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Why You Should Get Involved

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The debate about what kind of country we can and should be is not just a national debate. State, County and Township organizations touch your life in many important ways.

Why should you get involved? Here's why....

Township political organizations have a rich history in the United States. In his book about Thomas Jefferson "Twighlight at Monticello," author Alan Pell Crawford wrote about one example where activists in the northeast townships of the country led the most effective opposition to the Embargo Act which was passed - and eventually repealed - during Jefferson's second term as President.

Not only is local citizen participation key to the effective administration of local government - when enough Americans gather together on any issue, they can impact not only state policy but national policy as well.

The discussion of local citizen participation is as old as our Republic. After Jefferson retired from politics, he worried - in the words of Alan Pell Crawford - that -

"America was rapidly becoming a republic in name only. Power derived from the people, it was true, but they possess this power only on the days of their elections."

After election day, the power seemed to revert back to their "rulers."

Starting soon after the founding of the nation there was a power transfer from the local level to the states and from the states to the federal government. In Crawford's words, this transfer of power was "turning the ennobling challenges of self government into mere problems of administration."

Crawford continued:

"True self government, Jefferson believed, required the active participation of well informed citizens. Administration, by contrast, relied on a professional class of increasingly unaccountable government officials - and this makes all the difference in the world.

As this transfer of power took place, Jefferson believed that as ordinary people were denied the opportunity to run their own affairs their capacity to govern themselves would diminish and over time disappear.

The citizens would lose any attachment to their liberties and lack the will to resist their usurpation by ambitious men...

The inevitable result, Jefferson was convinced, was the moral corruption of the American people and in short order despotism on the European model. Fortunately, he believed there was a way to avoid this calamity. But it required the direct involvement of the people themselves, for they, he had decided, were the direct repository of the spirit of liberty.

Only when the people were fully engaged in securing their own liberties, Jefferson said, was government at the national and continental scale at all conceivable."

Instead of the ennobling challenges of self government creating a culture where citizens are engaged, Americans have too often shirked their responsibility and handed over their power. Now they must take it back. Voting on election day isn't enough, and never has been.