VOICES: Time for silent majority to say ‘enough’ and engage

I am tired of all the discord in Washington politics. Are you? Are you like me, a member of the “Silent Majority” who feel they are too busy or seemingly unskilled to get involved to do anything about it? Well, I’ve gotten so frustrated that I am saying enough is enough and engaging. Venturing out of my comfort zone to write this op-ed is one example.

I have spent more time than usual researching the current candidates mostly by listening to You Tube speeches and podcasts. I prefer to hear them explain their views. I include candidates and issues I don’t agree with to be sure I understand various viewpoints. I often find areas of agreement and allows for a more reasoned discussion with those who support them. It changes the dialogue from one focused on exchanging the well-worn talking points to one focused on exchanging acceptable solutions.

Having pondered the benefits of standing up a third party, carved out of the middle of the political spectrum, as wishful thinking led me to an organization called No Labels. It’s a movement promoting bipartisanship in Congress. No Labels has identified 23 issues where common ground exists for the 63 House Members, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, of its Problem Solvers Caucus. For more information visit NoLabels.org.

What brought me to the brink of engagement? To name of few of the countless antics that at the end of the day result in nothing meaningful getting accomplished:

1. Blatant partisan calls for Special Counsels to investigate purported heinous acts providing nothing more than a stage for political speechifying.

2. The, now near-quarterly, melodrama over the budget negotiations to avoid shutting down the government.

3. Lemming-like party-line votes.

Based on what I see coming out of Congress, I do not believe we are getting our money’s worth. My broad-based estimate of what it costs annually to run the House and the Senate is $1.5 billion per year. That equates to $4 million dollars per day or $3,000 per minute. With two parties nearly equally divided and party-line votes gridlock ensues while expenditures keep flowing.

On the contrary, some would argue that these are smart tactics employed by the representatives at the behest of their constituents. That’s probably true enough for the most ardent, vocal supporters who actively engage in helping members get elected, a fitting definition for the Vocal Minority. These constituents are indeed very important voters to appease. But they shouldn’t be the only ones. Being a part of the Silent Majority, I must shoulder some blame.

So, instead of the dollars being wasted, the vitriol filling the airways, and the prospect of no end in sight making me mad, it’s made me engage. And, if you feel as I do, you can, too.

What are some ways to get involved?

1. Learn about the issues and the candidates, being aware of your biases.

2. Find out how to contact your representatives. Sending an email expressing your views can be quick and easy.

3. Vote in all elections especially primaries, so we get candidates that are more reflective of the majority.

4. And consider donating even a modest amount to individuals or causes you like.

Don’t get mad, get engaged.

Kathleen Carlson is a community volunteer. For over 40 years, she worked as a financial advisor for a firm she co-founded, Parker Carlson & Johnson and then for CAPTRUST, its successor organization.

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