When you consider the numbers, it is easy to feel small and insignificant. According to the last census, the United States has over 308 million people, Texas has over 25 million people, and our congressional district has 650,000 people. How can any one person expect for their voice to be heard? Yet, our government is elected by the people to represent the people. If the people never say what is on their minds, how can our government be expected to represent us?
My family has had a few months of speaking up recently. We have experienced the range from calling legislators and visiting their offices, to testifying before committees, to observing house and senate proceedings, to assisting in drafting the wording on some bills, to simply writing letters to those who are supposed to be representing us. Some of our involvement has yielded results, some has not, and some remains to be seen. I will keep you posted.
Macy went to the capitol to testify in favor of some pending wildlife bills, in particular, a bill to allow citizens in mule deer country to have some of the same management opportunities as people in whitetail country have had for years. Having never done anything like this before, he was apprehensive. After his day of testifying before the House Cultural and Natural Resources Committee, all apprehension was gone and he was ready to jump in with both feet. He was impressed by the lack of real information imparted in most of the testimony given. His impression was that the majority of people speaking before the committee were out to confuse and cloud the issues. Any of you who know Macy will understand that this is not his modus operandi and he has little tolerance for anyone else doing it. As he followed this particular bill through the rest of the legislative process, he was astounded at how much "befuddle them with bull" he saw and how little "bedazzling with brilliance" was at work. In the end, some of bills he was supporting got lost in the shuffle, known as "dying in committee," but the mule deer bill survived the obstacle course and was signed into law. Macy, having seen how these things really work, is "loaded for bear" on the political process now.
None of the family and homeschool bills we supported as a part of our participation in the Texas Homeschool Coalition’s Capitol Days even made it to the house or senate for a vote. Prior to this year, I had no idea how few bills ever saw the light of day. I understand filters are in place to prevent a lot of time-wasting nonsense from clogging up the system, but they are catching quite a lot of bills that need to be considered. When we see how family-unfriendly our judicial system can be, we need to keep in mind that wealthy, high-powered groups and individuals generally waste little time pushing for family law changes, so most of them die in committee. Attention and action follow money, and improving the status of families really does not make money for anyone.
Finally, I was spurred into speaking up upon receiving the paperwork to renew our health insurance in this post Health Care Reform era. Since we support our family with two small businesses, we pay our own health insurance premiums. Even though we have had a relatively good deal, the amount of the monthly payments will still make you reach for your nitro pills—but that was BEFORE health care reform! I opened the envelope last week and discovered my heart-attack-inducing premiums are going up by over $300 per month. I copied the summary sheet from the insurance company showing the before and after, wrote a brief letter saying "here is what is happening in the real world," and mailed copies to Mr. Obama, Mrs. Hutchison, Mr. Cornyn, Mr. Conaway, and Mr. Boehner. I do not know if they will ever be read, but I felt it important to make the effort.
In summary, yes, as individuals, we are tiny pieces of an enormous picture. But look around and see how many people are bothering to speak up. Sometimes when you speak up, you will be heard and you can make a difference. If all of us spoke up, think of what a difference we could make. SpringCreekArtsGuild@gmail.com