Saturday, September 21, 2013

Waging Politics, Part 1

This series outlines a multi-pronged approach that can be used to retake America's government within the bounds of the peaceful measures foreseen and codified by our national Constitution and by such Constitutional federal and state laws as have been established.

America is under assault by elected and appointed officials at all levels who, at best, do not have the balls to stand up for what is right. Towards the bad end of the spectrum, these officials hate what America stands for and seek to undermine our nation; they are also corrupt, having sold out to potentially hostile foreign powers and to transnational organized crime, which itself is often associated with organizations that are ideologically opposed to everything America stands for.

This is a radical and dramatic change from times when American officials stood up for what they believed in, when they were raised with an understanding of and love for what made America great, and when corruption among political leaders meant working deals with American organized crime figures, rather than with foreign cartels that are tied to terrorist groups.

This series will address practical means of pressuring government and replacing defective government officials. The fact that the American people are serious about doing so and know how to go about it may cause such officials to toe the line, making the need to replace them less immediate. The focus will be below the Presidential level, and will address federal, state and local officials, both elected and appointed. I am going to assume you have basic knowledge of how government is supposed to work, but will nonetheless review some key points.

As you of course know, the US government has an executive lead by the President and Vice-President. Also, there is a bicameral legislative branch consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. These are all elected officials. This structure is paralleled at the state level with a governor and lieutenant governor, as well as a state legislature, typically comprised of a state senate and a state house or state assembly.

Just as each state has two Senators in Washington, and each state is divided into one or more Congressional districts, so are states divided into districts for the state senate and the state house or state assembly. Additionally, states often have other statewide elected officials; at the national level, these officials might be part of the President's appointed cabinet, but at the state level, they are directly elected by the people.

Similarly, counties in the United States tend to be divided into districts for a body often known as a county commission, which is a legislative-type body. Executive authority at this level may be held by an executive officer who is appointed by elected officials, or by someone directly elected by the people. Also at the county level are county sheriffs and other county officials who are elected.

There are also municipal governments, with a chief executive – a mayor – and a legislative body, often a city council. Members of the city council are elected from districts within the city, in a manner similar to the way Congressional Representatives are elected from districts within the country, while the mayor is generally elected by the entire city.

There are also township and other local government structures, in addition to school boards (both state and local), as well as elected officials for various other purposes, which can be quite diverse in some states.

In addition to all of this, we have judges. Federal judges are appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate. At the state level, judges may be appointed in a similar manner, by the governor with consent of the legislature, or, more often, they may be elected by the people. Then, there are local judicial positions, many of them elected.

This, then, is the general landscape of government in our country.

But, what is government for? It is here to serve the people, though this fact often gets lost on those who are supposed to serve us. Thus, one can get help from many government officials, but in a situation where a government official is doing what he should not be doing, or not doing what he should be doing, the key to changing that is to pressure the appropriate elected official: this guy's boss who can compel him to do something or fire him, a sheriff who can arrest him, a legislator who can impeach him...

Before we can do this, we need to identify who our elected officials are and how to contact them. In the case of the US Senate and the US House of Representatives, it is very easy to go to the appropriate websites and find out who these people are, and communicate with them directly through their official website. Similarly, states maintain websites for state offices and state legislatures, through which one can find out who one's elected officials are and communicate with them directly through their official website.

However, a more systematic approach is to go to one's county elections office, which should maintain a list of every elected official who has a district which includes places within the county. As election time approaches, a county elections office also usually has available for the public a list of all candidates who have filed to run for an elected office, as well as contact information for that candidate, such as a candidate's home address. For some municipal offices, one may need to go to a city elections office for the information. States usually have some kind of elections office (see my sidebar), often under the secretary of state, which may have helpful information, as well. In any of these places, employees are generally quite happy to help residents, citizens and voters find out districting information and learn who their elected officials are and how to contact them. Much of this information is available online; I have plenty of useful websites linked in my sidebar.

So, you have identified a matter you want addressed. Begin by contacting whatever official may be able to address it, whether elected or not. Some of these people actually care; in any case, give them a chance to do their job. Assuming the matter is not addressed in a satisfactory manner, you have identified an elected official who has power over the matter, or power over the people who have power over the matter. Contact that person. Be polite, be professional, explain your position, and offer to provide the official with more information.

But, what if your elected official won't play ball?

What if your elected official is the problem?

More to follow.

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