If you're like me, you spent the past weekend indoors, awaiting the arrival of an ice storm that [thankfully] didn't materialize for most of the state. And, if you're like me, that also means you spent most of your time eating, sleeping, and catching up on your Netflix queue. Or, to put it more bluntly, you were inactive.
What happens to our body when we are physically inactive for too long? Nothing good, right? You get lazy, lethargic, fat, and flabby. You can't do all the things you used to. You start to see other things in your life slip, you feel uninspired, demoralized, and maybe even depressed. In some cases, you just give up and let the world pass you by.
I hate to break it to you, but the same thing happens when we become politically inactive. (Yes, I realize I'm making a connection between two things many people dislike: exercise and politics. But those are also two things we all know we need to be better about, right? Okay, so just hear me out...)
What happens when you are politically inactive for too long? Again, nothing good. When we stop caring about what happens in our government, when we tune out and "let ourselves go," things have a way of just...getting worse over time. Slowly, at first, but then one day you wake up and realize that we, as a state, can't do all the things we used to. You look around and see that everything has begun to slip - teachers losing jobs, health outcomes in the toilet, roads crumbling as you drive. Your state is near the bottom in all the measures that people care about when they're looking for a place to raise their families. You find yourself whispering "Oh my gosh...what is going on with this place?" after nearly every news story. You feel helpless, demoralized, and probably even depressed. Political inaction means that we stand by, complacent in our negligence, as our state buckles under the weight of failed policy. And as you stand there, you realize that you have two options: give up and let Oklahoma continue to crumble, or decide to get involved and do something about it.
LET'S GET ACTIVE
We must be shapers of events, not observers, for if we do not act, the moment will pass, and we will lose the best possibilities of our future. We face no imminent threat, but we do have an enemy. The enemy of our time is inaction.
Those words, spoken 20 years ago by President Bill Clinton in his fourth State of the Union address, have never been more true than they are today, for you and I, right here in the great state of Oklahoma. It's up to us to make the brave, bold decision to become active participants in our state government. It's up to us to stop complaining online and get out there and act like we give a damn.
I challenge you to do just that - to do what very few of your fellow Oklahomans ever do - to voice your thoughts and your opinion directly to your legislators. I bet you didn't realize that it often only takes a few phone calls or emails to legislators to make a difference. The thing is, if you're not talking to them, someone else is - and that someone else is probably lobbyists and special interest groups. But who is more "special" than you, the voters? No one, but the public doesn't have a lobbyist. We just have ourselves.
A DAY AT THE CAPITOL FOR REGULAR FOLKS
Over the next few months we are hosting several events to help you (and all the other regular folks out there) share your thoughts with the elected officials at the Capitol, and we'd love for you to join us. These events are designed for people who have never been to the state Capitol before so that you feel comfortable, prepared, and maybe even a little excited.
February 9th we're having an Info & Training Session where we will talk about the state budget, other issues, and what to expect at the Capitol Day & Capitol Crawl (see below). Details will be posted to the event pages on our Facebook & website.
February 15th is two events:
First, it's our first Capitol Day of the 2017 legislative session. We'll meet at the Capitol in room 412-A at 9am to hear from a few legislators about why hearing from constituents is important and recommendations for how to have a successful Capitol visit. After that, we'll break out and do visit our legislators' offices. (Pro tip: We recommend that you call ahead and schedule an appointment to meet with your legislators on that day so that you can be sure to catch them in the office.) More details can be found on our Facebook event page as well as the event page on our website, so check back often for updates!
Second, it's our first Capitol Crawl of 2017. Following the Capitol Day, we will convene in several local restaurants, coffeeshops, and bars just down the street from the Capitol to meet, greet, and visit with legislators in a more relaxed environment. We had seven legislators participate in our first Crawl in December, and we look forward to having more at each one this spring. Details will be posted to our Facebook & website soon!
CAN'T MAKE IT?
If you can't make it to these events, don't worry - we're going to repeat the same format every month of the legislative session (February-May) as well as several impromptu events, so you'll have many more chances. Subscribe to our Facebook events page and sign up for our email list and you'll never miss an invite! Remember - decisions are made by those who show up.
Also, regardless of whether or not you can make it up to the Capitol in person, you can always call and email your representatives. You can find out who your House & Senate members are here, and we have a full list of all members' contact info available here.
Remember, they can't represent you effectively if you don't talk to them. This is how we do it. This is how we fix this.