In 2009 President Obama stated the obvious, “Elections have consequences”. And the same could and should be said today. Elections do have consequences. Many that supported Obama then – liked his comment then. Today those same people are feeling the consequences of the past election.
This election gives rise to two American movements. One being the Trump supporters who are mainly white workers that find discontentment in watching the loss of manufacturing jobs in the rural rust belt. The second primarily made of women, young people and liberals who supported Bernie Sanders. These statements are generalities but you get the point. Both movements have at least three items in common. 1) The belief that the usual politics of the past has failed them. 2) Neither movement was built on the backs of the political parties. 3) They believe American is going in the wrong direction – they just don’t agree on the right direction.
This is movement – but what kind of movement? A short term burst of emotion or the beginning of a political populist movement that engages the people of this country.
Today I find our highly-charged discourse both very disturbing and yet also very inspiring.
Disturbing because many people are saying that they thought the election results would be different and did not bother to participate even at the most basic level by simply casting their vote. They look around and want to blame the outcome on other factors. These people now have regrets for their lack of participation and are expressing their outrage. They have the right and privilege under our constitution to express their feelings and emotions – and should do so freely.
Inspiring, because this election has ignited a spark that could erupt into a new fire of political citizen engagement that this country has not seen in many, many decades. Millions marched, from cities large and small, from coast to coast and border to border, to add voice to their discontent. The question is: What happens next? Can the energy of this march be harnessed into a political movement? Is this election the catalyst that citizens need to end their complacent inaction of the past? I believe in citizen engagement. I not only believe you have this right and privilege – but also the obligation.
If you feel disenfranchised – get educated on the process of political influence.
If you feel you don’t have say – learn how to use your effective voice and speak out.
If you want to effect change – get engaged.
If you want new political results – get active.
Margaret Mead an American cultural anthropologist is quoted as saying, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
If you are with an advocacy group, trade organization or non-profit, you have an excellent opportunity to engage your stakeholders, members and supporters in this political climate by providing advocacy education. Not just education on your current issues, but more importantly on how to be an effective advocate. Studies have shown that people don’t participate in advocacy actions because they are unsure how to create the influence desired to be successful.
“Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people.” – President Dwight David Eisenhower
Democracy is not easy. It needs you – the citizen. Citizenship requires commitment. Commitment can lead to change. We desire change – while requiring stability. This is not an easy thing to do. Change is hard, but there is a great opportunity out there for the taking. It is time to reengage, regroup, and prioritize your agenda.
You, the citizen is still and always will be the most important expert.
Let me know if I can assist you in educating your stakeholders on how to be an effective advocacy for the issues and causes you care about.