True Independence Requires Reciprocal Civic Empowerment

“A republic… if you can keep it…”

The work of building up to a better outcome has always already begun, before we have a chance to think about the work itself or its necessity.

The act of leading, then, is a recognition of the forces that are converging and a conscious understanding of how to work with them, when and to what purpose.

Having just arrived back from a journey to the heart of our democracy, I am again affirmed in the feeling that our democracy is deeply personal. And so, the success of our democracy depends on the intimate experience each participant has of the democratic process.

The nature of that intimate experience is not up to others, not exclusively. We have a role to play in deciding how we live the leverage of our citizenship.

There is no action value in the cynical response.

We want a Congress in which the partisan campaign stops where lawmaking begins, in which lawmakers work together as servants of the general public good. To get there, we have to understand why manifesting this is so challenging to elected officials and their staff.

Democracy means they will never be in full control of what happens around them or of the pressures they face. That is good. It is integral to how democracy protects the planning of sound public policy against corrupt interests, but it can be intensely frustrating to watch, from a distance.

What we have to remember is: it is empowering to citizens that the multidirectional pressures of democratic government create challenges for those who would lead.

Democracy means we can empower our representatives “to serve well and honorably”—which they have sworn to do, and which they want, more than anything, to do—by modeling an open-minded, person-to-person, non-partisan approach to reciprocal civic empowerment.

We cannot expect this change if we don’t live it.

Our ability to rise above reflexive judgment, factional bias, and the easy tirade, determines our ability to achieve a better world, together. Every single one of us is an agent of change, whether we choose to be or not, and the stakes could not be higher.

If we empower vicious politics with vicious private judgment, then we will get the political dynamics that go with that kind of disempowered civics. If we empower non-biased collaborative future-building as honorable service, by serving and supporting those who serve, we will get the political dynamics that go with that kind of reciprocal civic empowerment.

Every single one of us matters.