One of the overwhelming messages I took away from the truck show meetings we attended this year is the need to let people who are making the rules know how the people who have to follow them are impacted by their decisions. And I’m not just referring to trucking-specific issues. I’m talking about laws, issues and legislation in general.
The act of casting a ballot is the easy part. Educating yourself on what’s going on enough to be able to decide on how to vote, or how to influence your representatives to vote, is where the work comes in. Let’s face it, not a lot of us have time to troll the federal websites every day to see what legislation is being debated and voted upon, and even if you have the time, understanding the language is often difficult.
Countable is an application that not only makes it easier to know exactly what the issues on schedule are — it directly connects the user to their representatives. The capacity to search issues and post opinions is enhanced by concise explanation of specific bills, in layman language. One-click email access to elected officials is user-friendly, and the ability to share issues and opinions easily on social media with others make it appealing to grass roots efforts.
I love this app. It’s really a brilliant idea, and well worth the time it takes to become proficient in using it. It’s a little more difficult than OOIDA’s Fighting for Truckers website to navigate as far as trucking-specific issues, but Countable has a feature in which you can actually post a video to your representatives, and be notified when it’s viewed. It also tracks and notifies on email messages.
As much as writers hate to admit it, we’re in a 30-second video world. Visual impact can’t be competed with much. I’m willing to admit a video of some of the scary places drivers are forced to park would make more of a statement than any of my snarky stories or heartfelt emails. Especially if every single member of Congress got one, or ten or a hundred, from their constituents.
People scream a lot about their First Amendment rights and rarely use them as they were originally intended. We have to remember the fundamental idea was put on paper way before Facebook trolls or CB Rambos were ever a thing.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
That last part — “to petition the government for a redress of grievances” — puts the responsibility of letting the government know those grievances in the hands of those governed. Having our freedom of speech is the treat that comes along with that responsibility. Kind of like when you were a kid and got one of those suckers-on-a-string for being brave and having your vaccinations – you get the idea.
I’m going to beef up the “If you don’t vote, you can’t gripe” statement with “And if you don’t gripe to those who vote for you, don’t gripe to me.” You’ve got the tools, go get em’.