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Resolve to fix the messes we've created

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Reporter

Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 09:01

Sick of hearing about the “fiscal cliff” yet?  Buckle down, because it’s not going away. Instead of accomplishing anything, Congress merely delayed the decision for two months.

Sick of hearing how many Cabinet nominations will probably be approved, but only after tons of posturing and aggression?
Americans have already placed their approval rating of Congress somewhere around 18 percent, according the most recent Gallup poll.

This is almost twice the rating it previously dropped to. Just goes to show just how poorly Americans see the state of our Congress.

We can all sit back and blame them for everything, but maybe it’s time to take a look in the mirror.

After all, this is the only branch of government that operates on direct democracy, so we play a considerable role in creating Congress.

Most will go on the defensive here and argue for all the systemic problems with American politics.  
How gerrymandering districts and interest groups make it nearly impossible to change the outcomes of the races. Hold on a second, though, because this completely neglects to acknowledge that within every state, citizens have the power to elect and hold accountable their own state legislatures.  
The problem is, outside of election years (when the redistricting often occurs), complacency is the name of the game.  
It’s difficult to remain engaged as a citizen with so much else going on. However, there are always voices and groups active that ask for little more than your signature or a phone call to your representative.

So, they’re already up there on the hill, is that the end of our involvement?  
Of course not.

While the power of interest groups is hotly debated, a senator or representative highly values their constituency since constituents are ultimately the ones who vote.  
It can be difficult to directly reach congressmen, but calls and petitions to their offices aren’t ignored. Especially if a high volume of people organize to advocate for the same action.

The results of the 2012 elections maintained the status quo in Washington, with almost no change in the House or Senate power dynamics.  So, despite the horrible Congressional ratings, most districts perpetuated their representation.

 What is it they say about insanity?  Doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result.

Some might argue they had no choice; that voting for the other candidate would have been even worse.

 There are surely countless districts where only two people ran; however, most of the time there would be a primary election to select the new opponent.  
Here, again, is a chance for people to select candidates that adequately represent their interests.

While this whole argument may have seemed overly simplified and idealistic, there really is no reason why it need not be.  In congressional races, even in state legislative races, we the people hold the power to directly elect our representation.  
Sure, there are systemic obstacles, and the amount of effort to keep informed and active can be copious.  
However, with over 70 percent of the public dissatisfied, the hard part is already over.

Until the next election, keep the current senators and representatives accountable by engaging with them.

You’re not alone.

There are watchdog groups, advocacy groups, and national and local leaders just a click away online.  Pick some important issues, look them up, and work to affect political change.

 

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