The people must take charge of society
SPECIAL from Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin
What do you expect of your life? Do you think about graduation? Higher education? Vocational training? Do you think about getting a job? Traveling? Family? Do you think about government?
You should. We all should. And, when we do, we shouldn’t think about “THE” government. We should think about “OUR” government because, in these here United States we ARE the government. Think about that for just one minute. If that’s true, then everything we hear about the effects of government on our lives is not the result of the things that a faceless “THEY” do to us. It is the result of what WE do, who WE elect and how much WE get involved.
Democracy is a great thing. Its success, however, requires two things: citizens who are informed and involved.
So, how informed would you say you are about your local government? Do you know who your representatives are? Do you understand what the Planning Commission is? The Airport Advisory Committee? The Library Board? Do you know what the City’s General Plan is? An Environmental Impact Report? Do you know how and why City lots are zoned? Do you know how it’s funded and where all that money is spent?
And how involved would you say you are? Have you ever attended a public meeting? Tried to contact a City staff member or Council member? Have you ever checked out the City’s website?
You see, it’s critical that you know these things and use these things, not just because it will be helpful to you during your adult life, but because it will strengthen democracy itself. If you don’t understand government, how can you make the choices needed to make it better, fairer, more effective and more responsive? If you don’t get involved how can you add your efforts to the efforts of all Americans who are responsible for creating, moving and improving our society?
Now, you may be thinking “Oh great. I just finished one government class. Do I have to take another one?”
The answer is yes.
And this is a class that starts before the first time you cast a vote and continues throughout your life. As Abraham Lincoln said on the field of Gettysburg (see, I took history, too):
“…a government of the people, by the people and for the people…”
The people. That’s us. That’ s you. Not “THEM.”
Government, whether it be local, regional or national, isn’t something that someone else does. We may think that no one listens or that our votes don’t count, but that’s not true. Don’t agree? Prove me wrong.
If you would like to know more about your City government and how you can be informed and involved I would be happy to help you. Give me a call at 227-7201 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s not THE government. It’s OUR government. Let’s make sure it stays great.