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Congress is Broken: 6 Actionable Ways One Person Can Spark Change Despite Feeling Helpless

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If you’re like me, you probably have this vague sense that something is wrong with our government and the way it works. Perhaps you’ve had this sense for a long time, but you haven’t been able to identify what is at the heart of the problem. Perhaps you know exactly what the problem is, but you feel like there’s no way you, as one person, can do anything about it. After all, this is the way things have always been done, right?

I was feeling exactly that way and was starting to feel that I might as well just give up and check out, as it didn’t seem to make any difference. Then I found Represent.Us, specifically this video of the problem. Everything clicked into place. Corruption is legal in America, and money talks. Once I knew the problem of corruption existed, I saw it everywhere, in any issue I cared about. Not only that, decisions and laws made by Congress that previously seemed to make no sense and to be completely the opposite of what America wanted, suddenly made sense. Once you start paying attention to where your representatives are getting their money, and what’s in the best interest of their donors, everything makes perfect sense.

But what can one person do about an issue as insidious and deep-seated as corruption?

1. Start talking about it.

Everyone is concerned about corruption, and if they’re like us, they may know something’s not right, but they don’t know what it is. The biggest, and most dangerous lie in America is that there’s nothing we can do about it. Time and time again, our country’s history shows us that, “Working together, ordinary people can perform extraordinary feats.” Start talking to your network about corruption, and help to open their eyes to it and what they can do about it. Share this post with them!

2. Research your representatives’ biggest donors.

Educate yourself about where your representatives’ big donations come from. Find out who pays to keep them in office. Open Secrets is a great starting point. If your area has a local resource for local representatives, use that, too. Once you know why they’re voting the way they vote, you will have power over them in your understanding of their voting record.

3. Join a local chapter or campaign.

Represent.Us has chapters all across the country. You can find your local chapter or, if you’re in San Diego, join our chapter or like our Facebook page to stay up-to-date on our next chapter meeting or action! If there isn’t a local chapter in your area, you can also search for a local anti-corruption campaign and get involved in the fight to take back our democracy and have the peoples’ voice heard, again!

4. Attend candidate forums, town halls, events your representatives will attend.

Ask them specifically where they fall on the issue of corruption. Be pointed. Be specific. Bring up instances of local corruption in your area and ask them what they think. Ask them if they endorse the American Anti-Corruption Act, and if they don’t, press them on why. Ask them if they support public funding of elections, and if they don’t, ask them why. Make them out themselves. Change the conversation to make this a voting issue.

5. Vote for candidates that endorse the American Anti-Corruption Act, and vote out those that don’t.

Put your “money where your mouth is” and vote as an anti-corruption voter, not along party lines. This is where I know I might lose you, especially in this highly-divided political climate; bear with me. Voting as an anti-corruption voter will take some research and effort on your part. You will have to attend voter education events, you will have to call your representatives’ offices and ask for his/her stance on the issue, and may even have to provide them with the Act itself. You will have to educate yourself on the issues, decide where you stand on them, and vote your conscience, as blind of party as you can stand, and make anti-corruption the issue that sways your vote. This is not going to be something just one party fixes; in order to fix the status quo, you will have to consider yourself “post-partisan.” If you can understand how this issue is bigger than party, then you’re ready for the next step.

6. Attend a Representation Day 2018 event near you.

If you’re not quite sure if this movement is for you, yet, you have a great opportunity to show up, feel the energy, and get to know the people behind the movement. THIS WEEKEND is Representation Day 2018, and there are events happening all across the country! Represent San Diego will be hosting a table at the March for Science on Saturday, April 14 in order to grow our movement and build support. Stop by and say hi!

I hope this post has inspired you to realize that you’re not alone. You’re not the only one feeling helpless that the government has stopped hearing your voice, and you’re not the only one looking for a way to fight back. And if you’re STILL not convinced, be inspired by this – we’re already winning! Now that you know some actionable steps to take back our democracy and make it work for you, again, get out there and spark change! We’ll be waiting for you 🙂


Emily is the former San Diego Represent Us chapter leader. She is passionate about the anti-corruption movement.