Civic Diary 4/24/2016

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

OK I got off a bit on posting on my Civic Diary by a few days.  Pretty crazy week.

So if you’re new to this, this is my experiment in being a better citizen.  I’m posting once a week.  My current major efforts are to be more aware via joining organizations and following them, writing my representatives, and in general contemplating and analyzing what to do next.

So what did I learn

  • First it’s easy to think our representatives do the right thing, but sometimes they do stupid ones.  To wit, Feinstein, one of my reps backed a pretty badly thought out security bill in Congress.  So I wrote her specifically on that.  Gotta take the good with the bad – and I’m glad my continued awareness led me to figure this out.
  • Secondly, as I follow politics the truth of the matter is that to affect politics you have to be in an organization or be involved in one.  That’s it, end of story..  When you watch the protests organized by Democracy Now, or realize how people are involved in awareness and get-out-the-vote efforts, you realize people who get stuff done make the difference.  Yes, these people may be “the establishment,” but you’re not going to change that establishment until you get involved and make a counterpart or become part of it and change it.  Anyway, I think I need to ask more on how I can do my part organizing or being part of an organization – and Martin Longman puts it best, so just read this column.
  • Third, that question of “what more can or should I do” makes me realize the limits so much of us have – time.  There’s a lot of different tensions in our lives, which is a pain, but at least we can be aware of them and find a resolution.  Maybe you want to be an engaged citizen but can only do so much as you’re damn busy – at least you know it, admit it, do what you can, and maybe change what you do when life is less crazy.
  • Fourth, political activity is not a substitute for social activity.  Community work, your friends, family, city, clubs are also important.  I think there’s a kind of continuity we need to find between all levels of our lives to be good citizens . . . and it’s different for each of us.
  • Fifth, the more I pay attention to news the more I realize how much B.S. is out there.  The news is a product and it’s meant to get your attention.  Be selective in your news consumption, and look for real information.
  • First and foremost it’s about Citizenship as Nancy LeTourneau puts it.  Read that column too.
  • A lot of these realizations are pretty humbling.  Asking how to be a good citizen kinda makes you realize where you fail or are ignorant, and suddenly you don’t get so arrogant about your fellow citizens activities.

That’s it for me.  Have you started your Civic Diary yet?

– Steve