Keep the Momentum Going After DNC and RNC
Learn more about Obama and Romney's take on the issues before Nov. 6
In an election year, time flies. One moment you’re in primary season, before you know it, the election is here. But in a presidential election year, time flies even faster, it seems. This cycle has been no different. The Republican and Democratic National Conventions are over and yet many of us are still feeling the excitement. Many of my recent conversations have started with, “Did you go to the conventions? What did you think?” Because time seems to be on fast forward, people are using what happened at the convention to guess what will happen in the election.
What I've noticed is that your average, everyday citizen, Joe Q. Public, is mesmerized by big moments like conventions or speeches. Most of us don't get wrapped up in the day-to-day political muck and mire. It's almost as if when politicians speak, outside of at big events like the DNC and RNC, we hear them in a way that is reminiscent of how adults sounded to Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang.
There's always an exception to the rule and in the world of politics, there are two exceptions—scandal and tragedy. If a politician gets caught in bed with anyone other than his or her partner, if they have a child out of wedlock, if they fall ill with some incurable disease, they receive attention. But let them make a statement about how they plan (or don't plan) to address important topics like education, and it falls on deaf ears.
Somehow, there's a tragedy in that. The fact that most people are not paying attention is a problem. When you have people who don't know who their Congressional representative or their State Senator are, it speaks to why they can’t find solutions to community issues. I have had experiences with people who tell me that they want to talk to their Congressman about things like a reduced trash pick schedule when they should be talking to their mayor or city council members. It's this disconnect from civic engagement that keeps communities and specifically the black community from achieving our goals.
So the convention was great. There was lots of energy, many great speeches and a ton of private events. But after the convention stage lights have dimmed, when all of the confetti has been swept up and the last of the convention planners is at home relaxing, will we still be energized? Will we still care about who our politicians are or what they have to say? Or will it take a scandal or tragedy to wake up & pay attention. We must realize that laws are being created that disenfranchise us, that marginalize us and that keep our communities from reaching our full potential. And there are also laws that benefit us, that provide us with more opportunities and give us more hope for the future. But many people are shielded from those things by their own volition.
If the only time we pay attention to the issues is when the lights are hot, during conventions and debates, we're missing the point of civic engagement. I understand we're all pressed for time, many of us work two jobs to make it. But conventional wisdom tells us the devil is in the details. Being impressed that someone has a nice looking family or that they came to your church shouldn't be a reason to vote for them. You have to vote on the issues that will affect your life. Even if you pick just one or two issues that are critically important to you and your family and look at how the candidates stack up on those issues, you will be more prepared for Nov. 6 than you will I all you do is watch a convention, a speech or a debate. You still have a month and a half left to dig a little more, to do your homework and get into what really matters.