It’s More Than Just Your Vote — Why Citizen Advocacy Matters

by Chrysula on July 29, 2012 in children's health,empowering women and girls

I’ve lived in four democracies and one partial democracy in my life. As a child and teen I had a handful of opportunities to visit with elected officials. It always felt very special and rarified. As I got older and more cynical, the exercise felt less valid. And I stopped.

After a hiatus of more than 20 years since my last piece of citizen advocacy, I’ve had 3 visits with Senatorial staffers (1 Utah, 2 Connecticut) and 3 Congressional Representatives (Connecticut) and their staff in the last month. It’s been a transformational experience.

In each meeting, I watched as those around the table introduced themselves and their personal motivation for caring about the topic. Each made their case for caring, for acting and why it’s in our best State and National interests to do so — not to mention it being the right thing to do.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. Minds and hearts can be changed.
  2. Positions that seem poles apart can be brought closer together.
  3. It makes a difference when you write a letter.
  4. It makes a bigger difference when you show up in person.
  5. Elected representatives are just people.
  6. Many elected representatives are trying to do the right thing. Perhaps even most.
  7. Elected representatives rarely stop. They work long, long, long hours.
  8. The staff of elected representatives work even longer.
  9. Washington is full of incredibly smart people.
  10. We have a right to expect with all that brain power, they can govern more effectively.
  11. Citizen advocacy means speaking your heart, and bringing facts to back it up.
  12. You don’t have to know everything or be an expert on an issue to speak about your perspective.
  13. Positions that seem poles apart can be brought closer together.
  14. Minds and hearts can be changed.

Results CT Team

It will not be another 20 years before my elected representatives shake my hand and look me in the eye to account for their decisions and how they are spending our money. You can depend on that.

Have you ever visited your elected representative to advocate for something that really mattered to you? Share in the comments!

All images my own with the exception of the Results CT team, courtesy of N. Gardiner.

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