Unless we do our part, no matter who wins, we lose

Your Election Day reminder that we can’t rely on a new figurehead to fix all the problems for us.

Written by Beryl Lipton
Edited by JPat Brown

Hello to you, Election Day in America. You’ve been a long time coming.

Finally, we can begin to hear the loser’s name trickle away, even if never completely. We won’t, at least, be subjected to daily poll/email/shocker updates on the radio, the television, from strangers on the subway, everywhere, really, just everywhere, finally, it will stop. Mostly.

Except then, of course, we return to the routines of everyday, and the world is just the same as it was, as anticlimactic as a birthday - older, but wiser?

Whatever projection of ourselves, our America, was cast in this year’s presidential candidates drew its power from the reality of life in this country. That doesn’t transform simply because we’ve picked a person. An election doesn’t necessitate a change of heart at home. It barely necessitates a change of government.

No matter who wins, it will remain more important than ever to encourage accountability and transparency at every level of our government, both in positions elected and those many, many unelected roles that are intended to serve the people of the United States.

And if this election cycle made you feel something, then maybe you should help.

It needn’t take a lot. It may only even as small as a sidewalk block, only as big as asking a question. Taking an interest.

The great dissatisfaction with our current system is comprised of a lot of tired elements, not least of which is the distrust that breeds when communication fails. There are obvious faults on both sides.

Our government has a long history of betraying our trust - likewise, many segments of the population feel betrayed, justly or not, when it realizes that a government practice, long-exercised and integrated into the workflow, even exists.

Hillary Clinton wasn’t the first, nor the last, to use private email. Donald Trump isn’t the first, nor the last, to exploit every avenue in the battle to avoid taxes. But these sorts of policies, these sorts of behaviors, all sorts of shortsightedness and misinformation exist, top-to-bottom. It’s a shock to see what we’ve allowed to be legal.

You don’t need to wait for a hellish election year to call them out.

MuckRock firmly believes that the Freedom of Information Act and the power of public records laws allows every citizen - not just journalists or lawyers or the corporate sector - to engage with the ways rules and laws are decided and implemented.

It operates on the principle that a land by all, for all must perform and discuss policies openly, with access to the official record and consideration for the injustices it condones.

But it also operates imperfectly, on dated systems with obstructionist guidelines ill-suited for a modern nation with a tech-savvy and critical populace. It will take a little help from a lot of people to improve it, but positive incremental change is not impossible. After all, it was negative incremental change that sort of got us here to begin with.

So, ask questions of your state. Demand the answers to which you’re entitled. See and solve for yourself the myriad minutiae that create what we call the American Dream.

Good Election Day to you, America. You’ve still got a long way to go.


Image by NASA via Flickr and is licensed under CC BY 2.0