Campers, you may think people don’t want your advice and you don’t have a voice in policy issues. Give it to them anyway. Talk about what you know and you see because if you don’t advocate for your community, who will?
Having grown up in Hoots where anyone who has never lived in a Hoots (remember, this is a state of mind about rural Tennessee) there has always been the issue of a rural vs. urban divide. I believe a lot of this has to do with in many places in this state there isn’t local Tennessee news on television due to proximity. In Northwest Tennessee, if a family is getting certain satellite packages, local news may be coming out of Paducah, Sikeston or Cape Girardeau so local news comes out of three border states that aren’t Tennessee. The way I see it is that Urban America and Rural America both play an important part of driving the economy and although they are different, many issues are very similar.
One challenge though for rural Tennesseans is the lack of television news which I have pontificated before about. Also remember, there are patches of areas around this state that still do not have broadband.
So national news plays a large piece of the media pie as does radio talkies like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. The Tennessean and the Commercial Appeal only goes so far in an eastward and westward direction. The Jackson Sun has the area but with the economic landscape being so dire in certain pockets of rural America many newspapers have lost subscribers. If it’s between buying a ham for the family or buying the daily deadwood, what do you think most people are going to invest in?
The reason I’m bringing this up is that yesterday I met with Rep. Jim Cooper and several other online scribes in Nashville. I agree with Betsy that I rather like Cooper’s exuberant geekiness about policy and I thought he was rather upfront about SOPA, how Congress has turned into a more Parliament environment without the perks of actually being a Parliament and that the news is not necessarily positive coming out of Washington.
Congress is at the moment functioning like a Parliament, but without the checks and balances of a parliamentary system. There’s so much voting along strict party lines that Congress is actually being run according to the will of a minority of Republicans (though, in the recent past it has been run by a small minority of Democrats) because there are effective mechanisms in place to keep people from voting against their party.
It was kind of depressing, actually. Ha ha ha. But Cooper seems invigorated by changes in how vocal and engaged regular people are and can be with the political system. And I’ve been thinking about that, too. About whether the push for corporate funding for elections isn’t a direct response to discomfort with the ever-louder voice of the people–like let’s get back to just a small few of us being the ones whose needs need to be considered here.
The one thing that resonated with me was talking about what I discussed above as well. Political junkies will actively seek out information. If you notice, much of the time I write about state issues and not national ones. I truly am in the camp that all politics are local. Cooper discussed political messaging and narrative when I asked him about it and I mentioned about getting the message out. I think he and I agree that we do become fragmented at times as progressives. The Occupy movement did change the national medi dialogue which is important. I would love to be able to send Elizabeth Warren a check but I’d rather work on things here in the state I have a more concrete investment in. (Go Elizabeth GO!)
So I was thinking about urban and rural later in the day. Let’s look at the Tennessee Scenic Vista Act. Sen. Eric Stewart, who has a rural district, and Sen. Beverly Marrero, who is smack dab in Shelby County, both have been strong supporters of this state bill. Clean water, banning fracking and other issues are important to both rural and urban areas, as an example. We can work together in both environments so our lands are available for the next generation. Campaign reform (come on people, corporations are not people) is a resonating message. People want to be able to go home at night and feel financially stable, so jobs are important and we all need to be talking about.
And having conversations with our elected leaders is crucial, whether it is a congressman such as Jim Cooper or a local alderman. National news is important but local and state news affects you more immediately.
The challenges are there and should be addressed. Giving advice or having a cup of coffee with someone you may or may not disagree with is important. A meme went around a while back that said “Speak the truth even if your voice shakes.”
And talk about what you know and what impacts your community.