Thursday, October 17, 2013

What You Don't Know...

National politics have been center stage in recent days. Most of us know what the Senate and the Congress do, and what the President does. Many of us know who our Senators and Representatives are. We learn more about national politics in school, I think, than state or local. When a crisis like a government shutdown occurs, we find out a) how local it can actually get, and b) how much we really don't know about how it all works.

But how much do we know about State government, for instance? I am not addressing this to my friends who are political geeks and enthusiasts--I know that you know. I am talking to basic, ordinary people. What district do you live in? Who are your state delegates? Senator? When they go to Annapolis, what is it exactly that they do? Do you know?

The old saying is that what you don't know won't hurt you. So maybe if we just focus on national politics the local stuff will take care of itself and we won't have to take the time to learn much about it. I mean, it can't be that important, right?

Speaking for myself, I am finding my ignorance and complacency challenged by my friend and fellow blogger Tom Coale, who is seeking to represent the residents of the newly-drawn District 9 B as a state delegate. As he does the work to connect with voters and outline his goals I find myself drawn in. But then part of me backs up and says, "But, this isn't my district."

What difference does the delegate of District 9 B make to someone living in District 13? Shouldn't I focus my attentions on the issues and candidates in my own district? Is getting involved in another disctrict's race "cheating", somehow?

Well, recent events at the national level have given me a new perspective. Lawmakers in both houses, whose names I may not even know, who were not elected by me, worked to get us out of the mess we were in. So, it seems likely that could happen in Annapolis, too. Doesn't it?

And shouldn't we all be invested in bringing one more voice of intelligence, thoughtfulness and compassion into government? We can't be there to watch these people every minute. Public trust is no joke. Or shouldn't be. Just as we strive for healthy, vibrant communities in which to live, we will be best served by electing a healthy, vibrant community of legislators.

Just imagine it.

So yet again, someone has challenged my little voice that says, "It's not really my responsibility." And now I've got to figure out what to do about that.



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