First, everyone who is eligible and registered to vote should go out and vote. This is a precious right that Americans have fought and died for. Failing to make use of it is a travesty. With that said, be sure you know what the candidates stand for. Make an informed vote.
With all of that aside, remember that we do not go “back to sleep” once the 2010 elections are history. Let’s talk about what happens after we know the winners. Whether the winner is an incumbent, a challenger, a Republican, a Democrat, or a member of a third party, we must pay attention to what they say and do in their public appearances. Before newcomers even take office, we need to be paying attention. Obviously, if one is an incumbent, we need to watch what they do when they resume their official duties.
When newcomers actually take office, this is where the rubber meets the road. We have to keep watch. We must remain engaged. Be ready to compliment when they do good and criticize when they do not. Hold their feet to the fire.
In the US House, remember that a Congressperson is to adhere to the Constitution and represent their constituents. They are not to act as the House Speaker’s representative to their constituents. Should someone continuously show they are taking the latter approach rather than the former, then a primary candidate needs to be sought out. For seats with longer terms, the recruitment process for opposition candidates or primary challengers (if necessary) should begin at least a year and a half before the election for that seat. This will allow people to get to know the candidate.
If a number of incumbents with a record of ignoring the US Constitution and/or their constituents get voted out and replaced, that is not the end of the story. We must hold the newcomers to their campaign promises and hold them to the oath they take. We must keep track of their votes and their statements. We must blog about it. We must talk about it with others. There is no reason or excuse for people to find government issues “boring.” Failure to pay attention over the last several decades has brought us to the present mess.
We know the Constitution provides checks and balances between the three branches of government. But these are secondary to a bigger check…the watch of the American people. Pay attention and stay engaged.
And don’t let the beginnings of an upcoming presidential election give Congress cover.