Most of us have seen this map. Yay!!! We won. See, most of the country is red. And that really doesn’t mean much. Yes, the “more” conservative candidates won the majority. Yes, Sen. Harry Reid will no longer be the Senate Majority Leader, so possibly more good legislation will land on Obama’s desk, as (hopefully) less bad makes it out of committee. But this is not enough. For too long now, conservatives have sat back with the “Leave me alone” attitude. If we are to continue to take back our country to its founding principles, conservatives must remain vigilant and adopt proactive habits that will keep us going in the right direction.
First, adopt the habit of keeping an eye on your representatives, locally, statewide and federally. Sign up for their newsletters and practice skimming them regularly. You don’t need to watch every video, just get the gist of what they are telling you. ‘Like’ their Facebook pages. ‘Follow’ them on Twitter. When you read your local news, make a habit of searching briefly for their name, especially in the ‘Politics’ and ‘Op Ed’ sections. Pay a bit more attention than normal until it becomes routine. You’ll find that local politics affects you directly, statewide and federal more indirectly.
Also, make a point to meet these people. And especially, meet their “handlers”, usually known as staff or even the Chief of Staff. Much like knowing the administrative assistants by name, knowing your representatives’ staff goes a long way.
Next, adopt an issue or two. What drives you or drives you crazy? Health care? Health Insurance? Education? Taxes? Religious Freedom? Environmental issues? Government overreach? National Security? Border Security? Finances? Find an issue or two that interests you and start educating yourself on where your local government, state government and federal government stand. Then, find out where your representatives stand. Stay current with what’s going on in your world so you are ready to take a stand when it’s time.
Finally, develop the habit of communicating with your representatives. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, as they say. Your representatives are usually busy. Think from their perspective. Which is more engaging: An angry email dashed off in the heat of the moment by an unknown constituent, a detailed email thoughtfully written by an unknown constituent or a thoughtful email written by someone they know and trust, even if they don’t agree?
Help them help you.
Engaging our representatives is where many conservatives fall short. Ever wonder why that really conservative person you elected seems to drift further to the center over time? When the only people they have to listen to are the ones already there, it’s easy to make what seem like small changes. However, when constituents maintain regular and current communication with their representatives, there is less drift. Elected officials understand that it’s only through votes that they will be returning to office and it’s their constituents who can vote. That’s called “leverage” and it’s all yours.
So, conservatives, it’s time to work out our engagement muscles. For many of you, these muscles may be downright flabby from never being used, to your shame, I say! We’ve got to know who our representatives are, stay informed on issues and engage our representatives regularly if we desire to make any lasting changes in our country. Being a mostly red country is nice. Returning our country to its founding principles is the goal. The pain will be worth it. Start developing these habits today.
Not everything is political. I was talking to a friend of mine about politics and she said she’s basically in the center because she likes conservative ideas of government but is also pro-animal. Sigh. Despite what President Obama has managed to do in his last six years, not everything is defined by political affiliation. Politics comes down to how people and the government relate. We, the People, get to determine how the government governs us and the guidelines for that are in the Constitution.
Some things that are not in the Constitution are what kind of food people eat, what kind of hobbies people participate in, what kind of exercise people do, or even whether or not people like animals. These are not political – they are personal preference. I am trying to eat as healthy as I can stand, so I budget in grass-fed beef and raw milk when we can afford it. That’s my choice. The government doesn’t actually have a say in whether I drink it or not, but they try to through rules and regulations and even laws. If I choose to drink milk that came straight from a cow and skipped the pasteurization/homogenization process, this isn’t the government’s business. This is where I adopt the feminists mantra “My body, my choice”.
Hobbies aren’t political either. Playing video games, for example, interests people from all parts of the political spectrum. Golf, football, baseball, even soccer – none of these sports are related to government. A staunch conservative can enjoy cricket and a bleeding heart liberal can be a Crossfit fanatic (but I repeat myself). In hobbies and in exercise, political leanings don’t play much if anything in their enjoyment or participation.
Finally, being pro-animal isn’t political. Period. A person can believe in a constitutionally-limited government, free market system and fiscal responsibility and be a PETA activist. Yes, they can. There probably aren’t too many of those folks but shades of them do exist. I am a tea party conservative and my favorite animal is the baby harp seal. The seal clubbing that happens in the Arctic breaks my heart. I don’t consider myself “centric” because liking animals isn’t defined by my political affiliation.
Politics shouldn’t define everything. The fact that President Obama and a fair part of the Democrats act as though it should causes much of our social and cultural strife. As much as I love politics, I thoroughly enjoy activities, conversations, and relationships that are apolitical. It’s a good and necessary balance. So, please – let’s stop politicizing everything.