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National News

Saturday, 11 August, 2007 11:51 AM

Action Plan for America: Six Steps You Can Take to Make a Positive Difference in Our Future

Many Americans believe that our nation is headed in the wrong direction. In fact, a recent poll suggests that only 18 percent believe we are moving in the right direction. That's right. America is facing huge threats economically, socially, and politically, and it's hard to know how to solve them. Some might be tempted to say, "Vote Democrat!" Or if you're on the other side, "Keep on voting Republican!" But such answers are far too simplistic. They suggest you agree with either the "D" or the "R" platform in its entirety—and nowadays, there's such a chasm between the two parties that you probably don't. People are more complex than that. So are the issues. And it's that complexity that makes us shrug our shoulders, hold our noses, and vote the party line—or not vote at all.

"We must stop identifying ourselves as either Republicans or Democrats, and start identifying ourselves first and foremost as Americans," asserts Bernadette Vadurro, author of America's Conscience. "We must realize that neither party is going to be our savior. We must care enough about this country to put our divisive views aside and come together to make this a great place to live, work, and play—and a place that people around the world will once again respect. If we don't, we will lose everything."
Assuming you don't have enough money to run for political office, it's hard to know where to start. But Vadurro offers a few (realistic and doable) action steps that will help put our nation's future back into the hands of the American public and stop the self-serving special interest and manipulative politicians from doing your thinking for you.

Decide what your top three issues are. It's impossible to know everything about everything in today's political world. The first step to becoming an active, informed American is to choose the top three issues that most closely affect your life and become an expert on them. For instance, if you have a loved one serving in Iraq, a child in a lackluster school system, and medical bills that you're struggling to pay, "your" issues might be the war, education, and healthcare. Your neighbor's issues might be immigration, global warming, and alternate energy sources. Choosing issues that hit "close to home" will make you far more likely to do the hard work of researching them. Read up on your issues and pay close attention to any new policies that are introduced in Congress that will affect them.

Elections are coming up. Get to know the candidates. With all of the back and forth between candidates, it's hard to know what the real truth is. Here's an interesting fact about human nature: When people don't know whom to believe, they have a tendency to vote for the person they "like" the most. Unfortunately, the kind of person you might want to have a beer with doesn't necessarily make the best president. (Besides, have you ever had a beer with someone only to discover that you like him less than you thought you would?) In order to make the most informed choice in November 2008, start digging for information about the candidates now. Find reliable, objective sources that report on the candidates and pay attention to how their platforms differ on your three key issues. Eventually, you'll find that one candidate in particular seems to be the right one for you.

Write your congressperson. If there is an issue you feel strongly about, write your congressperson to let him or her know your beliefs on the subject. Your government representatives care about what their constituents think. By sharing your personal beliefs on the subject, you could help shape the critical decisions your rep must make. If you really want to demonstrate the strength of your position, pass around a petition to people in your area, and ask them to sign it if they agree. Then, send the signature-filled petition to your congressperson. It's a great way to send the message to him or her that you and other constituents want to see an important change. It's your duty to provide input—and your representative's job to listen.

Join an organized political group. Individually, you might think there is a limit to the difference you can make. That's why it's often a good idea to find and join a political group that actively tries to create positive change on the issues that matter to you. There are all kinds of groups out there: some that focus on the environment, some that focus on education, other groups that simply focus on positive change to the political system itself. Just go online to research the groups and the issues and chances are you'll find a good fit for you.

Get your news from a reliable, objective source. Between print, TV, and the Internet, there are innumerable places for you to get your news. The catch is that more and more news sources are presenting news with their own political slant. When you're on your mission to become an informed American, the most important thing you'll need to know are the cold, hard facts—and to get the facts, you'll want to find an objective news source that presents all of the points on hot-button issues. "If it seems like propaganda, it probably is," notes Vadurro.

Pay attention to the views of others. If you keep yourself in a bubble where you hear only the opinions of those from your same background, or listen only to people who have the same exact views as you, you perpetuate the problems of division that we currently have in America. Listening to what others have to say and having open, honest conversations with people who don't always believe the same things as you is a great way to compromise and find solutions for the problems that plague our political system today. "We are a diverse nation, and that means no one is going to be happy 100 percent of the time," says Vadurro. "But working together to find the best possible solution is the first step toward making a positive difference for us all."

About the Book:

By Bernadette T. Vadurro, author of America's Conscience:
Facing Threats to Democracy, the Middle Class and Our World
(Speakers Live Books, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-9793580-0-5, $24.95)

Source: DeHart & Company



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