but state and local ones, too. And then, after spending my 15 minutes at the polling station and pulling that lever, I go back to the comfort of my living room to watch returns and feel good about myself because I voted and made a difference.
What I realized tonight, while watching television pundits at 2 a.m. is that I’ve been falling way short of truly being a responsible American citizen.
I know who my congressman is (Bobby Scott, D, Virginia). I know who my senators are (Jim Webb, D, Virginia and Mark Warner, D, Virginia). I know basically where each stands on the issues. I know that I kind of agree with some of their positions and I kind of disagree with others, which is okay because they don’t just represent me…they represent everyone in my congressional district and in the State.
For the first time EVER tonight I wrote to Bobby Scott, Jim Webb and Mark Warner. I’m not here to advocate a position. If we don’t already see eye to eye I’m not likely to change your mind and you’re not likely to change mine. That is not the goal.
I lay here tonight, trying to sleep, with one million and one things running through my head, not the least of which is…why haven’t I written these employees of mine before? Yes, employees..of mine. I hired them to do a job and that was represent my interests in Washington. And you hired them, too…to represent YOUR interests in Washington.
I said to a very good friend a long time ago that I don’t understand why we’re not protesting in the streets. I look back at newsreels from the late 60s and early 70s and I think, “We should be doing that. We should be stating our beliefs and holding our elected officials accountable to our beliefs.” I’m not suggesting that we should be burning things or throwing bottles. I am saying, though, that we should be in touch with our representatives. And they should be in touch with us.
I don’t care what your position is on National Healthcare or the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I care that you stand up and that you tell your elected officials your position. I care that we start to remind our elected officials that they work for US, the people. That it is OUR government and that we have entrusted them with the honor and responsibility of representing each and every one of us as best they can.
It gets iffy there, doesn’t it? I mean, if your position is different from mine and we have the same elected officials, what then? Well, majority wins folks. It’s what we’re taught in kindergarten. It’s what we practice in high school mock elections and student council elections. It’s about being good winners and losers and always remaining civil regardless of the side you’re on.
I’ve been very lucky. I’ve been able to live in several foreign countries and I’ve visited many more. I can’t think of a place that I’ve visited that I’ve hated, that I’ve said, “God, get me out of here.” But I’m always happy to come home, to feel those jet wheels touch down and hear that pilot say, “Well, we’ve landed here in Washington, DC and the temperature on the ground today is <whatever it is>.” I’m proud to be an American and I love talking about America when I go overseas.
Write your congressman, write your senators. Tell him/her your position. Follow up with them. You’re not bothering them. They’re there to listen to us. It’s their job. The one we hired them to do. I think, no BELIEVE, that if we start communicating, with each other, with those we elect, America will become strong again.
It’s not really about healthcare. It’s not really about taxes or wars. I know that I feel disenfranchised because I feel that I’m not adequately represented on “the hill.” Tonight I took a step toward correcting that feeling for myself. I wrote three simple little letters, asking my elected officials to represent my position in the national debate. My position may not wind up being the winning position but that’s okay. At least I tried to make my little voice heard up there among the power brokers. At least the people that I sent to Washington to represent me will get my three little emails in the morning.
And if you and you and you and YOU send your three little emails then perhaps we really can go back to a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Or maybe I’m just naive. Been accused of that, too. But I feel better this morning. And I don’t feel disenfranchised.