This entire election has been somewhat surreal for me because of its historic nature and my unprecedented engagement. Through the hard fought primary and the final election victory, I have been totally consumed. My husband called me out on my veritable obsession with this campaign. I agreed with him as I became a political junkie extraordinaire. When I introduced him to my designer drugs (constant flow of news), and the very pragmatic way I get my “candy”, he joined me in my addiction. Now he daily checks: tnr.com, theatlantic.com, huffingtonpost.com, cnn.com, politico.com, theroot.com, time.com, americanprospect.com, nytimes.com, and many more news sources just as I do. Often, he is more up to date on the news than I am now.
Even though we took responsibility for being informed about the issues, donating to the campaign, and spreading information to those in our circle, I desired to be involved in a more direct way. Now that the election is over my mind is buzzing with questions. How can I get more involved in the Democratic party? How will a President Obama use the online and grassroots networks he has created?
During the campaign, Senator Obama promised to reward young people for service to their country and communities. Presently, I am deeply involved in my community through volunteering, but I want to help others get involved. Most importantly I want this wave of participation to be more than just a short lived bandwagon. These segments of the population that turned out in vast numbers to vote need to be actively engaged and involved. I didn’t understand why the pundits talked about the electorate as if we were a bunch of ignoramuses with no attention span. While this was not true, I did realize that a great percentage folks didn’t know the issues and were relying on e-mail forwards and second-hand sound bites for information. Given all the calls on the American voters’ time and attention many didn’t have the time or understood the importance of allocating time to piece the facts together. This cannot be the order of the day going forward. We need a revival of responsible citizenship, an acknowledgment that our lives depend on knowing the issues and realizing the power of our voice and contribution.
I want to hear from you out there. What is the best way to get folks engaged? Should we rely on our new President to rally us together? What are your ideas? What are you doing or have done in this effort?