How To Hold Your Representative Accountable
With power comes responsibility
With new and sustained power comes responsibility. For those who are newly elected into office, this includes living up to campaign promises and fulfilling the needs of constituents. However, there often is a pattern in which these newly elected officials become so engrossed in the political structure, they participate in behind-closed-doors antics that dissolve their public presentation and firmness on political beliefs.
Because it seems like a majority of those officials who feign and perform activism as a means of political advancement seldom see consequences, newly elected politicians have been given more freedom to aim personal motives over their initial proposed solutions for people’s problems. When this disillusionment occurs, we the people must provide a level of accountability to politicians that doesn’t require reliance on government institutions, in order to show them who they are supposed to serve.
Here’s how you can keep the politicians you voted for in check throughout their terms in office.
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1. Follow their current actions to see if they’re keeping up with the political stances and promises they put forth while running for office.
What politicians stood for during their campaigns tends to be forgotten once they are elected into office. By keeping tabs on their political actions, your surveillance can underscore their liability for any apparent discrepancies between what they said during their campaign run and they do during their political term. Integrity is key, especially when votes on important issues are in their hands and have a huge impact on individual lives.
To look specifically at how they are voting, you can use voting technology apps and websites that provide records of politicians' voting history, like VoteSmart.org. You can also stay informed about specific politicians by following their social media accounts, subscribing to their newsletters and staying updated through news and press releases.
2. Recognize if they are participating in performance activism and make known that it will not be tolerated.
Often, we take a politician’s brand for who they are instead of looking at their political actions. Distinguish the brand from their political actions by looking for the facts in what they are saying. If they talked about abolishing I.C.E. as a candidate but then voted to give more money to fund I.C.E as an elected official, then their activism is more about performance and less about producing actual change. Keep up to date with their political decisions, and offer feedback when they are catering more to their funders and political parties then making a genuine effort to put the people’s needs first.
3. When it comes to politicians, you control their social capital.
Politicians live for your view of them, because it acts as currency toward their reputation and public image. That currency can be turned in, when it comes to needing your votes for re-election or any other political opportunities that may require your direct participation. Even though they are the ones in power, politicians are aware that their future is held in our thoughts and perception of them. If a politician isn’t doing the work needed for political change, gather a round of folks who feel the same, and use your collective voice to express your disapproval in addition to withdrawing of support.
4. Contact politicians on a regular basis with a list of demands and concerns you want them to address and represent.
Consistency is not only important in establishing a relationship with these officials, it also shows the elected officials that you’re not going anywhere without seeing some change. One thing that makes it easy for some politicians to get away with doing whatever they want with their positions is the belief that most of their constituents will not have the opportunity to confront them directly. Some of their power leans on the likelihood that they won't have to confront and grapple with the repercussions of their actions by those who elected them into office. If they do face any accountability, it typically doesn't occur until their term limit is up. Take back control by setting aside time to put pressure on politicians to make decisions that will benefit the people and their needs.
Politicians were put in power by the people, and their purpose is to serve the people. Providing them with accountability reminds them that they are there for a specific purpose, because they are responsible for the lives of their constituents. Our presence in the political process can come from keeping tabs on them, and making our voices heard when they pander more to their own personal and political gain rather than focusing on fulfilling the duties of their positions.