When your state lawmaker becomes your heroic champion, your odds of beating the three-headed hydras vastly improve
“HEROES VS HYDRAS” SERIES
This fifteen-part series introduces you to the heroic partners you and your community will require to survive and thrive during pandemics and economic disruptions. The articles also provide tips on avoiding the three-headed hydras of apathy, envy and fear, those people in positions of power who are fighting to keep a broken status quo.
State lawmakers are positioned perfectly to support local innovation to ensure health, education and economic stability.
Your State Senators and Representatives
Superman? Wonder Woman? Compared to state lawmakers, they’re wimps. Never underestimate the power of a state senator or representative. Like the governor and his or her appointed leaders of every vital state agency, state lawmakers can make or break a plan to help children, families and all community members. Certain state houses are trapped in a cycle of dysfunction, lacking bipartisan support to help anyone, while others have innovators who work the system to produce policies that empower all residents. State lawmakers can be superheroes.
As you explore how state government works, you may begin to see how the state system is set up with positive and negative attributes, and why some policies get prioritized while others do not. State politics is very complicated stuff and not for the faint of heart.
Amid a pandemic and economic free fall, we are living in a new era of challenges that present very new opportunities. It is here we offer a quote about having ideas to pitch in times of change by the economist Milton Friedman.
“Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.”
I offer Friedman’s thinking because I believe he’s hit the nail on the head with this insight. Our lives have become a series of crises over the last four decades, as we lurched from AIDS, to 9/11, to an economic meltdown to COVID-19. Today, we stand at a crossroad with the opportunity to reimagine how state government works and how it can serve its residents. In this process, the main players are your state lawmakers.
Buckle your seat belts as crisis produces the capacity for progress
I could write a book about how heroic state lawmakers can be powerful advocates for change, committed to addressing a crisis. With persistence, creativity, being in the right place at the right time and with the right visionary lawmakers, powerful change is possible when collaborating with a state senator and representative. On both sides of the political aisle, there are big-picture-thinking elected officials who seek to ensure the safety and prosperity of the state’s residents.
How do I meet with a state lawmaker?
It may come as a surprise that your state senators and representatives are, for the most part, accessible. They are public servants who understand the importance of connecting with residents, who are after all constituents — and they also want to get reelected. You have a vote, so they want you to like them. So reach out with earnestness and respect to share the goals of your initiative. From there, see if your issues align with the lawmaker’s issues.
Given how many timely topic areas (job training, education, health care, food security, economic development, ending the digital divide, etc.) your goal of ensuring services for surviving and thriving covers, the odds are good you may find common ground with your state senators and representatives.
It has taken me half a decade, starting with working two floors down in a dimly lit government basement office, to move from a heart-breaking child fatality, to a book, to a state senate bill and finally to funding an organization that can support transformative work in each county of the state. That evolution was only possible because of a dedicated partner, brave collaborators, perseverance in the face of unrelenting adversity, and connections with visionary state leaders. (I won’t even go into the slam down, drag out fights with three-headed hydras that I nearly lost.) The lesson should be clear to all, trust your inner sense of social justice, commit to change and don’t stop.
You have powerful and caring allies
Your state lawmakers can be game changers and support urgently needed innovation. When it comes to setting the standard for a state’s health, safety, education, and emergency readiness and recovery, it is the state government, not the federal government, that is in control. For this reason, stake lawmakers will have an even more important role to play in a post-pandemic world.
The future is what we make it. Join the evolution.
Please excuse any typos as I construct an article at 3am on only one cup of Joe. These stories are mine and mine alone. I do not represent any organization here. If one of my illustrations looks like a real human or three-headed hydra, that’s total coincidence. Words and images ©Dominic Cappello but share with everyone you know. Any questions? The future awaits: www.tenvitalservices.org