Politics: You don’t have to get your hands dirty to get involved
Monday, April 6, 2015on
I hear it all the time when I tell people that I work in Public Policy. “Well, I don’t play that politics game,” or “It’s too complicated,” or “I have a family, a job, I’m involved in my church, and I don’t have time to get caught up in that.” The public perception of politics is that it’s an insider’s game that is impossible to navigate: the bills are hard to read, the proceedings on the House and Senate floors are chaotic, the legislative process is complicated, the committee hearings are dull and filled with political jargon, and, most of all, politics is a dirty game. Sound familiar? Chances are you've had these thoughts whether you are involved in public policy or not, and, they aren't all inaccurate. But let’s start with that last statement: Politics is a dirty game: The truth is, you don’t have to get your hands dirty, or play any kind of political game to get involved and make a difference. What’s the easiest way to do that? Focus on the policy issues, not the political issues. As a member of the business community, and even as a citizen, legislation is being written, voted on, and passed or killed every day that affects your livelihood and quality of life. Notice that I didn’t say you have a vested interest in all legislation. Engage in issues that you’re passionate about. If you don’t make your livelihood or spend your spare time hunting, you’re probably not real concerned about the Turkey hunting bill, H.3118, that’s sitting in conference committee. And that’s OK! But if you’re a small business owner that owns property, the Trespasser Responsibility Act that passed the House last month protects you from being held liable if a trespasser is hurt on your property. That’s a bill that affects you and your bottom line. By focusing on the issues, you don’t have to get involved in partisan squabbles or inflammatory rhetoric. So, (1) Find your issues. And, (2) Advocate for them. This can take two minutes. Pick up the phone, or write a short email letting your House members and Senators know what you want. Two minutes - it can be that simple to get involved. You can find your legislators by clicking here, and all of their office phone numbers and emails are listed online. If you want to go a step further, ask them to meet you for coffee or for a quick meeting in their office when they are in their home districts. You don’t have to be in Columbia to get your voice heard (but if you are, and happen to get a little dirt on you, you can always take the Governor’s advice). Mondays and Fridays are perfect days to meet with them when the Legislature is in session from January through June. Be honest and sincere with them on how legislation is going to affect you, no dirt, no games. As for the rest of those thoughts: Politics is an insider’s game that is impossible to navigate. This can be true, and that’s where we step in. We are your eyes and ears at the Statehouse, your voice, sorting through the politics to give you information on what bills will affect our community and how. We send out legislative updates every week that give you easy-to-understand commentary on what’s happening in Columbia, along with links to news articles that you might be interested in. If you aren’t getting our updates already, you can sign up for them by joining our grassroots list. If you are a member of one of our 13 Chambers of Commerce, you may contact us any time to discuss an issue and give us feedback. You can make a difference and get involved without getting in the political weeds. Let the politicians play the game, you be the referee.