We The People
Last night I attended my very first Precinct Caucus. It was interesting and enlightening and I learned a lot. I learned that I am not as smart, or as independent minded as I thought I was.
For most of my life I was never really interested in politics. Government was something you learned about in school, and then quickly forgot as soon as you passed the exam. Growing up I listened to the adults around me discuss what was happening in the world. I watched politicians come and go, and came to the conclusion that if you were in politics, you were probably a power hungry person, willing to say anything to be elected and that once you’d won, resorted to all kinds of shenanigans, while promptly forgetting everything that you’d promised to the very people who had voted you in. I soon adopted the same self-righteous indignation a lot of people have who sit on the side lines, complaining about their politicians, but never really doing anything about it because, well, that’s just the way it is, right?
My husband has been in love with the world of politics for ever. He always told me that it was so important because it takes everyone to make a difference. I’d tell him fine, you go make a difference, I’ll be home cheering you on. That was until 3 years ago. The day when I was personally inconvenienced by the laws that politicians had decided to pass. Yes, it’s pretty sad. We’re all sideline politicians until something directly impacts us and we can no longer sit back and criticize. It’s a shame that unless something touches us directly, we really don’t care.
That was the day a phone call to the Department of Health made me aware that it is illegal for me to sell the cakes and cookies that I so love to bake and share with others, from my home. I never knew that such a law existed. People do it all the time. They are all breaking the law and can be severely fined and even jailed for selling a simple birthday cake to Tim next door. My first thought was, you have got to be kidding. It’s bad enough you can’t send cupcakes to school with your kids any more! When did this law pass? Who passed it and why? It’s so crazy!!
I was so crushed. I had hoped that I had finally found a way to have a small part of my dream of baking, to combine my profession with what I love to do. I called my husband, and yes there were some tears. He said, “Well, you’re not going to like it but now’s the time for you to take action and change the law.” Really? How do I do that? He said, you write letters, you get supporters, and you work to get it changed. It’ll take time and patience but if enough people are involved, sooner or later, you’ll get it done.
So, I began my campaign. I wrote letters and since that day have written many, many of them. Some to senators, representatives, newspapers, TV channels, and anyone else that I thought might be able to help. I researched and discovered there are several states that have been involved in the same battle to change the cottage food law, and that many had already won. I discovered that there are many home bakers in Minnesota, just like me who want to simply sell a cake from their door. I’ve found that there are other people who are willing to step up to the plate and work hard to get this law changed. We have a face book page, and a twitter account, and a word press blog. We have two petitions, with lot’s of signatures, and we have politicians who have really stepped up to help us.
Which brings me back to the beginning of this article. The part where I said that I am not as smart or as independent minded as I thought I was. I was not smart to judge all politicians the same way. Sure some are real jerks, but there are many who really care about the people. I know because I have met them and watched them for 3 years now. I am not independent minded, because I was no different than everyone else who just sits back and lets things happen.
While I looked around me at the towns people who had braved the brutal cold to attend the caucus last night, I realized a few things. There are a lot of amazing people who really care about the future of America. But there are not enough of them. The school super-intendant of the town stood up to explain to people attending a caucus for the first time, exactly what it means to be there. He spoke clearly and eloquently, and for the first time I realized how important it is for each person in a community to be involved. This is where it all begins. This is where we the people, control the outcome. Not on election day, although that’s important also, but it’s at the caucus. It’s now when we get to decide who will be on those ballots when the time comes. It’s not enough to sit back and yell at the TV. It’s not enough to just accept that all politicians are corrupt so whatever will be, will be. It’s up to us to make sure those guys never get that far and that the good guys are there to lead us.
We The People can make a difference and until we do, whatever ideals you believe in, will mean nothing until you make a stand.