Change Starts in Your Community

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Congress ended 2012 with a 15 percent average approval rating — its lowest yearly average in history, according to Gallup. Congress began 2013 with only a 14 percent approval rating. Perhaps not surprisingly, Congress is less liked than genocidal warlord Genghis Khan, cockroaches, and rock band Nickelback. (Statistics from HuffPost Politics)

We are clearly frustrated with Congress. Frustrated that the national debt is more than $16 trillion dollars and that Washington politicians seem to care more about pleasing special interests than the people they represent back home. The Tea Party and Occupy movements both reflect this sentiment, and they endeavored to make a radical change to the system.

Changing Congress or the White House is a monumental and worthy task to take on, but practically speaking it is difficult for those of us with day jobs. This does NOT mean we should become apathetic or give up on influencing policy. Rather, we can direct our time and talents toward making an impact on our spheres of influence.

Discover your sphere of influence:

  • What are your talents and abilities?
  • How much time do you have?
  • What issues do you care about?
  • Who can come alongside you? Friends, community organizations, advocacy organizations, policy groups, etc.
  • What level of government do you need to influence to make a change? This could be your school board, city council, state government, etc.

Jason Moore, a concerned citizen turned political influencer from Odessa, Texas, focused on his sphere of influence and made a big change in his state. Jason owns his own masonry building and has five children, but he was concerned with the education his children were receiving in public schools and the wasteful local government spending on a “Taj Majal”-style building.

He knew his sphere of influence and took action. Jason became a government watchdog and began doing his own investigative reporting, and eventually he created CitizenWatchdogs.com. He vigilantly attends city, county and school board meetings with his camera in hand to hold public officials accountable on how they are spending tax payer dollars. His recently educated the public on the large local debt in Texas ($322 billion) and the local bond initiatives that were on the November ballot.

If you can’t change city hall, then you can’t change Congress. Jason Moore

Besides becoming a citizen watchdogs, there are other ways to directly effect state and local policy.  One powerful tactic is to put an initiative on the ballot. Ballot initiatives can be filed by any citizen, at any time. They give you a way to propose laws directly and allow citizens to vote yes or no, without any politicians playing middle man (via Watchdog Wire).

There are many steps to getting an initiative on the ballot and successfully campaign for it. This free e-booklet by Leslie Graves breaks the process into 14 manageable steps:

You hold the power to change your local and state government if you take a good look at your sphere of influence and educate yourself on the political process.