Grazing the Tomichi: Responsibility

by Polly Oberosler

Democracy is a government of participation unlike any other form of governance out there and it is our responsibility to be involved, to vote, to learn the facts and understand the application of those facts. Immigrants and people abroad tend to know way more about American democracy and our republic than we do. On one hand that is embarrassing, but on the other it is a compliment to democracy and us; they are envious.

Our republic was hard fought and has been successful overall. Our parents and grandparents stood in food lines during the Great Depression, reused every scrap of material and found work where they could in a struggle to live. Given what my parents went through, making hay out of wearing a mask to help stop the spread of a nasty virus seems a bit selfish. My grandmother never had that safeguard and died in the 1918 flu epidemic. We have the tools now she didn’t and responsibility to folks other than ourselves. That is how democracy works, that is how neighbors work. We are in this together.

As Americans, we have inalienable rights, paramount among them and what sets us apart is the right to vote and to usher in a peaceful transfer of power. It is our responsibility as voters to be informed, but it doesn’t seem there are many who actually read up on the candidates or know their history or even know how elections work? I wanted to learn about elections out of shear desire to learn, so I volunteered some time for parts of five years or so. You do get paid and it is extremely interesting and patriotic. Maybe that is cliché, but it made me feel proud to be part of our democracy.

It is your responsibility to learn about the candidates before you vote. Those who have been in the legislature before have voting records you call pull up online at www.congress.gov. In fact, you can look up pending bills, who introduced them, when they were written, who co-sponsored them and basically the amount of support they have. If you really want to be informed you go to these resources, not social media sites. To check up on those who have zero government service there are old articles available online, you do not have to listen to a pundit’s opinion, form your own.

Thanks to social media who are making money hand over fist, many well-intentioned people are being talked into all kinds of things. This country right now is operating on a sea of misinformation and it is our responsibility as Americans, to America, to stop it.

Our government is “of the people, by the people and for the people” and pointing fingers just doesn’t cut it when WE are all the owners of the carnage. As Americans we are irresponsible when we jump on some bandwagon without a horse to pull it. This current strife built on hearsay, can be fixed if we bother to learn the truths available and it is our responsibility to do so. It is also our responsibility to make sure ALL Americans are treated equal. There is no better way to pay off this country’s debt than to put all Americans to work in solid jobs. That, too goes a long way to stopping protest. It is no coincidence that everyone is protesting; big money has taken our place in politics. We let that happen.

It is urgent in my mind to teach government in public schools, even if by mini courses a couple of hours a week and also offer adult courses at our local colleges and universities. We must fully understand that democracy only works with our involvement. There isn’t a legislator in office now that does not have an email contact page or a Twitter account; write them with your concerns or ideas.

As for Americans in general, many complain about all sorts of things their government does, but ultimately, we are responsible. We don’t bother to find out why decisions are made, we jump in one end of the pool to create a splash on the other end. You can call your local leaders with input or write your Senators or Representatives for national policy. Locally it is my experience that a lot of thought goes into most problems elected officials face. It is irresponsible to go off half-cocked on them without finding out how they arrived at decisions.

Lastly, I must note in this increasingly violent political atmosphere, guns really did not win the West, handshakes did. For all the historical lore there were not many towns that allowed guns inside the town limits. In my upbringing, words mattered. Responsibility mattered.

If our country gets through this trying time, we will desperately need folks to take responsibility for moving this nation forward; getting involved in decisions and asking questions. Stop taking everything you hear as gospel, especially the social media world. No one is to blame for who we are, except us, all of us. “We the People” need to take some responsibility for their government and this country. It is only as good as what we put into it.

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