Posted by Matt Urdan on November 4, 2008 at 3:48am
Hello FohBoh, it's been a while.It's really been an incredible and exciting year on so many levels it defies description. For me, one of the most important developments was the financial collapse on Wall Street and the subsequent outrage by the American People.I think this year, our electorate has been energized like never before with the potential candidacy of Hillary Clinton and the candidacies of "celebrity" politicians like Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. And for those reasons, when the financial collapse took place, literally millions of outraged Americans were watching as the President and Congress were debating what to do and designing the unprecedented $700 Billion Bailout Package.While this event is a dark one in our nation's history, what was inspiring were the millions of phone calls and emails Americans like you and me made and sent to our elected officials at their state offices and in Washington. This was participation in legislation like Congress has never seen before. And what was outrageous about the entire process, whether or not you believe the bailout package was necessary, was that phone calls and emails were approximately 9-1 against the bailout bill and Congress ignored the wishes of the American people and passed it anyway.I don't know if this is arrogance on the part of our elected officials. and I don't know if this is Congress showing us that they know more than we do, but Americans are angry that Congress and Washington is just not getting it. We deal with this every day in our own small ways, whether its interaction with our children, or our supervisors or employees at work. But I think Americans have finally figured out that if change is going to happen, it's up to every individual to speak up and take part in the process.Undoubtedly, today will see the largest voter turnout in our country's history. Americans are energized and want to participate in the political process. But what happens after today? Participation is not just casting a vote for President once every four years. Participation means paying attention to what our elected leaders are doing at all times, not just when political ads appear in our mailboxes or on television while we're watching college football or during a break on Dancing with the Stars or Eli Stone or Desperate Housewives.If we, as a people, learn anything at all from the election process over the last two years it's that it's incumbent on all of us to pay attention to what our elected leaders do in Washington every single day--so that we are informed and make informed decisions about whether he said this or she said that or he voted for or against on election day; but more importantly, so that we can respond and participate and give immediate feedback.If our employees in our restaurants are out smoking when they should be taking care of our guests, we're not going to wait until an annual review before we let them know, right? We're going to deal with the situation immediately. So the same should be in Washington. If our elected leaders vote in a way that we disagree with on important legislation that affects our businesses and livelihoods, why should we wait until the next election to let them know our displeasure?In my opinion, Congress has been the mouse in charge of the cheese for too long. It's time I personally reclaimed my responsibility to participate as a citizen of the United States. To that end, I have joined with a team of my fellow bloggers in creating a new website: Inside Government. It is the aim of Inside Government to help educate any one who is interested about how our government works, and to be a non-partisan watchdog on key issues that affect us all.Inside Government is brand new. Our first posts will appear this week after the election. If you want to stay informed and to keep participating as an American Citizen beyond Election Day, Inside Government will be one tool to help you do so. You can find Inside Government at http://www.insidegov.org .Thanks for reading.