This goes out to all you folks who've spoken on the structure of arguments/debates, and know more about it than I do.
A friend and I get together on a regular basis, and we sit down and talk about all things political, and what's getting under our skin. Yesterday we had a particularly fruitful session that lasted about two hours. Before we left, I asked that he be thinking between now and the next meeting about what we can DO about all our beefs.
I come to you asking for help/advice on two things. First, any ideas that you guys can come up with about how to take action would be great. Letter writing to Congressmen as well as phone calls have been basically ignored. We are frustrated by many things, but one of the key issues is that Congressmen never release their stance on an issue prior to voting...at which point it's too late.
Second, we are considering letting this thing grow, and inviting others. We would need a rule format of some sort if we did this concerning the conduct of those involved. Suggestions?
Here is one suggestions. I also want to hear more.
* Write the letter to the Congressman anyway. The Economist magazine asked Congressmen and representatives what they pay the most attention to, and they said: email, almost nothing; telephone calls, more; letters sent by mail, quite a bit. Because whoever went to that much trouble must care. (And yet I have not done this this year. One Congressman is already in agreement with me; one Senator gave a speech listing people like me as enemies of the type of America he wants to create; not sure about the other Senator. But even hostile reps should take notice when they get enough letters.)
I would like to hear how better to influence parties. New York, as we know from a current election, lets a candidate run for multiple parties, so in addition to the 2 you can't get election without, you can be a Worker's Party candidate or Conservative Party or whatever. I don't see why other states couldn't have this unofficially; it would essentially be an endorsement.
And couldn't the web be done to more effect? I think its main direct political use right now is soliciting campaign cash.
Doing what you are doing now is very productive, spreading the word of your political beliefs to like minded people. Voting is the final test of what you believe, support the candidate that reflects those views, make calls on his/her behalf and help out the campain with volunteer work. Don't get beligernt when discussing issues with those of different persuesions, think about your topics and what things can be done to achieve those aims before opening your mouth and getting angry. Keep discussions relevant to how things will affect the individual person so they can see how one side or the other on political issues will directly affect that person's life for the better.
I have a good relationship with my representatives. They all have public events from time to time and I take those opportunities to go to them and talk directly with the representative in an informal environment. It matters not if the rep is dem or repub or indi, there are many things you may have in common to discuss (hunting, cars, etc) and keep the disagreements civil and well thought out.
There's something I think could be helpful, but not something we do ourselves: candidates having Facebook pages, like Sarah Palin, in which they post regular content, and help us to actually get to know them. Back in the '08 primaries it was difficult to learn about the candidates, because their web sites took vague positions like "we support sensible policies on issue X" (hard to argue with that!). Up-and-coming pols -- at least, the ones who want us to know what they stand for! -- would be well advised to do the same.
But Joseph asked a more useful question: what can *we* do about this. Advise them to get connected on the Internet, or become weekly columnists?
I've been tempted to let the local representative, Rick Boucher (Ninth District, VA) know that he will not run un-opposed in 2010. However, I'm not sure my campaign would be a feasible option. It may take a few more years.
That's not what we're looking to achieve, though. For instance, just about every beef I have with the system can be traced back to a lack of knowledge/education. How do I affect a change there?
And regardless of the relationship I form with a representative, and how informally I'm able to talk to him, his voting record is still his voting record. You can be a good guy, and have a crappy voting record, requiring removal from the House of Reps.
Very true and I cannot argue that point. If the guy is an idiot, then he should not recieve our support. But I have effected change from politicians with whom I don't agree with on national topics, but instead presssed them on local issues such as motor vehicle laws, zoning etc. It's very difficult to change things at the national level so forget about that for the near term, but the local and state level is where you should start. Get yourself involved with city council (many seats have nobody running for them at election time so it should be pretty easy to get voted in) and from that platform your voice will have greater volumn with the congress and senate.
Throughout the history of mankind great minds and scholars have been grappling with the problem of educating the public, all have failed. Let me know straight away if anybody on this forum has the solution, I will be much interested. In the interim, try to educate your friends and co workers with solid, verifiable facts, not personal opinions and bumper sticker philosophy and hope for the best.
I think ignorance in local politics leads to ignorance in national politics. One of the things that I do is listen to local talk radio. I actually work for the biggest newsradio station in the market and am climbing the ladder to get an on-air position. The beauty of local talk vs syndicated pundits is that most local shows are able to host their candidates and present rationally logical debate about the issues. There will always be emotions in politics, but the more you can effect a change on your local level, turning politics into something based on understand of the roles of government and rational ideas instead of who gives the best speeches or condemns the other party the most.
You should talk around to some of the smaller AM radio stations to see about doing a talk show. It will probably start out on the weekends, and you won't make any money off of it. If you do some underground campaigning with things like posters, facebook updates, blog updates, flyers on campuses, and other stuff like that, you'll start to build a decent listenership. I know a lot of universities and community colleges have streaming radio stations you might be able to get on-air with as well.
I could die happy if I live long enough to see term limits mandated on congress and senate. Get some fresh blood in there for crying out loud! I don't think the founders envisioned carreer politicians and would probably be horrified with the knowledge it's accepted as commonplace.
You are exactly right, John. That is why there was originally no salary associated with elected office. It was never intended to be a life calling, and in reading the federalist papers, not only was it not meant to be a life calling, but specifically intended NOT to be.
Can you imagine telling the current crop of chuckle heads in office that they would no longer be paid for their "service" to our country?
That would be nice! Why do they get paid anyway? Not one of them needs the money or the life long bennies. I'd like nothing more than to tell every one of the clowns that the circus is over, do your 8 years or whatever and get the hell out. That's what I like about Virginia, a governor can serve only one term, that's it. He's got 4 years to get his work done so there is no time for tom-foolery. I know two former governors on a somewhat personal level and they both say that a VA governor is the hardest working politician in the country.
In response to Mr.Schaefer, one of the main reasons why holding office is a paid position is because for example George Washington said that he would work for free (granted he was president not a senator) the powers that be decided otherwise so that in the future government positions weren't being held by only those who could afford to work for free. Basically avoiding what happened in England at the same time with an aristocracy. But I completely agree with the term limit.
"What I tend to carry:
A deck of cards,
Leatherman Wave multitool and sheath,
A flash drive,
Wallet with ID, Metrocard, and Debit card,
Glasses case with spare glasses and cleaning silk.
A charger and cord.
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