There is probably nothing that grates on my social conscience more than smart people who are anti-government. I don’t mean people who’ve got legitimate problems with politics and policy, but rather the “government can’t do anything right” and “drown government in the bathtub” crowds.
For purposes of this brief argument, I’m going to stay away from my beliefs about the essential nature of government. The point of this post is a rebuttal to blanket critics. And whether you agree at all with my “why” at all, I think you’ll agree this: we live in a democracy, and if you’re reading this from the U.S., you’re responsible for the current state of affairs.
“Wait a minute,” you say, “I voted for the other guy!” Or, “The Democrats are always naysaying everything!” But if that’s your argument, you’d better be ashamed of yourself. Most of us live in extreme entitlement, and even our wars are far removed from active involvement in our own national progress. The simple truth is that far, far too few of us know or care what is going on in our names, and those of us who do pay attention, rarely take the time to do anything about it.
The reasons and excuses for inaction among those who know better are many. I don’t have time. It won’t matter. I used to get involved but I had a bad experience. I might get fired. Those have some truth to them, but they are not justifications. Every time there is a problem in our home, our church, our neighborhood, do we complain, or do we take responsibility? Because what is a home, what is a church, a neighborhood, a country but a collection of us?
On the national scene, the recent financial bailout did wake a lot of us to action. It also created a template for citizen action that can and should be repeated. Here are three things you can do:
Educate yourself. There is no longer any excuse for not knowing how to get involved. If you don’t know what RSS is, you can simply set up a Google News alert to notify you when a story in your area of interest comes along. There are also many new direct democracy sites, like You2Gov, springing up to help you.
Join Facebook. It is simply the easiest platform for sharing and collaborating on matters of importance.
Call your congressperson. The numbers are easy to find, and yes, someone will answer the phone (even during a firestorm like the bailout).
Next time you think about complaining about the government, remember, you’re part of it. Do something.