Letters to the Editor

Engaged citizens create successful democracy

Do we get the government we deserve?

Citizenship is not a spectator sport. For a democracy to succeed, its citizens must be involved. Voting is the fundamental right and responsibility of citizenship. Yet, citizens can choose not to vote. In addition, they can choose to be politically informed, engaged and active. Or, they can choose to complain, blame and disengage.

The citizens who vote are self-governing. They have a voice in having their values enacted into laws and policies. The citizens, who do not vote, give up this voice. Rather than being self-governing, they are being governed.

The current political environment can foster cynicism, anger and disengagement. However, becoming politically active or supporting a cause can be an antidote to this negativity. As citizens, we cannot control what elected officials say or do, but we can decide how we will respond to it.

My response is to be an active member of Bread for the World, a faith-based organization that urges our elected leaders to support funding for domestic and foreign assistance programs that protect the poor, the hungry and the vulnerable. In this frustrating political environment, this activism gives me a sense of control and purpose. I can act rather than react.

Since we can choose to be engaged citizens or not, do we get the government we deserve?

Steve Panther

Iowa City

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