We the people of the State of Oregon to the end that Justice be established, order maintained, and liberty perpetuated, do ordain this Constitution.
— Constitution of the State of Oregon
Democracy is government by the people, but it can be easy to lose sight of how big and powerful the people are, especially when we’re far apart. Voting is often a solitary affair, and tally marks on election results don’t always feel like people joining together. Many people feel disconnected not just from their government, but from the community around them. They feel that they are just one person up against a system. But it doesn’t have to be that way--you can take away that isolation, and show people that they are part of a community who can change the system.
The problem is, “traditional” democracy isn’t always available to everyone. Even the simplest forms of democracy are denied to many. ID laws keep people from registering to vote. Homelessness turns getting a ballot into an impossibility. The education system does not give students everything they need to succeed as citizens. The two-party system ignores alternative options. Corruption and complacency betray the public’s trust of institutions. It’s easy to see why someone would feel powerless up against all that. But people feel less powerless when they are together. Being part of a community of people who are all fighting for the same thing makes the fight seem not only worthwhile, but winnable.
Put simply, government is better when everyone’s voices are heard. That’s where community leaders come in. You can serve as a reminder that the citizens are plentiful and powerful, and that they will not be silenced. And if one door is closed, open another. Find a way to make democracy available to everyone. Show people that they matter, and that when we the people work together, we are the government.
So get out there--establish some justice. Maintain some order. Perpetuate some liberty. Your community is counting on you!