By Mary Baker
CFFS National Training Director
I considered mores to be one of the great general causes responsible for the maintenance of a democratic republic…the term “mores” …meaning…habits of the heart. ~Alexis de Tocqueville
The Case for Direct Action.
A democracy in the form of a Constitutional Republic is a system of government in which the powers of sovereignty are vested in and exercised by the People, either directly or through representatives chosen by the People, to whom those powers are specially delegated. It is a form of Self-Government wherein the People have the power and grant authority to the elected to govern on their behalf.
Citizens in a Constitutional Republic have two functions which include the acceptance of the authority of the state and at the same time challenging standards and conventions, as needed. Healthy democracies stress the importance of state sovereignty, rule of law, AND self-government.
The characteristics of a citizen can be divided into “dutiful” and “engaged.” Dutiful citizens operate in a limited model of activism because their actions reinforce the existing political order and authority patterns. Their role, albeit important, is largely passive and supportive, and includes activities like voting, obeying laws, paying taxes, serving in the military, respecting authority and so on.
Engaged citizens, on the other hand, play a more direct and assertive role. They volunteer in civil society, generally have a greater awareness of current issues, and may challenge the status quo and political elites. These active citizens are deliberative and participatory; they hold a critical view of the government’s role and prioritize direct action. Both “types” of citizens are important to maintain a healthy self-government and an accountable representative government.
You Can Do Something!
To defend our Constitutional Republic, ALL citizens have a responsibility to do something. Doing nothing is not an option!
There are important and uncomfortable truths we must all face to move past the reasons why we avoid meaningful engagement in the public square. Review, consider, and address these truths honestly and intentionally, and then get to work on developing your Habit of the Heart activism.
- I am self-interested and ashamed to admit it.
- I do not place a priority on my civic obligations.
- I cannot place a priority on my civic obligations.
- I do not have enough knowledge to be engaged.
- I believe having/sharing knowledge without action is engagement.
- I do not know how to start or what to do.
- I do not want to be exposed/criticized.
- I am afraid and lack sufficient confidence to act.
- My silence is my tacit approval.
- I am intimidated by power.
Read through the answers to the following questions to start making a difference.
Why should I engage locally?
All federal regulations and statutes can be intercepted at the local level. When citizens engage, they are exercising their civic powers to direct and influence their local electorate, policies, the community, and social entourage. At the local level, you can change minds; you can tip the momentum in a different direction.
How do I identify local issues?
Pay attention to government business by reading meeting public agendas and minutes. Follow the issues and the outcomes of discussions and votes. Keep up with community issues by joining political and non-profit organizations and getting to know your neighbors.
What can I do?
Don’t stereotype all activism into one category. There are four measures of engagement that can help you categorize your activism: Civic, Electoral, Political, and Social. Expand you horizon and imagine the different ways you can participate and effect positive change.
How frequently should I get involved?
Gauge your involvement based on your time/effort and the results you seek. The most efficient way to participate and stay involved is to combine opportunities for engagement and civil political discourse with your daily, weekly, and monthly routines.
How do I start?
The most effective approach is to consider your own innate talents, learned skills, interests, and the time you can commit to your activism. By directing your energy and actions into areas that involve your abilities and passions, you can envision your success as well as your next steps. Can you Speak, Write, Film, Snap, Organize, Connect, Educate, Learn, Share, Influence, Contribute, Post, Host?
How do I get past my fears?
Simply put (but not simply done) you need to recognize and acknowledge your fears so you can rise above them. Train your mind to recognize any negative inner talk that keeps you paralyzed or causes you to overreact. Manage the inner chatter so you can push to action. Do not skip this step.
Now Is the Time.
Are you sensing your elected public servants are not representing your American values in either local, state, or federal levels of government and that our nation’s core systems are not working as they should? Are you observing rampant lawlessness, a non-elected administrative state running unbridled, and a culture that has abandoned common sense and discarded its exceptionalism?
If yes, your perception is revealing a country in distress; one that no longer upholds the virtues of a Constitutional Republic. The authority structure is out of balance and the People have abdicated their intrinsic power. It is time for the People—for you—to stand up and play a more direct and assertive role. Choose to engage in the system designed for this exact purpose: To give you a voice. The time is NOW to push out of your comfort zone and exercise your First Amendment rights.
Discover Citizens for Free Speech activism training at CitizensforFreeSpeech.org/be_a_citizen_ninja and find the way to sustained and effective activism—your new habit of the heart.