Democracy at work

Despite my usual cynical nature, I had a favorable brush with politics last night. I was up in my kid’s bedroom, getting her bathed and ready for bed, when the phone rang. When my hands are full of soaking wet toddler I don’t usually answer the phone, but for some reason I picked it up. To my surprise it was my Congressman—he was holding a phone conference with his constituents. I did not vote for this guy, and I’m pretty certain I never would, but he is my representative, so I joined the conference (by failing to hang up).

The district I live in is quite mixed. Economically it runs from moderately wealthy to not-doing-so-great. There are a huge number of home foreclosures, and people are losing auto industry-related jobs. Within a square mile of my house there is a Korean market, two Indian markets, a Halal butcher, a Kosher butcher, an Israeli restaurant, a Lebanese restaurant, a Chaldean market, a Jain Temple, two Synagogues—you get the idea.

The calls that came in were a mix. One of the things that politicians are usually good at is responding to individuals when given the opportunity. I’ve written to representatives on behalf of patients and gotten wonderful responses. Many calls were from people about to lose their homes, and the rep gave them contact numbers, etc. A few calls complained about illegal immigration, although I’m not sure why—Michigan had a hard time bringing in the crops last year, a folks from my area weren’t heading Up North to do field and orchard work.

Most of the calls were handled without the usual political lip service (most—not all). Some callers were clearly disturbed, and he handled them very well.

All in all, I was very impressed with the job my Congressman did communicating his ideas, even the ones I think are idiotic. I was even more impressed with the way he dealt with his constituents. He seemed to be in politics for all the right reasons (and, no, I don’t think I’m being credulous).

So, despite my dislike of this individual’s politics, I felt a renewed sense of optimism about American democracy. Plus, I got two loads of laundry folded and one poopy diaper changed while participating in my government. Woo-hoo!