The Election is Over Now by Kendra Howard, guest writer for the DJA
One of my favorite singers is the Luther Vandross. His songs tap into our emotions. Even though he is no longer with us, one of his songs expressed how most Americans feel right now, post-election. It is called, “It Is Over Now”.
We should be happy that the election is over now.
So we made it. One of the craziest campaigns since, well, ever, is finally over. No more outlandish memes, loud television commercials, and late night social media posts from our (former) friends, and in some cases, candidates. Everyone is happy. The candidates, their loved ones, campaign volunteers, consultants, and most importantly, the general public – all of us – are happy that this election is over. In the words of late President Gerald Ford during the twilight of the Watergate saga, “our long, national nightmare is over.” Now we can get back to our normal lives and forget about all of this political stuff.
And that is a mistake.
Why do you think people raise an astronomical amounts of money to run for elected office? The office of the president pays less than half a million dollars annually. There were fundraisers held, that in one night, raised more than twice that salary. The salary for a State of Michigan Representative is less than $85,000, but the expenditures of some races were three times as much.
Don’t these companies and people have better things to spend their money on than an election? Of course they do. Then why do they do it?
They realize something that most residents do not. Putting people in elected office is powerful. But you, as resident or as an organization, can tap into this power as well. These elected officials make decisions that impact all of our lives. From school and transportation funding to helping vulnerable citizens such as the elderly and those with special needs, elected officials have the power to make decisions about these topics and many more.
After the election, the power shifts from donors to you, the residents. The people in office have to listen to people who can keep them in office.
Do you know your elected officials, on every level, from local & municipal to federal? You should! However, if you don’t, you are sadly in good company. According to the National Research Center, this year only 19 percent of Americans knew who their local elected were. I am sure most people don’t know who represents them on the state or national level, either.
You don’t have to be in that minority.
There is an online directory that lists every state-level elected official, including yours. It is called the Citizens Guide to State Government. The link is http://www.legislature.mi.gov/publications/CitizensGuide.pdf & it has the contact information for each individual in it. Many offices have periodic newsletters that you can get for free. These newsletters contain information about what is going on in your neighborhood as well as what is going on in that particular legislative entity.
You can send a simple email to your US Senators, Congresspeople, State Senators and Representatives about who you are and your particular interests. For example:
Dear (insert title and name)
My name is ________ and I live in your district. (If you want, you can insert how long you have been a resident there). I would like to be included in your district newsletter.
There, as simple as that, you can now watch over your elected official!
Yes, the election is over now, but your participation in the process should only just begin.