Sure, kids today still learn about the three branches of government, how a bill becomes a law, and who signed the Declaration of Independence, but when did classes in Government and U.S. History leave the business of developing citizens by the wayside?
I refer specifically to our societal inability to educate and engage our existing citizenry in the activities required for the survival of our democracy in any meaningful way. I point you no further than to our bleak turnout on Election Day – arguably the easiest contribution asked of any citizen. Yet, we still manage, on a national election day, to peak around 60% among eligible voters. Cut that in half when noting General Election stats in the State of California, and in the last Mayor’s race in my beloved hometown of Los Angeles, the numbers increased to 18% of eligible voters compared to the previous mayoral contest. In fact, less than 6% of registered voters were responsible for voting LA’s current mayor into office!
Beyond the classic “My vote doesn’t count,” or “Politics is corrupt anyway,” mantras of the disinterested, lies a reason to care. And the reason shouldn’t be that “things have gotten so bad.” We, as a society, if democracy is really the governing structure under which we hope to prosper, need to find our reasons to care before it’s too late.
Our task, as citizens, is to instill, in our youth and each other, a drive for social responsibility and government accountability, engendering a pride and duty of service likely to resonate for generations to come. Bring back a “civics” curriculum that educates our youth about our local systems and pressing issues, empowering them to get involved. A lack of civic engagement is often the result of a lack of civic understanding. Let us clear the path of obstacles for the disenfranchised, light the way for the disenchanted, and walk the walk for those that will follow in our footsteps.
Further reading: The Business of Government in Business
Neal Anderberg works with organizations, coordinating outreach efforts, strategizing partnerships, evaluating brand effectiveness, and advising on management and fundraising efficiency. He enjoys sharing knowledge and insight, but thrives on collaboration, and is passionate about helping others use their passion to make an impact. Check him out on LinkedIn.