What is my job as a citizen?

I’m struggling.

I want to toss some thoughts out because I’m not sure what a citizen’s role really is in the US anymore. I’m curious what people here think.

Until recently, I thought that my primary role in the running of our country was to communicate and understand what my elected officials were doing. Those who communicated effectively with me and who made decisions I either agreed with (or at least understood the logic behind) were to be rewarded with my vote. Those who were less effective in those tasks I’d vote to replace. That’s what I understood in my civics class back at Oxon Hill High School.

Maybe high school civics from the 70’s doesn’t really apply anymore.

A few years back, I resolved never to speak again on two things – faith and politics. It seemed to me that there was no longer the convention that folks could talk about these things, disagree, and move on as if they’d spoken about nothing of more consequence than the weather.

All the same, I slip up on that resolution sometimes.

Whats the point? Were not changing each others minds

What's the point? We're not changing each others minds

It has come to the point that when people discuss those topics, the goal is very often to bring the other person to the opposite side, or berate them as a fool, or worse.

I think it would be easy to label this as a “conservative” behavior. That is certainly the classification of folks who’ve practiced this sort of “persuasion” on me, but that may be a function of being one of the less conservative people in my work place. My refusal to give in to that sort of persuasion got me called the most vile thing people of a conservative bent could ever come up with to label another person – a liberal.

As narrow minded as the person who called me that was, if a liberal was the opposite of him, I damn sure wanted to be one.

Anyhow, despite my experience, I’d guess some similar conversations go in the other direction – folks who could be labeled liberal, trying to win over folks labeled conservative.

The reality is, I’m really kind of ticked off when people try to affect my basic ideas on life. My political leanings and my religious affiliations were developed based on what I’ve seen through life. I’m confident in my ideas and beliefs. I’m willing to learn, I’m willing to adjust positions, but that happens quietly, through my own information gathering.

If I feel that way, doesn’t someone on the opposite end of the spectrum feel similarly? I think it isn’t right for me to expect my opinions to be respected, but not to give the same respect.

Here is the kicker, for me. Who drops off the radar when we’re so busy trying to convince one another that, for instance, health care is good or bad? The elected officials. We’re their bosses. Shouldn’t everyone’s effort, no matter their affiliation, be directed (respectfully) toward the people we hired? How’d they get us focused on one another?

Speaking of economic damage - these folks have my sons college fund. I cant bear to look at a statement. Would one of you wake me when things are better?

Speaking of economic damage - these folks have my son's college fund. I can't bear to look at a statement. Would one of you wake me when things are better?

Those people we hired were given their jobs because we thought they’d look after us. They will be the ones who decide when kids come home from the war and what will be done to repair the economic damage our country has suffered.

The thing is, I don’t think many of us (least of all, me) are supervising and directing our employees. We’re too busy yelling at each other. When I’m busy trying to convince my neighbors and that clown in the next cubicle listening to Limbaugh that the way I think is right, I’m not watching my senator. I’m not doing my job.

One of the things I like about this blog, is that it allows us all to put the information out there about how we see things for folks who disagree to see. Maybe they fall by and see something that makes a light bulb go on for them. Perhaps I wander the net and absorb something that makes me think.

Doing things like that are, I think, part of the new citizen involvement piece of democracy that Mr. Buckley and Mr. Cowan never could have envisioned in the years they had me back at Oxon Hill High.

All in all though, Buckley and Cowan both told me that my job was to hold the people I elected accountable. They never mentioned me going out and evangelizing folks from the opposition.

So I guess my question is, what is my job? Am I the supervisor for the people I hired to mind the store? Or am I an evangelist for a philosophy whose task is to beat the bushes for converts to the causes I believe in?

The Ship Always Sails.

Our school motto:The Ship Always Sails. I have no idea what that had to do with my education.



Filed under Thinking/Considering, Uncategorized

39 responses to “What is my job as a citizen?

  1. Oma, Oma, Oma, “evangelist for a philosophy” don’t hear that everyday 🙂 . My favorite saying is “Intelligence isn’t measured by the things you know but by the questions you ask”.
    I love a good debate and feel somewhat let down if everyone agrees. I can swing like a pendulum from agreeing to disagreeing but I guess that is my personality. I use the information that is raised, to sometimes add to my argument, sometimes to strengthen it, sometimes to change it and sometimes to re-evaluate it. When you close your mind off to all possibilities, solutions, resolutions and opinions you have lost what it is to be human. Geez, imagine if we didn’t open our minds to all possibilities, Snuggie blankets would be just a stupid blanket with sleeves!
    Psst: I noticed Oma you didn’t bring up the Mongolian Death Worm in this post….chicken?

    • See, that’s the thing, some people don’t reevaluate. It is seen as a weakness if they do.

      You want debate, you’ve got it – A snuggie is a bathrobe turned backward, not a blanket with sleeves.

      • Damn you Oma and your conservative ways. It ain’t a bathrobe for starters. Geez and here I was thinking we were going to have some meaningful debate. Beginner! 🙂 Now begone, before I reload blahahhahahahhahahahhaha!

  2. jammer5

    Honest discourse in this country has gone the way of the dinosaur. Yer either fer or agin. Black and white. Polite debate has become 5 year old, sugar bloated, temper tantrums. Part of that is due to the talk show political pundits, whose unwavering worship of ratings and their almighty dollar disallow honest discussions of the ‘other’ side. For instance Beck and his Obama is a racist comments, or Limbaugh and his Nazi comparisons. Take Palin, who stated in her quitters speech that her kids were off limits and to quit making things up. Then uses her kid in made up nonsense about ‘death panels’ and how her kid would have to face one.

    How can one debate an issue with rhetoric like that? I don’t see it changing either. There is a hatred crawling up the backside of this country, and it can do no good whatsoever. It seems to be getting worse, and at this rate, this country is going to go through a major change, and it might be feed by anarchy.

    It’s going to take a man or woman with a shape changing personality, like JFK, to bring us back from the brink. I don’t see one out there yet. I’m afraid Obama’s not up to that job. My feelings are the president needs to pull back from health care reform, straighten out the financial regulations nightmare, then come out with a simple, easy to understand health reform package. There’s a lesson to be learned here, and I’m afraid both sides are missing it.

    • “It’s going to take a man or woman with a shape changing personality, like JFK, to bring us back from the brink.”

      I disagree. I think if President Kennedy has completed his term, and especially if he had done it under the glare of today’s instant communication in all forms, we wouldn’t have the same history of him.

      I think President Obama can change enough to bring us back from the brink. What I know for sure is that I won’t judge him after six months of duty addressing some of this centuries biggest challenges.

  3. VOTE!

    I’ll never understand voter apathy. Voting has always been (to me) my right and my responsibility and I take both seriously. What’s the numbers on how many Americans actually vote? I’ll bet it’s smaller than those who complain!

    Your post reminds me of what a man said during his inaugural address January 20, 1961 —

    “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

    • Ah Fnord, it is compulsory to vote in the land of OZ (Australia that is). Big old fine if you don’t. You can imagine the empty aired promises both sides guarantee and never deliver.

  4. Don’t you think our elected officials count on the fact that we’re not paying attention? I don’t think this is new, but today we can keep tabs on them more easily and they won’t be able to count on anonymity. Communication is instant and available in so many forms there are fewer excuses for not knowing, for not holding them accountable. In fact maybe the reason the news seems full of the shenanigans of politicians is because there is a camera in most hands, 24-hour news channels that have to fill air time, blogs, tweets and email.

    Maybe we each need to commit to doing a little better at being what Oma called the, “new citizen involvement piece of democracy.” I like that!

  5. tosmarttobegop

    Dad was not shy about giving me advise, one piece was never talk about Politics or Religion with other people. He did say I should make up my own mind about such things. Both tends to have the same downfalls, if you are 100 % sure you are right. There is no room for any evidence that you are not right.

    I can understand “voter apathy” better now since becoming more aware of Politics. The overwhelming feeling after a while is either to throw your hands up or fill your hand with a weapon. You envy those clue-less of what it happening and wish for the days when your greatest thoughts were what color of shirt you wanted. Voter apathy becomes the middle solution between standing in horror and watching the bus going over the cliff. Or grabbing a gun and shooting the demented bus driver so the bus stops.

  6. tosmarttobegop

    It is Tiahrt’s most damnable trait, the man can speak so well that you hear what you want to hear.
    I kid you not I saw him go from being totally against illegal aliens when a person asked a question that was anti aliens. Then the next question was pro alien and he went on in support of illegal aliens! So smooth it took an hour after I left to realize his change in mid stream.

    We as a practice do not depend on what our Politicians say, it is more the difference in whether they say sweet-heart or Dumb-ass in their addressing.

  7. I do have to wonder if the ugliness is really growing, or just is more able to be heard in this more media intense environment. I keep telling myself that the most sensational positions get the attention, but who knows?

    Them counting on us not watching them isn’t new, but I still am awed that we so easily have been turned on one another.

    • Usually both anger and hate have their start in lack of understanding and/or fear. Once we figure something out we’re not as apt to be afraid or angry.

      Boy you’re right there — the sides have been chosen and we have turned on one another. When together is the only way we’re actually going to bring about accountability, good governance, a clear path for the elected official to follow. But as you stated somewhere else it is seen as a weakness to reevaluate.

      We’re biting off our noses to spite our faces!

      But this tiny group can decide to change, we can decide to be better citizens. Even if we don’t rub off on others we’ll be setting a good example for our children and feel better about the person we see in the mirror.

  8. PrairiePond

    I used to have a live and let live attitude about religion and differing political philosophies.

    But all that changed for me in February of 05, when I lost my job for not keeping quiet about who I am.

    It turned to white hot rage in April of 05 when almost eighty percent of this county and over seventy percent of this state voted to keep me and mine in the back of the bus. I got the message loud and clear.

    Yeah, I know, you can lecture me all you want about how destructive rage can be. Get back to me when YOUR marriage is put up for a vote.

    Until then? Faith and religion are my mortal enemies. As are the conservatives who have used me and mine to further their own gain while keeping a foot on the back of our necks.

    It might just be an idle discussion for some, but it is life and death for us.


    So pardon me if I dont behave like I’m at some civilized tea party. When YOU have the mob of conservatives and churchies come after your job, your life, your marriage, get back to me about “civility”.

    • Hey Prairie Pond , you might want to stay away from the tarot card reader at Ocean City 🙂 .
      Hmm, so I guess Anita Bryant is off the Christmas card list? Just watched Milk on the Weekend. Wow, how great was Sean Penn.
      Geez, I went to a Holy Communion function last week…don’t get me started on how judgmental so called Christians are. Hey Prairie Pond, it ain’t just gay people…I was the only (non practicing) Anglican in the village, that was bad enough! I am dating one of their brothers and they don’t like it one little bit…hmm, oh and the whole “Friggin Loon” thing goes down like a cup of cold sick too…blahahahahahahahahhaha. They think I am leading him astray….hell yeah 🙂 . I guess asking, if the man on the wall was a portrait of their grandfather, didn’t help. How the hell was I too know that was Jesus! My bad?


    • Agreed. Small mindedness and bigotry are the enemies. And the conservatives have used your marriage as an issue to mobilize the small minded population to their benefit. I’m not directly victimized by that, but it is shameful and sad.

      I’m not saying not to fight, I’m wondering if we citizens are fighting the right fight?

      For example, people disrupting the process in the health care debate are getting the attention right now. Is my energy better spent letting my elected officials know I support them standing up to that sort of thing and will back that with my vote, or by going and trying to shout down people who are, by choice, deaf?

      • I came to the same conclusion, Oma, and last week I called my Rep’s office. Now bear in mind Kansas is a deeply red state and Rep. Tiahrt won because he is anti-abortion and pushes all those other ‘family values’ religious right policies, down to rewrite the Constitution so it more closely resembles the Bible. He also isn’t very smart or even very effective — at anything!

        The woman who answers the phone says right off the bat that one thing we can all agree on is that health-care reform is needed. I knew she said this only because that was what I told her was the reason for my call. She assures me Tiahrt understands as he also has a family and the same concerns. I said, fine, I’d take his health-care coverage at the same costs he pays and with the same amount of tax money subsidies. Oh no, she assured me (she hadn’t even heard what I said!) Tiahrt would protect against my taxes increasing! So I talked to her calmly and hung up knowing she had remained deaf and didn’t have any idea of what she promised me would be shared with Tiahrt.

        So, I sent him an email.

        Now, there are lots of people who are able to communicate better than I do but I can get my point across to someone willing to listen. But when they’ve decided to remain deaf, there are no communication skills that will make them hear.

  9. Good morning PrairePond! I miss it when you’re not around, and we need to hear all perspectives if we expect to be informed.

    OK, you’re right, I can’t know as well as you. I can look back on the hoops I’ve had to jump through as a woman and kinda see what it’s like to be held to a different and higher standard. And, I can honestly tell you I want what you want — equal (NOT special!) protections under the laws of our land. I know how full of hate and ignorance that vote in Kansas was even if it wasn’t my marriage being voted on. But I’m not in your shoes so you do know better than I ever will what it’s like to walk that mile.

    You have helped me learn! You have helped me see what I ignored. Yes, it didn’t affect me and I ignored it. So you are as Oma said in this post, “an evangelist for a philosophy whose task is to beat the bushes for converts.” And each convert becomes another to beat the bushes for more converts. Not fast enough, and I admit it should never have even been a question, but you are helping others to understand and lose the fear that is expressed as hate and anger.

  10. PrairiePond

    Hey fnord! Loon! Sorry, I had company there for awhile. I’ve been feeling poorly as they say, and one of my pals came over to take care of the chickens.

    She killed a rattler that had made a nest IN FRONT of the chickenhouse door!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I hadnt been out there for a couple of days but she thinks the snake had been there for some time. Hell, I probably walked right over it and it stayed quiet. It’s gone now, but YIKES! I hate snakes of all kinds, much less a rattler.

    She also thinks maybe the snake was the reason I lost so many chickens this summer. I’m down to only about ten. They could have gotten bitten and then the snake crawled off.

    Anytime you have chickens, you have mice, and mice draw snakes. Ah, life on the prairie.

    Thanks for your kind words, fnord and loon. Of course you all are not the problem. You do pretty well walking in my shoes.

    I am increasingly distressed at the thought of a governator brownback. And the damn kansas democrats cant even field a candidate.

    Louann and I agreed today that things are just going to get worse for us in Kansas. While the rest of the nation, (like IOWA for god’s sake) comes to its senses, kansas scoots further back into the dark ages.

    • It’s beyond my imagination what Brownback can do as governor. He will be supported by right-wing nutjobs in the state Senators and Representatives. Kansas prospects aren’t lookin’ up. And he has no opposition in a race that is not that far away. Shoot, I’d vote for one of his ‘snowflake’ babies over him!

    • wicked

      Will Brownback have a special place to hold his self-torture devices? Sorry, but having a religious whackjob in the governor’s seat is not my idea of intelligence.

    • Thank god we don’t have rattlers in OZ, we have every friggin thing else 🙂 . I have one chook called Gretel and a bantam named BamBam and two Peking ducks Sweet and Sour. There is absolutely no reason to have them but I do. The bantam is forever kung fu kicking me. Sometimes they are better company than the human kind…plus you can always eat them if they misbehave!!! Kidding!

      • tosmarttobegop

        I don’t know loon, I think I would rather have the rattler then the Browns in OZ.
        At least our snake gives a warning most of the time.

  11. PrairiePond

    And fnord, I agree about the status of women. All this stuff is fresh in my mind today. One of my tasks at the newspaper is to mine the old issues for the 25-15 and 5 year news columns. Um, yeah. We live in the past out here.

    Anyway, yesterday I had to go through the five year papers that chronicled the beginning of the witch hunt that ended with me losing my job. I had forgotten a lot of it. Maybe buried it would be a more correct term.

    I was humbled all over again by the outpouring of support from folks in the community. There were five letters to the editor supporting me in just one issue. And still, they wiped out the entire economic development program just to get to me.

    And the community has paid for it. My marketing plan was abandoned, and the e.d. office has gotten NO grants in the five years I’ve been gone. They’ve been through two directors.

    Fnord, I copied down a poem one of the ladies in town wrote for me and put in the paper. She was about 85 at the time. It’s great, and I was going to post it here, but then I forgot it at the office. I’ll try to publish it here Monday night.

    It’s refrain is: “An aggressive man is called a go-getter, but an aggressive woman is a bitch”.

    heheh. HAHAHAHA. You’ll love it.

    And even with all that community support, it’s just a wound that wont heal with me.

    Maybe if I stopped licking it? 🙂

    • wicked

      “An aggressive man is called a go-getter, but an aggressive woman is a bitch”.

      Ain’t it the truth?

  12. PrairiePond

    This relates to the topic of this thread, because the citizenry overwhelmingly supported my board, and me. The articles in the paper reminded me that over 200 people turned out at three different public meetings to support me. They passed an economic development sales tax to fund my office. And you know, when a kansas county that is 3:1 registered republicans votes to tax themselves, they really support something.

    And then? The county and city wiped out the economic development program, started a new one, and took the money we raised and built a freakin’ water park. Uh huh. In the middle of the desert here. Real economic development.

    So… what are citizens to do when they so clearly make their will known, and their elected officials ignore it?

    Every single one of those city council members has been defeated, as have all but one of the county commissioners, and he’s dead. They did go to the polls over the last five years and get rid of the bassturds.

    But the damage has been done. And as you remember from one of my previous posts, the new mayor, city council, and county commissioners are not much better. They are still owned by the same people.

    Just like obama is still owned by the same people who owned the bushies.

    It’s all very discouraging to me….

  13. PrairiePond

    “Is my energy better spent letting my elected officials know I support them standing up to that sort of thing and will back that with my vote, or by going and trying to shout down people who are, by choice, deaf?”

    I dont think it matters, oma. I think the only thing our elected officials understand is money.

    That goddam phil gramm was right when he said the best friend of every candidate is “ready cash”.

    As long as evil has more cash, we’re going to continue sliding into the shithole.

    And who has more cash than the “faithful”?

    • wicked

      I hate to say it, prairiepond, but I agree. Sad. Very sad.

      And those who vote them in will continue to vote against their best interests. Why? Because some of them consider themselves “wealthy.” They don’t even know what wealthy means.

  14. wicked


    My friend in TX has told me their stocks have been going up again. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that your investment funds for son’s college are doing are will do the same. 🙂

  15. annie moose

    “So… what are citizens to do when they so clearly make their will known, and their elected officials ignore it?”

    This one seems to be picking up steam

    • I’m gonna stick with two wrongs don’t make a right. I said I would pay and I do what I say.

      • jammer5

        People are asking for the original mortgage papers, and few lenders can produce them. Some judges are siding with the home owners and demanding the original papers be produced prior to kicking people out of their houses.

      • annie moose

        don’t shoot me I’m only the messenger .


        Published: July 25, 2009

        Melissa Birks is being stalked. Her cellphone keeps ringing, always from a caller marked “unknown.” She says she knows it is her credit card company wondering why she stopped making payments. Ms. Birks, who owes $28,830, has nothing to say.

        Those on the front lines of the debt industry say there is a small but increasingly noticeable group of strapped consumers who, like Ms. Birks, are deciding they will simply stop paying. After loading up on debt eagerly provided by the card companies during the boom times, these people now find themselves trapped in an endless cycle where they are charged interest on interest and fees upon fees while the lenders get government bailouts.

        They are upset — at the unyielding banks and often at their free-spending selves — and are pre-emptively defaulting. They could continue to pay for a while longer but instead are walking away. “You reach a point where you embrace the darkness of default,” said Adam Levin, chairman of the financial products Web site Credit.com.

        The lending industry term for these people is “ruthless defaulters.” In a miserable economy where paychecks, savings and expectations are all diminished, their numbers will surely grow.

        “They’ve done the math on their account and they’re very angry,” said Corey Calabrese, a Fordham Law student who is an administrator of the school’s walk-in clinic for debtors at Manhattan Civil Court. Public sentiment is on their side, she added: “For the first time, Americans are no longer blaming the borrower but are looking at the credit card companies.”

      • annie moose

        This is my job as a citizen, get people to think


        News item
        The Gambino Crime Syndicate Labels Americans As Ruthless Defaulters
        Mon, 27 Jul 2009 10:07:00 GMT – Timing Logic

        I was blowing bubbles with a friend last week and told him I was going to do what the banksters had done to us. In other words, I was going to load up on credit cards, run them to their limit then just decide I wasn’t going to pay them. Now I’m not going to do that. At least not right now. But why is this any different than what Wall Street did? I am completely serious. They ran up debt and leverage on their balance sheets, made hundreds and hundreds of billions in bonuses for this criminal behavior, then they walked away. Ultimately this required a taxpayer bailout. All while this fraudulent activity was rewarded. Wall Street kept all of the bonuses and salaries made by living-large off of corruption.

        Now these same crooks are labeling Americans unable to pay their Gambino crime syndicate terms as ruthless defaulters. Instead of working with people to create a plan for repayment, we see attempts of extortion and racketeering. Tactics used by the Gambino crime syndicate. Can’t pay 12% rates? Okay it goes to 18%. Can’t pay 18%? It goes to 25%. Can’t pay 25%, we’ll send Bruno out to take care of the situation – take your car, your house, your food, whatever. (No offense to anyone named Bruno) All courtesy of laws passed by our government. Labeling someone as a ruthless defaulter is really funny coming from an industry that is so usurious that it would make any crime syndicate blush with envy.

        I’m not an attorney but I suspect fraud abrogates a contract. Frankly, I’m not sure why the American people should be any more obligated to pay their debts than banks. There apparently is no rule of law or at best a selective enforcement of arbitrary laws. Who decides what laws are enforced for whom? Isn’t this really a breakdown of society? Where shall it end? It won’t end until we see a return to the rule of law for everyone.

        Where is the Pecora investigation into the fraud we see today? Where is the transparency into the seamy world of Washington and Wall Street corruption? Where is the lobbyist reform? Where are the salary clawbacks by an outraged government? Ah, it’s business as usual in Washington.

        It’s good to be the king. Not much longer though.

  16. wicked

    Got a letter from Brownback on Thursday. For once, I decided to open it. After skimming it quickly, I saw it had the usual, “I’m concerned about health care” mumbo jumbo in it, so I tossed it on my desk.

    Why didn’t I toss it in the trash? I’m rethinking it. Although I don’t think Sam is the best of the two senators—not that Roberts is all that much better—I think it’s time to give him the opportunity of seeing what common people have to say. And you can’t get much more common than me and mine.

    The problem will be not to turn it into a rant. Frankly, I’d much rather rant. 🙂 OTOH, ranting immediately turns people of a different mind to shutting down their listening devices.

    BTW, watched Bill Maher last night. His first “special guest” was Dr. David Scheiner, President Obama’s former doctor, who is hugely in favor of single payer health care and has joined with others to push for it.

    The other two panel guests were Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), both of whom have appeared on the show before. What they had to say was…interesting. Of course they’re not in favor of the Dems health care bill(s), but they espouse health care reform. Not that the Repubs can come up with anything that will help anyone but the insurance and drug companies, but they did admit that both insurance and drug companies have their hand in the pockets of Congress. Of course Kingston and Issa don’t! Or so they said.

    Guess I’ll just write two letters. One to Brownback and the other to Roberts. Or maybe I’ll add Toddy to the list, too. I already know the response I’ll get, but it’s time to be heard.

  17. tosmarttobegop

    PP take care of your self will ya? LOL the rattle snake tale reminded me of a story a co-worker told me. His family is from Arkansas and grew Rice. You might guess there problem was not Rattlers as much as Moccasins. His grandma went to tend the chickens one day and a water Moccasin came climbing out of a hole in the coop. It bite her on the big toe and there was a garden hoe close and the snake ended up in small pieces.

    Her big toe swelled up and finally she drove herself to the local Doctor. He asked what happen and she said a water Moccasin had bite her on the big toe. He smile knowing her and knew she was a pistol, he said
    “I bet the snake died!”. She replied Yes it did! Then noticed he just stood there smiling, she said “No you A hole I did not poison the snake!