For many, this week is the week they pay attention to who represents us in government and what kind of job they are doing. The future is determined to a great extent by the decisions we make, not only at the voting booth, but if we take time to challenge, encourage and educate those representatives. Here are five things you can do now to help create a better future for our children and grandchildren.
1) Understand the Principles. When we understand correct principles, we make good decisions. Without them we tend to do what “feels good” or we wait until we have to make decisions in an emergency, which usually leads to very bad decisions. I recommend reading the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, “The Proper Role of Government” by former secretary of agriculture, Ezra Taft Benson, and a new book just out – “We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident” by Oliver Demille.
2) Get informed about the ballot initiatives and the candidates before each election. I can guarantee you that voting for someone just because they belong to a specific party will lend your support to at least one or two people that do not support what you think they do. At the very least, go to vote.utah.gov, put in your address and look at the short statements from each candidate and the commentary on the ballot initiatives. The arguments for and against these issues are critical in noticing unintended consequences of the legislation and in being truly informed. You should also go to http://judges.utah.gov/ to get evaluations of judges. There are only a few and you can be better informed in just a few minutes. As to candidates, please do not rely on television and radio ads for your information, either pro or con. Many of these ads are heavily slanted and sometimes outright incorrect on the facts. Viewing the debates helps some as does finding and reviewing the candidate websites. If they are incumbents (already serving and running for re-election), the best thing you can do is check their voting record. This takes a little time and effort, but yields surprising results. The http://www.freedomfirstsociety.org/home/ page links to an evaluation of all federal congress members and their votes as they pertain to sustaining the US Constitution. In my study of those votes, I found that some of our Utah congressional members vote much differently than they talk. For our state legislatures, check out http://libertasutah.org/resources/legislator-indexes/2014-index/ where they provide a similar and instructive scorecard.
3) Vote! You will notice that this comes after #1 and #2. Voting uninformed leads us to support ideals and people that may not reflect what we believe and unnecessary or even destructive changes to our State Constitution and Tax Rules. Don’t assume anything based on party relationships. Refusing to vote is not rebellion, it is surrender. Not casting informed votes is to be part of the problem, not part of the solution. If you don’t vote, you have no right to gripe. If you don’t vote to change the course we are on, you shouldn’t complain about where we are going.
4) Write and call your representatives. Annoy them. Teach them. Persuade them. They do listen, especially when large numbers of people contact them. It is true that often they don’t see your letter, but their staff tells them when 70% or more of the letters they get are for or against something and that matters. Concepts presented with thought and appropriate passion often find their way into campaign speeches and debates that form policies. Take the time. Make the difference.
5) Encourage others to do all the above. Be someone that cares enough to be involved. Find candidates you can support and help them. Take flyers door to door. Contribute. Host cottage meetings in your home with candidates. Put up yard signs and stickers on your car. Listen, learn and be civil. People see and take notice. Make it acceptable to have opinions by making your opinions known. Some might disagree, but most will respect that you care.