Personal Citizenship - The Power of One
Posted: August 13, 2012
Last week I heard Michelle Obama speak to a cheering crowd of interested citizens and presidential campaign volunteers. She urged everyone to use the Power of One. Get one person registered to vote. Talk to one person about why you are voting they way you are. Take one registered voter to the polls. Get the neighborhood slouch who just hangs out to assist you in door-bell ringing.
If you've ever grumbled about something you wished would happen in your community or about something you didn't like, what was your next step? Personal citizenship takes many forms.
Americans are unique in that we try to solve problems instead of waiting for someone else to do it for us. Nearly 200 years ago Alexis de Tocqueville visited and observed our new nation. He noted in his subsequent 1835 publication, Democracy in America, that Americans are unique in their desire to form civic associations to improve things in their communities. We are a nation of volunteers. The idea of volunteering, no financial compensation included, is a foreign idea for many around the world.
Here are some ways you can help your community move forward:
- Talk to your neighbors about a local issue and decide on action you can take as a group. This may be writing letters to the editor or organizing a meeting for more information. You can do this as an individual; group action has more impact.
- Join a block or neighborhood watch group to coordinate improved safety with the police.
- Join or create a civic association to advocate with municipal officials for appropriate development or quality of life issues.
- Vote. The number of registered voters does not in any way represent the population eligible to vote. Even among those registered to vote, many only vote in presidential elections. In local elections, your single vote may be the difference between on candidate and another winning.
- Volunteer to serve on a municipal committee, board or commission.
- Run for elected office in your municipality or school district.
Personal citizenship takes many forms. It is the Power of One. What activities have you discovered that work for community change through the Power of One? I wonder how long the compiled list of ideas will be.