Politics in the United States today is to many the picture of hopelessness and corruption. And who could blame anyone for thinking that way? Between the not so secret spying on their own citizens, rampant debauchery, and complete ignorance of the importance of the people they represent it is hard imagine thinking highly of our elected officials. Even harder to imagine wanting to be a part of it, but not difficult at all to figure out why so many voting eligible Americans abstain completely.
Activism is for young people or extremists, and does one vote really matter? After all the Electoral College is not even obligated to follow the majority by law. They don’t have to listen to average citizens at all. No really they don’t. Not even with a government that defines itself as by the people, for the people. Why would anyone be an activist when it is so difficult just to be heard?
As a self-proclaimed political junky; no really I watch CSPAN and have more political apps on my phone then everything else combined, I spend a fair amount of my time trying to convince my peers that they should care. I would be willing to bet that there are United States Congressmen that wade through less policy change documents than I do. You don’t need to tell me that it’s weird. I have friends who dedicate a comparable amount of time making sure I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I know I am weird. Why would anyone want to be an activist when politics are so droll?
So how do I try to convince the people categorizing the extent of my addiction that they really should give a damn about politics? I tell them it’s their birthright. I tell them whether or not your vote could sway a decision it is still symbolic of your voice in our government. I tell them that odds have been beaten and differences have been made throughout our history simply by ordinary citizens practicing peaceful due process. I tell them that it is personal to their everyday lives. I don’t know if any of that moved you, but it does not convince my friends. Why would anyone want to be an activist when most of the issues never seem to affect them?
You want to know what does make them want to be activists? Seeing its' effects live online from Texas parliament. By now anyone not hiding under a rock has heard the exciting story of American politics that unfolded in Texas’ recent special session. Yes I did say exciting politics. It started as a caffeine and pizza fueled citizens’ filibuster and evolved in Wendy Davis’ impressive 11-hour long stand. It happened because normal citizens rallied together behind a cause they believed. They showed up by the hundreds to speak in session themselves and then by thousands to support Wendy and Texas’ democrats when she dutifully took up the torch for them the next day.
Maybe I can’t convince my peers, my friends, or you with romantic tales of our four fathers’ fight for freedom. I understand that long winded speeches about policy bore most people to tears, but every once and awhile something happens that explains it for me. No matter what side of the issues you fall moments like this do us all as Americans a great credit.
Why should you be an activist? Activism is inspiring, it works, and it is the light that turns hopeless politics into stories of legend and repute.