What can every adult in America be on the first Tuesday in November? We can all be voters except those of us who have been convicted of certain crimes and who live in states that enforce felony disenfranchisement. The right of the populace to vote has not always been guaranteed. For the first three quarters of a century of this young nation’s life, only white, male land owners could vote. That excluded over 85 percent of the citizenry from participating in the democratic process. Only the efforts and sacrifices of early civil rights leaders made the right to vote a right for all Americans.
While growing up, I had many adults tell me “If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain about how things are in this country”. I don’t think a lack of a voting history stops many people from complaining especially when those complaints pertain to politics. That leads me to the question “If you’re unhappy with the political landscape, why don’t you exercise your powers to change it?” Aside from revolt, the only powers the people have to affect change in this country are their voices and their votes.
In our Constitutional Republic, the representatives we elect carry our intentions, or votes, to their assemblies, either at the local, state or federal level, where they cast these votes in order to do the will of the people for whom they work. If our elected representatives do not represent the will of the people, but instead, corrupt the vote for personal gain or for the benefit of a minority special interest group, then those “representatives” must be replaced either immediately by recall or during the next election cycle. This is how our government remains “Of the people, by the people and for the people” in the words of President Lincoln and not “At the people, to the people and on the people” in my own words.
To ensure our elected “representatives” remain representative, first – they must be held accountable. Accountability requires supervision or “oversight”. Second – they must be able to relate to those they represent; not as overlords, but as members of the constituent cohort; as ones who suffer or benefit from the quality and weight of the government they create. How does a populace maintain accountability and camaraderie among those elected to represent it? They vote to elect those who hold their views, beliefs, morals and ethics.
To that end, I came up with the acronym VOTER – “Vigilant Oversight Through Exercised Rights”. I also took out a small loan and started a political action campaign called “Give Congress the Bird” (double entendre intended). I established a website and a Facebook page for my little project. I thought if a guy like me could get the attention of my elected officials, then maybe others would get involved in the oversight of their elected officials as well. In a nutshell – the aim of Give Congress the Bird is to bring Congress (including the Senate) down to earth; closer to us whom they represent. “The Bird” is military vernacular for a Colonel, or O-6 on the military pay scale. Putting the U.S. Congress and Senate on the O-6 military pay scale with military medical, vacation, allowances and retirement would make them much more mortal – like us. They might even begin to “represent” us. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Anything is possible when you become a VOTER.
© 2015 Curt Savage Media