Apr 25th 2018 | Posted in Mary Scott Nabers' Insights by Mary Scott Nabers

It’s harder to manage cities, counties and state governments today than it was in the past. In fact, government leadership is a grueling job and citizen input has never been more important than it is today.

Competition for global leadership, advancements in technology, population growth, health care systems and sustainability issues are just a few of the immediate problems that demand the attention of government leaders. Infrastructure, educational systems, cybersecurity, public safety – these issues are just as important and just as difficult to resolve. Yet, decisions being made daily related to all these issues will touch the lives of every U.S. citizen. And, many citizens are not involved at all with government leaders.

Because what happens in the halls of government buildings touches every individual and every American family, and because the stakes are extremely high, the most dangerous thing citizens can do is to ignore the process. Decisions being made at every jurisdictional level of government will impact America’s future. If citizens don’t stay very close to elected officials, it’s probable that their preferences will not prevail.  And, if elected officials are left to make their own decisions, democracy will ultimately fail. It requires citizen involvement.

People are busy with their own lives and it is almost impossible to monitor everything happening in government, but it is possible to get involved with some aspect of government. Citizens have much more influence than they realize. Elected officials react to what voters want provided they know how the people they represent feel about issues. Many things would change quickly if enough voters decided to interact regularly with elected representatives.

contact representative It’s easy to be exasperated with government, but there is great danger if citizens don’t stay involvedMost individuals don’t stop to think about how many people in government they could influence. Every voter has influence with council members, mayors, school board members and county judges and commissioners at the local level of government. The same voter has two or three people in Congress representing his or her interests. And, finally, all U.S. presidents are elected by individuals.

These government leaders solicit input and they all get reports daily on what is being communicated from voters and constituents. If individuals are not providing input, politicians are free to make their own decisions about all issues. And, when citizens stop communicating and involving themselves in government, elected leaders are influenced only by the parties that do communicate with them. Those parties often do not represent the wishes of the individuals who elected them.

An old saying goes something like this – “get into politics or get out of business.” A better mantra would be “get into politics or expect nothing from government.” American democracy is built on citizen involvement.

The world as we know it is changing rapidly. Governing is more difficult than ever before. Collaboration is difficult and too many individuals are fed up with politics. All of that spells trouble and unfortunately, as exasperated as citizens and taxpayers are, government leaders need them. The country needs collaboration. It will take citizen involvement to move America into the next century and maintain what citizens enjoy today.

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Mary Scott Nabers

As President and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., Mary Scott Nabers has decades of experience working in the public-private sector. A well-recognized expert in the P3 and government contracting fields, she is often asked to share her industry insights with top publications and through professional speaking engagements.