Many of us are frustrated and annoyed by the hypocrisy and infighting in Washington. We are constantly reminded that elections have consequences and November is our time to act at the ballot box.

All of this is true but I know many of us remain antsy. So can we do more?
If you think things are dysfunctional at the federal level, you should try the state and local city councils. I think you’ll find the same.

When we are told we should get together with our friends and neighbors to pursue issues that we have in common and voice our concern, this is true. But often we don’t know our real neighbors. Because of this, our friends and neighbors have become our new virtual friends and neighbors in online communities and blogs. This separation makes it difficult to pursue collective action.

We mistakenly think that if we vote for the President of our choice all our ills will be cured when he gets into office. We also believe that he is the perfect embodiment and representative of all the issues that we are concerned about and he is taking the right stance on those issues.

So between now and November we watch only those political spots that support our candidate for president and we ignore the rest or we bash them in a self-gratifying way. We think of this election season like a horse race. Will our guy win? Place and show are irrelevant.

But our president and even our representatives are not the sole embodiment of all the issues that we agree with.

If you wanted to have a meeting with the President about an issue of utmost importance to you, the likelihood of that happening is almost nil. If on the other hand, you wanted to have a discussion with your Congressmen in your district about an issue that concerns you, the likelihood of having that meeting is considerably higher.

Since it is within Congress where legislation is formed, it is probably better for you to devote your time to get to know your elected representatives, your Congressman and your Senators. But going a step beyond that is also doubtless really good for your political well-being.

First, figure out what your top three or five issues are, what your position is and where you stand on these issues.

After all, it is all about issues. It is not about the personality or the charisma of the politician. Ultimately politics is about issues. In a democracy, issues are problems that get debated on and later get resolved through laws.

When a President issues an Executive Order he doesn’t consult with you or your Representative about what he wants to put into law. He just does it. [1]

So much for your presidential vote!

But to be even blunter, your vote for president is the popular vote and it doesn’t really count anyway. At least not the way you think.

The President is put into office by the Electoral College [2], not by you. Members of the Electoral College are selected and pledge allegiance to the presidential candidate of their choice, and they vote accordingly. So unless you are a delegate to the convention and an elector, you should probably focus on your district representatives with whom you have more influence.

But to come back to my earlier point; you don’t just call them up, write them, try to meet at their office or speak up at a Townhall meeting unless you know what you’re talking about. You don’t know what you’re talking about unless you have an understanding of key issues affecting you and your district.

So, look at the top five things that are causing you harm. List the five things that you think need to be changed. Delve into these issues and find out more. See which side of the issue you stand on.

Then you can actively participate in the political process, well beyond voting.

You don’t need to wait till November. You don’t need to keep silent for two years in a row, then vote and keep silent again for another two years.
You can find like-minded people now. You can clarify your thoughts and your message now. You can attain persistence of vision, pursue issue advocacy and help change things to improve your community, your state, and the country.

Voter turnout remains generally low. Political activism among the middle-class or silent majority (“non-special interests”) is even lower.

So it should come as no surprise that those who have a clear message, know their position, have enough grassroots community support and money to pursue their issue are the ones who get their legislation passed. And they do this quietly, persistently and they do this every day.

They also vote at election time. But they don’t let the election prevent them from taking action now.

So my message is this. Don’t focus on politicians or party. Focus on issues.
Don’t wait till November. Take action now. Don’t do this in isolation. Join with other people who believe in and support your issue. And finally, pool your strengths and resources and work with professionals to pursue your cause.

[1] Archives, National. (2012, March 20). Federal Register Executive Orders. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from Executive Orders Disposition Tables — Status of Executive Orders January 8, 1937 — Present

[2] Archives, National. (2012, July 11). Federal Register, What is the Electoral College? Retrieved July 11, 2012

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Founder, CEO iLobby & Author How to Change a Law, SWAY and The Political Game. Change policy and see around corners.

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