I’ve always felt a little late to the “politics and civics” game as I didn’t really take away much usable knowledge from my elementary school career and I got pregnant right out of high school. Fun Fact: It’s hard to pay attention to the world around you when you’re trying to raise a tiny human, get a college degree, and pay the bills. The Clinton/Lewinski scandal and fallout is just a blip in the background of my memory of a very challenging chunk of time in my life.
They first election I guess I voted in was Gore/Bush and I was unhappy my guy lost, but I didn’t really keep up with much else. 9/11 occurred just a few months after I graduated college and got a “real” job – giving me much more practical peace of mind allowing me to explore current events and politics a little more. I guess that’s where my “learning” started. I was more involved in the Kerry/Bush election but I’m not entirely sure I really started to understand our Executive and Legislative branches until the 2008 election.
Let me break it down for you: I think maybe that was the first year I really understood the whole Senators/Congressmen thing. Like who represented me and the power they had at the Federal level.
(This level of honesty is difficult because y’all – THAT IS SO SAD.)
Since 2008 I’ve definitely been learning a lot about what’s going on at the federal level. I keep up with legislation and learned how much a bill can change as it works it’s way through committees and negotiations. I find that the most depressing part of all of this. It’s hard to 100% support something no matter WHO you are because if it actually passes (meaning it had to have at least a tiny bit of support from the opposition) then it has amendments tacked on to it that go against the wishes of the party pushing the legislation. So, depending on what side you’re on, you either find a bill you supported become tainted, or you suddenly find yourself wanting to support a bill you hate. It’s never as easy as, “Senator X voted against Veteran’s Assistance!” because there might have been a tax added to that bill that would have angered his constituents or there might have been an amendment that took away freedoms he vowed to protect or SOMETHING. I became very jaded the more and more I learned about how legislation actually got passed.
2017 – however – is the year I learn about state/local politics. Did you know we have state-level senators and representatives too? I DID NOT! I AM DUMB! Well, now I do. I’ve actually spent time digging into maps to find the ones that represent me only to find out the MAPS LIED and I was wrong. I finally got my new voter ID card and now I officially know my districts so I can find my state senator/representative. I went to a delegate forum the other night and met many of them from this area. I took Nikki too, in hopes that maybe she’ll learn to understand this at a younger age than I did.
I have registered at this site to monitor legislation in my state. I have built email lists of committee members. I following lobbying groups who are taking citizens to events at the capital. At age 41 I finally have an understanding of how legislation works in my state and THAT IS SUPER SAD.
I’m just letting you know that it’s never too late to learn. It’s never too late to get involved. It’s never too late to start attending legislative forums and lobbying Town Halls. Don’t be scared! Find issues that matter and find the big lobbying groups for those issues and get on their email lists and follow their Facebook pages. Human Rights Campaign has an Alabama office that is currently fighting against legislation allowing for discrimination of LGBTQ parents for foster/adoption and I post actions regularly on my Facebook page. I think our outrage helped stall the House version of the bill, but the Senate one is still on the move and we’re hoping today’s calls/emails will stall that one.
At 41 I’m finally getting involved at every level that I can. It’s never too late.