A better 'state' of affairs
by Emily Gallagher
Feb 08, 2017 | 1602 views | 0 0 comments | 151 151 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In the last few weeks, I have noticed myself and my friends becoming more and more aware of our own government and the true vigilance it takes to be a proponent of democracy.

Everyday, calls to action fill my inbox, my Facebook feed and my Twitter. Suddenly everyone is paying attention to bills, laws, and who is undecided. I think this is great.

To be honest, I can't remember anyone teaching me to pay attention to the daily tasks of government beyond passive news consumption.

If you became passionate in a cause or an issue, you might take on the mantel of paying close attention and calling every day, but certainly not in the way we are doing now.

Adjusting to being a vigilant member of a democracy is overwhelming at first, but it has certainly helped to feel like so many of us are doing it together.

It used to be that a friend would ask us all to call a senator and maybe one person would do it. Now it's more of a team sport that you have to do in fits and spurts throughout the day every day.

It's made me notice how little I paid attention to what happens. I was brought up to be lazy about this stuff.

Besides a general conversation or frustration, there was very little actual action that was taught about these specific bills or appointments at the federal level, especially because I personally have always been more interested in local level.

Learning what to watch and how to watch it has been revealing.

As a person with local government interests, I have to say that this has made me take a closer look at Albany. As you know, I have been passionate about the plastic bag ban and it's potential for really helping our environment in a variety of ways.

It's been quite illuminating to watch how the proposed moratorium on it is moving through Albany.

Of course, in the news lately has been attention on how Queens legislator Jose Peralta has joined a group of Democrats who caucus with Republicans.

I was heartened to hear about the line that wrapped around the block to greet him with rage when he returned to visit his constituency upon doing this.

I think with as much attention as we are paying to the federal, we need to be vigilant with the state as well. Things are just as scrambled there, and if you are interested in providing a buffer to potential federal problems we are going to need to get this sorted out.

It's not just the Democrats who are caucusing with Republicans that can misrepresent their constituency. Many of the Democrats are doing things that a majority of their constituency might disagree with, but the extremely vocal ones vouch for.

I invite you to watch what's happening at the state level and get your friends to call their state representatives as much as possible. I've been told by state reps that this is the best way to give them ammunition.

Let's make sure our voice is being heard in the state, and that the policies being proposed there reflect our own needs and desires as well. If someone votes against your wishes, call them and tell them. If someone votes for your wishes, thank them.

The state has the power to protect us. Let's clean it up.
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