BY STATE REPRESENTATIVE NATE BELL –
Much of my time is spent visiting with folks who are interested in or concerned by what is happening in Little Rock or Washington, D.C. Nearly all of the folks I speak with are upset with both Republicans & Democrats and feel like the leaders of both political parties are completely out of touch with ordinary Americans. In many ways, that’s the truth. Whether it’s runaway spending, astronomical debt, draconian regulations, restrictions on personal freedoms or any of a litany of other issues, politicos from all labels have contributed to the current debacle.
We all know this. It’s not news. Even those of us in elected offices are frustrated by out of touch folks in party leadership who just don’t “get it.” This week, I visited with a legislative colleague and listened as he shared his frustration with leaders of his party and their demands that he keep silent about his frustrations with Obamacare. I’ve personally felt the sting of my own party leaders attacking me when I pushed for non-partisan sheriff’s elections and on other issues.
In our electronic world, we can complain from our couches via a variety of social media, text messages, phone calls, emails and even the traditional letter. Complaining about political parties is easy. Solutions usually involve that 4 letter word, WORK. The solution to out of touch political parties is for ordinary folks to be involved at the local level. Some folks believe they can’t make a difference unless they are rich or in a position of authority. This belief is exactly what empowers the few people in charge of the political party apparatus.
Here’s how YOU can make a difference:
- Be informed. This means taking the time to actually read and understand source documents and not just regurgitating the political propaganda of talking heads and bloggers.
- Inform others. Many people prefer not to take a political position because it might cost them socially or in business. When the damage to our country becomes more important than those considerations people will speak up. If you figure the costs of excessive taxation and regulations, it’s probably already more expensive to stay on the sidelines than to be politically active.
- Pick the political party that most closely reflects your values, then get involved in the process of molding it to more closely reflect your point of view. This means taking time to attend county committee meetings (they’re usually boring), attending district and state committee meetings, running for party positions and putting yourself in the position to influence platforms and policies. Most political parties are controlled by the few people who care enough to simply show up at meetings. Contact information for your local party chairs is available from the county clerk and on party websites. If your favorite party doesn’t have a committee in your county, organize one. Be the chairperson. You’ll immediately be a voting member of the state committee.
- Recruit people with a similar worldview to run for public office. If you want candidates who share your point of view then you must encourage people with those opinions to run for office. When they do, write their campaign a check and volunteer some of your time.
- Don’t get discouraged when you lose a battle. Stay focused on your policy objective and make every step, “move the ball” in that direction. Good things don’t usually happen overnight.
- When all else fails, do what I did. Put your name on a ballot. This WILL cost you financially, personally and professionally plus it will probably take years off your life but your grandchildren will be glad that you cared enough to make a difference.