“We the People of the United States….”
-Preamble, US Constitution

“…[G]overnment of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
-Abraham Lincoln

I’ve been seeing a lot of folks in my Facebook newsfeed bemoaning, “the government.”

“Government is wasteful,” the argument goes.

“It’s inefficient,” it continues.

“It is a monopoly with no incentive to be innovative,” the argument often concludes.

Some of you might be nodding your head in agreement with this argument and, I’ll admit, when I worked for the government I could always get a new pen from the supply room when I needed one.

But humor me as I provide a brief civics lesson. The United States is a republic. A republic is a form of government in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives.

To put it in other words, the government is YOU and the people you then elect to represent your interests. I would hope that when it comes time to make decisions about what the role of government should be (including things like what taxes should be collected, how tax revenue should be spent, and what kinds of tasks we expect government to perform), we could have faith that the people we’ve elected have the information they need to make the best decision possible.

Now, let me tell you what this post is not. It is not a defense of the government as it currently functions. There is too much money in politics, and corporate personhood has eroded the meaning and significance of the rights granted all persons by the U.S. and state Constitutions.

Let me now be clear about what this post is. It is a call to action! If the government is YOU and you sit around criticizing the government, you should start your criticism by mocking your reflection in the mirror. Because, if you want the government to better reflect your values and if you want elected leaders to better respond to your needs and wants, then you need to stop complaining on social media and start getting involved in selecting the people who will represent you and make those important decisions about the role of government.

And you’re in luck, because the process of selecting our elected leaders starts anew on February 25, 2020. The GOP and DFL will be hosting their precinct caucuses, and it is from there that all party-related decisions flow, including who will bear a party’s endorsement on the general election ballot. If you want a say in who that person will be, then attend your caucus and become a convention delegate. After all, there’s more to elections than who is or is not running for president.

Maybe you think the party you’re most closely aligned with is off-base on a particular issue. Then offer a Resolution on Caucus Night and try to recruit people to support it and/or offer it themselves. If your resolution or issue has a critical mass of support, it could become part of your party’s platform, which is basically a document that states what a party’s values are.

Maybe you begrudge the two-party system and thirst for additional options. Well then ask the people who knock on your door how their candidate feels about making it easier to have third-party candidates on the ballot, or what they would do to reverse the judicial precedents that weigh heavily in favor of promoting the two-party system. Ask what the candidate is going to do to get money out of politics to level the playing field so that average citizens can run for office, and not just those who are wealthy or have time to sit and make fundraising phone calls.

You can also ask the candidates themselves! Go to a candidate forum or attend a meet-and-greet and hear straight from the candidate’s mouth what their opinions are on the issues that matter to you.

But, above everything, vote in the general election. We are empowered through voting to choose who will represent us and decide what the role of government should be.

Because, in case you forgot, the government is YOU. You hold the supreme power of the state. Either be involved in exercising the power of government or hush.

Author: Rachel Nelson