Who Is My Congressman?
Why it is important to have an interest in your Representative and in politics.
In the world of politics, there is a question that many Americans would have a difficult time answering without a quick trip to the internet: Who is my Congressman? For many people, their interest in politics extends only to the federal level. They vote once every four years for the President, but do not have much involvement at the state level. In fact, members of the House of Representatives do not always hear from those they represent, or they may only hear from certain demographics, but not as much from others. However, it is extremely important for them to hear from a wide variety of the citizens that they represent. Because of this, and because the opinion of each individual is unique and significant, it is important to have an interest in politics, to take a stand on positions, and to communicate those stances to a Congressman.
It is important, first of all, to understand how the system works in the United States of America. The Senate and the House of Representatives were set up to act as checks and balances to each other. In the Senate, two members from each state are elected via state legislature. This means that they are indirectly voted into office by the people. Senators serve a term of six years with one-third of the Senate being put up for election every two years. The members of the House of Representatives are voted into office by popular election for a term of two years, and are therefore more directly connected to the people. Each representative is responsible for a certain district in each state, which is separated out by population. The members of the House of Representatives have a strong incentive to make the people in their district happy, while Senators are more removed from individual people and groups. This balance works well as they are able to hold the other side accountable. In this model, it is often the congressman from a person’s district that is most easily contacted with individual viewpoints, and who will best represent a person’s beliefs.
Individuals often believe that their voice makes no difference in the scheme of things. This can cause a passivity that is harmful to a democracy. It is important for individuals to be involved in decisions because they have the closest proximity to many of the issues being discussed. A single representative cannot, as just one person, have access to all of the experiences that are necessary to make a wise decision. However, a combined force of people from all different walks of life with a broad spectrum of experiences is a powerful force that can be used to make the best decision possible on any given issue. It is also important for individuals to have involvement in current issues because it helps to equalize citizens and those in government. It is crucial to have checks and balances in place for both parties. Democracies work so well because the citizens are able to hold those in government accountable, and in turn the representatives are able to protect citizens against the tyranny of the masses by shouldering a lot of the decision-making responsibility.
There are a lot of effective ways that citizens can have involvement in the political process. The most obvious of these is to vote at each election. However there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes before an election takes place. For example, individual participation in primaries or in caucuses can have a lot of influence on who the nominees for a presidency will be. Another way to be involved is through local groups, clubs, and organizations. Such groups, even though they are not political at their base, can have a strong impact on political decisions based on their collective influence. Citizens can also directly contact their district’s representative and expect to hear a reply. Congressmen have said that they and their staff members especially appreciate notes that are highly personalized with stories of the citizens’ experiences. Many times, the Congressman of a district seeks to spend as much time responding to those they represent as the sender took in writing to them. This is a highly effective way of being involved as they are very motivated to represent their district.
The introduction of the internet has changed, or rather expanded, the ways in which people can get involved. It is now easier to research information and become informed on all of the current issues of the day. It is also more possible to reach out to friends and family in order to dialogue with them about politics. Many optimists view this new technology as a sign that American involvement in politics will increase. However, there is a downside to the internet in that a lot of information is biased or false. One of the best ways to simultaneously gain education on the current issues and bills and reach out to a Congressman is to get a profile on 4US.com. The mission of 4US.com is to present the absolute facts, without bias, on all of the current bills and events so that those who use the site can form educated opinions. It also has profiles for each of the country’s representatives which allows users to see how their Congressman is voting for each issue. There are then direct ways to contact them, give him or her approval ratings, and “vote” on the issues. The site is a wonderful way to have political involvement through the sphere of the internet.
Becoming knowledgeable about current politics and taking an active part in the process is an extremely important part of keeping a democracy alive and thriving. There are many ways to become involved, and one of the best ways is to know who your Congressman is and to contact them regarding your views. All of society benefits when everyone takes an interest in their community and in what is happening around the country. Each individual’s story and experience is important, and vital to a healthy country.