Recently my niece approached me to ask questions about politics. She’s a young teenager, years short of being able to vote, but she wants to become informed and involved so that she could positively participate by the time she can vote. The conversation served as a reminder to me of how important it is for our young people to be able to obtain information on political issues that is not tainted by the rancor that often pervades political discussions. In other words we need a clearinghouse for civil civic conversation. I decided that I wanted to form an organization that would work for that purpose.
When I read the plea at Ladies Logic regarding our atrocious levels of participation in Utah (and remembered my own pleas to encourage greater levels of participation here), I realized that the time to act was now and that the need was not only for our youth who are approaching or recently passing the age where they can vote but also for every citizen who can’t bring themselves to really participate in the dirty game of politics – many of whom simply stay out of the discussion and vote without becoming well informed on the issues. We need to reach “the silent majority.”
The group I will be forming will be open to, even encouraging of, participation by people of all political perspectives. The only requirement for participation is a commitment to avoid the playground politics of name calling and guilt by association. The aim of the group will be to draw people out of the silent majority until the silent become the minority by fostering civil dialog between people of differing perspectives. We will not aim to come to a consensus except the consensus that wider participation is better than narrower participation. I would like the group to seek to engage other group members in public discussion of issues so that people who have been silent will have a chance to be exposed to various positions on important issues without the likelyhood of being personally insulted by those who disagree with them. I also would like the group, individually and collectively, to engage in discussing issues with candidates for office and elected officials with an emphasis on local candidates and officials and a balance of local, state, and national issues.
In addition to my own energy, and knowledge I need the energy and experience of others who can help me to spread the word, engage effectively with public officials, organize group efforts, and generate ideas to further these aims.
I would ask anyone who believes in the importance of broad political participation, especially if you are in Utah, to please contact me publicly or privately to help me get this off the ground. Leave me comments or drop me an email if you have interest in participating, ideas about what can and should be done, or if you know of people who could help me in this.