A number of readers have written to the mariner through email to ask a series of related questions.
- The mariner challenges very large issues that require international authority and millions of dollars. Where is the bridge to action for those of us who are not rich or powerful?
- While I may agree with the mariner’s concerns generally, they do not fit the fabric of the American Culture today. I have no resources to buy politicians and I must flow with the economy around me.
- I abhor what the states are doing to block unwanted voters. Do we need another March to Selma?
The mariner shares the readers’ lament. Darrell Issa(R) has been the U.S. House Representative for California’s 49th district since 2001. Issa is considered the richest man in Congress, amassing a net worth between $330 and $600 million. His voting record is conservative, very pro-business and not in favor of entitlements. How does one relatively poor citizen confront Issa’s lock on his influence on our government and what it stands for?
If Issa is not the reader’s representative, Issa will ignore the reader except that the reader may receive a bland response that could be written by anyone. The place to start is with one’s own US Representative and Senators and, if the issue is within the reader’s state, the Governor and the legislature. Do you know your state representatives? Ostensibly, these politicians were elected by the reader and, in principle at least, can be unelected by the reader.
Becoming an advocate for any cause, large or small, is the same as taking up a hobby. The mariner writes to his government representatives whenever there is an issue that is important to the mariner. This could be many times in a month. A prepared letter or petition, often offered by organizations, is accepted but discounted because it is not personally written. A personally written letter, clearly explaining the issue logically and in a cool-minded way will gain you a personally signed response. It will also have more weight. It doesn’t take many letters (or phone calls) to urge a politician to consider his public words on the subject – though this consideration may not change his vote. Nevertheless, persistence and advocacy to others one knows has a way of becoming a campaign issue in the next election.
At the same time that one writes a letter to the government official, one can write a letter to a newspaper of choice to be published on the op-ed page.
Writing to a representative or calling – without losing one’s temper – is one way to expand your influence.
Another way to expand the reader’s influence is to join the appropriate organization that advocates one’s opinion. These special organizations, like Food and Water Watch, an organization to which the mariner subscribes, magnify one’s voice. These organizations have the ability to create news and even television coverage where one individual could not. These organizations usually ask for a modest donation.
In a different vein, one could volunteer for a candidate who advocates the reader’s position. These often are jobs involving phone calls, stuffing envelopes and going door to door. Often, one may be asked to visit the offices of an adversarial politician or make signs for a protest. This is the beginning of grass roots politics and, with the luck of a few important leaders, is quite capable of forcing change. The mariner and his wife had their first campaign job going door to door with brochures for Bobby Kennedy – in a conservative district!
If you are an advocate of voting rights, Hillary Clinton has opened the door for local advocacy in a recent speech. Find those in your precinct who are Clinton voting advocates and help out.
The hard part is one must get away from the television and the easy chair and start using the telephone and going out at night and on weekends. The reader has become a member of the original American democratic process. Don’t let the corporations and big money taunt with funny TV, terrible commercials and false advertising about how good the US is. Become an advocate. It is a more interesting and entertaining hobby than one may think.
Finally, in this post, ALWAYS attend every political party meeting. Be part of the group that shapes policy and may even choose the next candidate. These groups don’t advertise very well on purpose but one can find them and establish rapport. Finally, never, ever miss a chance to vote – even for the judges.