As 2014 comes to a close, Brigade President James Windon shared some thoughts in The Huffington Post this week about what the New Year should hold for public participation in our democracy. An excerpt:
“By the time the 114th Congress convenes next month, the midterm election will be a fading memory. On Capitol Hill, attention is expected to turn to a range of issues from international trade and immigration, to healthcare and energy. And when statehouses gavel in, they’ll also get down to business proposing, debating and voting on laws that will impact hundreds of millions of people locally.
While it’s true that elections capture the national zeitgeist and mobilize tens of millions of people to be politically active for a single day, the vast majority simply don’t know what their elected officials are doing (or in many cases not doing) in the 23 or 47 months between casting ballots.
And this is a problem. Ongoing political disengagement throughout the year (aside from election time) leads to a clear disconnect between the people and their government. And that leads to an anything-but-virtuous cycle of incumbents getting re-elected at shockingly high rates as their public approval ratings sag at near-record low levels.
A big part of fixing this broken system is empowering people to take direct action on issues that matter to them and encouraging them to hold politicians accountable while they’re in office, rather than waiting for the next election to roll around. We can bridge this gap by creating tools that facilitate informed conversations about important topics as well as simple but meaningful actions between citizens and their elected officials.”
Read the full column here.