I caught the end of the Thom Hartmann show today, and he was talking to someone from Alternet. It was the tail end of the segment, so I didn’t catch the guest’s name. He said something that caught my attention.
In discussing what he views as the most pressing issues in American politics today, he said that we, as Americans have no sense of political identity.
It’s an interesting premise because the term, political identity, is so undefined. I think it goes deeper than the labels we place on ourselves and others: liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, progressive, etc. Likewise, I think it goes beyond identity politics: race, gender, religion, etc.
I guess the question is what does it mean? What is a political identity?
I don’t know, but I think it has something to do with our self-identification as part of the body politic. Do you think of yourself as part of politics, or is politics just something that we “do” when an election rolls around? Or worse, is it just something that we observe from the outside without participating?
What would it look like for us to identify as political? Does it change anything? Would it increase non-electoral participation in our political process?
Let’s give it a try. Here’s an interesting challenge for my readers in 2015.
Do something political. Go to a meeting of the local party organization at some point. Go to a town hall put on by one of your representatives. Write a letter to the editor or your member of Congress. In short, get off the political sidelines at least once.
Here’s an example of something you could do.
I got an email from our PTA advocacy chair inviting me to go to Olympia for PTA lobby day. We’d be joining with other PTA members to rally in support of public education, a huge issue for the Washington legislature this year. I’m sure that such activities happen all across the country.
And here’s part two of the challenge:
Once you have done something, come back here and share about it in the comment section. Had you ever done such a thing before? Was it a good experience? Would you do it again? Would you go deeper into things political?
Seriously…try it and come back here and tell me about it, whether it’s next week or in December.
Try getting involved and see if it changes your outlook at all.