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Raise your voice, change the world

Recently, I have seen quite a few items in The Alpena News about unity.

And why not? This country is dangerously divided, so coming together seems like the reasonable thing to do, and begs the question, “If not now, when?”

All this division has created mistrust in our government. A quick look at a historical public trust survey from the Pew Research Center reveals only 20% of Americans trust our government to do the right thing. In 1964, 77% percent trusted the federal government, and it has been on a steady decline since, with the exception of an upward bubble in the 1980s and one again around the late 1990s.

Maybe that’s because Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton worked with the “other side”. Maybe they did so begrudgingly, but they knew that, to get things done, they needed to compromise.

Today, the word compromise is foreign to most elected officials in Washington.

Take, for example, a recent email post from a sitting Republican senator. It was titled, “2021 Republican Issues Survey”. One question was, “Which issue should be most important to Republicans in 2021?”

Now, remember, this was from a sitting U.S. senator, a person elected to represent all the people in their state, not just Republicans, so immediately I knew this was just another partisan piece, but I read on.

The first question of which issue was most important was, “Stopping the Democrats’ extreme agenda.”

Well, how’s that for supporting the need for unity?

If the entire Republican Party believes this is the most important issue in 2021, then they deserve to lose the White House and the Senate. And, if the Democrats race forward without consideration for the half of the country that’s conservative, then they deserve to lose power in the next election, too.

With 80% percent of Americans not trusting them to do the right thing, you would think they could see the writing on the wall. But, no, practicing politics and playing politics are two very different things, and Washington’s agenda today is not to practice but to play politics.

It’s not a game for the millions of Americans who wake up each morning and head off to work. Same is true for the retired folks and for young people who expect our generation to do the difficult work leaving this nation in better shape than was left to us.

But, again, no.

Congress has degraded into a partisan warfare with a short-sighted vision that only extends out as far as the next election. Everything they do has a partisan motive.

We are just coming off an election with record voter turnout, and that is a good thing. But no longer can we just vote and sit back for two or four years and see how the folks we hired perform their job. We have to be a voice in their ear constantly. We have to let them know what we expect and if they are trying to unite or divide our country.

Folks, Washington won’t or can’t change on its own. It’s up to us to change Washington.

I just finished reading a children’s book titled “The Ballad of Tubbs Marshfield”, about marshland critters whose pond is becoming a toxic swamp.

Sounds a bit like Washington already, doesn’t it?

On the cover of that book, it says to the children, “Raise your voice, change the world.”

Well, if that message works for kids, it should work for us, too.

We Northeast Michiganders deserve better. That is why, at the end of this column, I have listed the contact information for our three Washington representatives. You could look it up, too, but, to make things more convenient, cut it out of the newspaper and stick it on the refrigerator, next to your kids’ or grandkids’ pictures, to be a constant reminder that they are expecting us to do the right thing, something 80% of us think Washington can’t do.

I think my next message to them is going to be, “If you want to spend 2021 playing politics instead of practicing politics, then I will, too, and won’t hesitate to call you out in my biweekly column.”

Is that a threat? Nope, it’s a promise, and it’s the least I can do for my kids and grandchildren.

Raise your voice, change the world.

To contact your U.S. representative or senator, see below, and let them know you are watching them.

Sen. Gary Peters

Hart Senate Office Building, Suite 724

Washington, D.C., 20510

202-224-6221

peters.senate.gov/contact/email-gary

Sen. Debbie Stabenow

731 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C., 20510-2204

202-224-4822

stabenow.senate.gov/contact

Congressman Jack Bergman

66 Cannon House Office Building

Washington, D.C., 20515

202-225-4735

Bergman.constituent@mail.house.gov

Greg Awtry is the former publisher of the Scottsbluff (Neb.) Star-Herald and Nebraska’s York News-Times. He is now retired and living in Hubbard Lake. Greg can be contacted at gregawtry@awtry.com.

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