Like so many others around the country on the evening of November 4, 2014, I was glued to my TV screen flipping in between the different major news networks for the results of the 2014 midterm elections. As the news networks continued making their projections on the different major races, the more anxious I became, as the outcome appeared to become less and less desirable.
Glancing at my social media timelines, I saw an overwhelming number of posts expressing frustration and disappointment about the election results and low voter turnout in certain races. There were individuals pointing fingers and placing blame on different demographic groups like millennials. The reality is whether you voted or not, whether you agree with the results or not, the results are in, America has made it’s decision. So the question is, now that the election results are in, and the candidate some voted for has lost, what do we do now?
Too often, constituents underestimate the power and influence of their constituency in their elected official’s office. Constituents are the core of the legislative engine in America. Exercising your right to vote is just one part of that engine. As constituents, we elect people to advocate on our behalf to work hard for the communities they represent and focus on the people’s agenda. And since these are elected positions, it our job as a community to hold our elected officials accountable to the interest of the people they serve. Therefore, we must increase our level of engagement and we must educate, advocate and expect them to legislate.
We do this by first understanding that all politics are local. We begin by making it our civic obligation to attend local meetings like city council meetings, school board meetings and county meetings where a lot of the decisions that will affect our day-to-day lives are made. We begin engaging with our elected officials by calling their offices, setting up personal visits to advocate for the policies that we support, and by attending their community update forums where we can voice our questions and concerns. And, in this day in age, we can even pull out our smart phones, start a virtual campaign, and send them a tweet!
Do not let what could be seen as an undesirable outcome let you sleep on the power of your constituency. All politics is local, so be seen and be heard! You may have lost the battle, but it does not mean you lost the war.