After a long, drawn-out campaign and several days of counting and recounting, the 2022 Midterms are finally over. It has been, by all accounts, a brutal campaign, revealing a nation that is more divided than ever. There were many issues on the ballot this year – abortion and inflation chief among them, but one important takeaway emerged from this campaign – democracy was on the ballot and for the meantime, democracy prevailed.
While there is a run-off election in Georgia and election deniers are holding up the certification in Arizona, for most of the country it is a return to normal. Most of us believe that the sum of our civic duty is to vote once every two or four years and then we are done. But we are not finished. Our responsibilities as citizens do not end with the vote. Too many of us leave it up to our elected officials to make the “right” decisions – decisions that we deem to be in our best interests. But often because we don’t pay attention or stay engaged with the political process, we find out too late that our representatives have voted for bills or taken positions that were not aligned with their campaign promises.
And often, too many of us only pay attention to elections when they are national campaigns. We fail to understand the significance of our local and state officials and the impact they have on our daily lives. If anything, we should be more vigorous in our participation in these elections as opposed to the national ones.
So, what do we do now? With our busy lives, how do we stay engaged? How do we make sure that the politicians we voted for continue to work in our best interests? How do we stay vigilant? There are several things that each of us can do.
- Make a commitment to do at least one thing and set a time frame – once a month, once every two months, etc. Commit to some form of political and civic engagement.
- Select your issue. What is the one thing that you are truly concerned about? Is it your child’s education? Is it the growing gentrification in Raleigh’s neighborhoods? Find something that you are passionate about and look for ways to make an impact.
- Look for organizations that are working to advance your concerns and are willing to hold politicians accountable. You don’t have to start from scratch or reinvent the wheel. Find a community of like-minded individuals to work with.
- Download the meeting calendars for City Council, the Wake County School Board, and the NC General Assembly and find out when they host their public meetings. Try to attend at least one. Find out which meetings will allow public participation and plan to speak your mind!
- Join the mailing list of your favorite politician or as many that interest you. You will find out about public meetings and stay up to date on how they plan to vote on upcoming bills.
- If you can, donate. Your monetary support can help a politician’s re-election campaign or support a cause that is near and dear to you.
- Volunteer for a charitable organization. If politics isn’t your passion, find an organization that supports the causes that are most important to you. Your involvement can make a difference, no matter how small.
As American citizens, we can’t just leave it up to the politicians we elect to solve our problems. They are important and vital pieces of the puzzle, and they can help determine the direction of our country moving forward. But they are not the only ones who hold power. As citizens we have tremendous power, not only through our individual votes, but through our collective action of working together to challenge the system and make it better. Let’s each of us plan in 2023 to make this country a better place than it was in 2022.