Apathy has no place in politics
By AMELIA MORRISON HIPPS
Welcome to Down Home Politics, your source for the straight skinny on how policies and laws may impact your life and livelihood.
First, I want to thank Angel and Becky for giving me this opportunity to write for Wilson Living Magazine, as well as the blog on their website. I’m very excited to be a part of their growing publication, and I hope you’ll find my presence among their pages informative and enlightening.
To begin, let me tell you a little about myself. Next, I’ll give you my philosophy about party politics and why you won’t find them in this space or on my blog. And last, I’ll give you an idea of what you can expect to read in both.
For those of you who may not know me, I’m a former newspaper editor and reporter who has been interested in politics since the 1968 presidential election when I was 8. (Now you can do the math and figure out how old I am!)
I spent almost 25 years in the newspaper business, all at the community-journalism level, because I liked being close to the everyday people impacted by the news we printed. My last newspaper job was as managing editor of The Lebanon Democrat, which I left in January 2012 after almost six years there. My husband and I started Capitol Newswatch LLC, a news service providing coverage of the Tennessee General Assembly to rural, community based newspapers throughout the state.
Today, while I still do this for a few papers, most of my time is spent freelance writing, as well as doing some political consulting and writing press releases for local businesses.
Writing for Wilson Living Magazine will allow me to write about something I’m passionate about, while also being close to those who are impacted by the legislation and ordinances brought by lawmakers at all levels.
My weekly blog, which will be posted on www.WilsonLivingMagazine.com each Thursday, will provide coverage of Lebanon and Wilson County government activities. This may be coverage of meetings that week, or it may be more in-depth reporting of a single issue. And, you may find more frequent postings if news warrants it.
As far as what to expect in this space, you’ll be sadly disappointed if you think you’ll find me promoting one party over another. Personally, I despise party politics. If I had my way, all political parties would be dissolved, but that’s a discussion for another column.
George Washington, our country’s first president, warned of the dangers of partisan politics in his farewell speech. Washington wrote and spoke the following words:
“Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally. … the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are suffi cient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
“It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.
“… in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.”
With these words as my guide, you will not read a ranting for or against a particular party, but rather an explanation as to why you need to take heed of a political body’s actions.
Throughout my career, numerous people have said to me, “I just don’t care about politics,” and that is their right. However, I take issue when I hear these same individuals complain that politicians seem to have forgotten that they are accountable to the people who elected them.
Often, my question to these individuals is, “Did you do anything about it? Did you work for his or her political opponent if you didn’t like the job the person was doing? Did you get out and support the law or policy you thought was best?” All too frequently, the answer is no. Apathy has no place in politics. Saying, “I just don’t care about politics,” is the equivalent of saying, “I don’t care about the welfare of my children, my spouse, my parents, my siblings, etc.” While that may sound harsh, it is true. By not caring about politics, we are basically relinquishing to the government how we can and cannot live their lives.
Like it or not, politics permeates every aspect of our lives one way or another, and for that reason alone, we should all care. So with each issue, my goal will be to try and ignite a spark in those who are currently ambivalent; fan the embers of those who think it doesn’t matter anymore, so why try; and feed the fires of those actively trying to make a difference, so that maybe, just maybe, in this part of Middle Tennessee, I can, in the words of Washington again:
“Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.”
Amelia Morrison Hipps is a local freelance writer, political consultant and public relations specialist. She may be reached at (615) 442-8667 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @CapitolNews_TN.