Our government is a representative democracy, but that does not mean citizens cannot participate. I try to do what I can to participate in this form of government in several ways.
First, I obey the laws which have been laid out at the federal, state and local levels. Iím not saying that I never break the speed limit, but I understand that I can be penalized if I donít comply with the rules.
Second, I vote in all local and national elections. Who is on the school board and who is representing me in Nashville is as important to me as who is representing me in Washington.
Third, I read the local paper and national magazines and listen to radio and television news programs such as the debates in an attempt to understand complex issues and to attempt to understand viewpoints that are different from mine.
Fourth, I give my time and money to candidates who come the closest to representing my views. This past fall I gave money to a friend who was hoping to get elected to the state Legislature. We knew her chances of election were poor, but because of vigorous support, she made a respectable showing and forced the incumbent to campaign a little.
Fifth, from time to time I write a letter to Forum in the Johnson City Press to express my views on an issue. For example, I recently wrote in support of the healthy school lunch program, which my local congressman had voted against, much to my dismay. I donít run for office, give speeches or organize PACs, but in small ways, I believe I can and do participate in our democracy.
Judy Champney lives in Johnson City.