After a week spent meeting with our Washington legislators in D.C., I am reinvigorated by the positive power of government. Washington state is a great example of bipartisan engagement. As a 22-year-old, I believe that if you don’t like the rules of the game, learn the rules and then change them to play the game you see as just. 

The Borgen Project website states: “From ending segregation to providing women with the right to vote, nearly every wrong ever righted was achieved by advocacy. When the public is engaged, informed, and mobilized around an issue, that is the tipping point where justice occurs.” 

Our history has shown time and time again that an informed, concerned, mobilized constituency is often a primary prerequisite to great social change. This mobilization ensures that not only the public is engaged — but that policy makers realize the gravity of the issues and have resources and the constituent support they need to take action. For constituents, this means active engagement, not complacent complaining. Gonzaga students should be eager to engage with our global village. 

For example, politics aside, I find there is nothing complicated about recognizing the need to improve living conditions for people suffering in abject poverty. Our government has been able to make positive impacts across the pond and at home, but we voters need to engage again and again to ensure our legislators keep foreign relations and international affairs as a priority. 

Why is it that we don’t always utilize this fundamental and guaranteed right of our great democracy to participate in our government and voice our concerns? I have come to believe it is because we are inundated with options and thus paralyzed with potential actions. 

The Borgen Project and ONE Campaign have been ways I’ve engaged as a full-time student and brought friends along for the ride to challenge public and political pessimism. 

I challenge you to find out who represents you. Everyone living in the United States is served by two U.S. Senators and one U.S. Representative. 

That’s right, they serve you! Give them a 30 second call. 

How does a 30 second phone call or email to my Congressional leaders help pass legislation? Congressional offices tally every issue that people in their district contact them about. It’s not uncommon for a leader to support a poverty-reduction bill after as few as seven to ten people contact them in support of it. 

Government works if you work it. Please take the time to work it. 

Tristana Leist is a senior studying business administration law with a concentration in public policy. 

 

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