Let’s have a show of hands, how many people here are sick and tired of politics; how many could be happy to live out their lives not reading the names Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Mitch McConnell, or Paul Ryan again?
It looks like we have a stadium full of people. It seems as though campaigns and politics never end. Ted Turner played a big role in never ending politics. Ted was the founder of CNN, the first 24/7 all-news channel. It was a game changer.
CNN had a lot of time to fill. Since they were broadcast to a national audience, news of Atlanta, CNN’s Headquarters, was of little interest to the rest of the nation. Washington, DC was a natural place to find national content and Washington was transformed into Hollywood East.
Before CNN, an election would end and the Nation got a 14-month rest from political posturing. That vanished in the 1980s. I recall having a drink with Senator Alan Dixon (D-IL) in the 1980s as he complained there was no longer out of cycle fundraising, as he took a check for $1,000.00 from me just because we were such “good friends.”
Senators have a lot of good friends. Friendship is often bought in Washington. People get tired of hearing about Washington.
Washington was my life for many decades, and do you know what? I get sick of hearing about it too. I write about it now but there are days I am tired of writing about it. This is one of those days, even though I’ve managed to write 259 words about Washington so far in an article about something other than Washington.
Getting sick of hearing about national politics does not mean we aren’t engaged as citizens. Democracy and living in a free society takes work. We aren’t spoon-fed. With our freedom comes our responsibility to our nation, and our communities.
If you feel frustrated with National politics, then reach out to your local community. There are things you can do that will make where you live a better place.
America is a collection of communities. If we all make our communities better, then we make the nation better and it doesn’t depend on Washington, DC to act. We will all grow old waiting on Washington to act on anything that helps our communities.
Here are some things you can do:
Get to know your neighbors. I lived in a house in California for years and met my neighbor in a supermarket one day. I had no idea who it was until he told me his address. It happened to be next door to me. We live in such a mobile society that we forget about our neighborhoods.
Volunteer for something. It can be anything. Your local community organizations would love to have you. I recently volunteered to help the homeless in my hometown. I wrote about it in an article titled Do you judge me? You can read about the experience by clicking here. For me, it was something I will never forget and now I am looking for more ways to help the community.
Take care of each other. When you get to know your neighbors, you might discover someone who has a special need. Maybe it is an older couple who could use some help shoveling a sidewalk in winter, or cutting and trimming a lawn in summer. Perhaps a single parent who is having a hard time juggling doing it all could use a little help. We seem to not reach out for each other like we used to.
Beautify where you live. The photo above is a crosswalk in my hometown, Kankakee, Illinois. It was painted by local street artists. They were trying to give a dingy downtown in need of rebirth some sort of interest.
In Seattle, locals had a contest painting crosswalks so they were something more than just a couple of white lines going across the street. It transformed the appearance of neighborhoods.
Start a neighborhood walking club. If neighbors get together and walk their neighborhoods, they will see problems that need to be fixed.
There are literally hundreds of things you can do to make where we live better. Just decide you are going to be involved. If you can’t find an activity that enhances your community, then start one.
It doesn’t have to be big. A project will grow once you start it. You will be surprised at how people want to be involved in something.
Disengaging from Washington doesn’t mean disengaging from our communities. You are still being a good citizen and making where you live a better place.
Washington will still be there next year when it is time to think about midterm elections. Take your break from the national craziness. It’s OK.
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