Today is Election Day. I hope you have or will vote. THIS POST IS NOT PARTISAN. Undoubtedly you are sick and tired of political ads. You may have a strong interest in particular candidates or issues. Unfortunately, after today many people will lose interest in what is happening in Congress or their state legislatures. I include myself in that group.
In all my sparring with friends, family and strangers on Facebook and in person during this election cycle, there is one thing in which we all agree. The people we have or will elect to Congress or the White House are not getting much done. I don't mean taking positions on their favorite issues. I mean voting on legislation. Isn't that their job, anyway?
Why isn't the business we sent them there to do not getting done? The answer is something we have all known since Kindergarten. If we don't work together, things don't get done. No matter what political party you support, I have found that this issue produces universal agreement. The difficult part is that after we vote, we aren't interested or have no way to keep an eye on our representatives, senators, governor and president.
One way is to watch the news. The problem with this is there is no unbiased media outlet. If you are trusting the talking heads (on either end of the political spectrum), you are watching entertainment, not news. I have been researching and looking for a place to find information without spin. It's not easy. You can look at the government websites, but it is very difficult to sift through the bills, figure out what they are about and see what was attached to them at the last minute. (This is coming from an attorney who has been doing legislative research for 20 years.)
I recently did find a website I like - Vote Smart (www.votesmart.org). You can find information about your representatives in Congress (even if you don't know their names). You can find information about bills that address your favorite (or not) issues. You can find out how your representatives voted (or not) on particular bills and what those bills are about. Vote Smart is a not for profit and it is non-partisan. They will solicit you for a donation, but it's not required. Even if you don't visit the website, you can ask it to track particular issues, events, representatives and many more things and it will send you an email. In a time when it is very difficult to keep up with what your representative at the State House or in Congress is doing, it's a welcome wealth of information.
You can also contact your representatives directly through email or by telephone - just google to find your rep or Vote Smart has that information too. Many representatives have their own websites. Don't be afraid to voice your concern or support for issues or upcoming votes. It really does make a difference and you are likely to get a personal response from the representative's office.
I realize it won't be easy to keep up with our elected officials, but if we don't try I fear we will end up with more of the same gridlock in D.C. (and maybe your state legislature) for years to come. I would also like to know more about representatives before I am asked to vote based on information provided in negative campaign ads we all hate but see throughout the election cycle.
We can all agree on that, right?
God bless America.