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“What can I do about child separation at the border?”

Here’s what I know for sure. Merely complaining about it online without taking direct action is a waste of time. Trust me, I’ve done it way more than you have.

I see this all the time on Nextdoor, someone complains about ____ but when I ask what actions they’ve taken, they haven’t taken any, they seem to think that “someone” will see their complaint and do something.

That’s not how it works. You’re just farting in the mall. Sure, someone might smell it but they don’t know where it’s coming from.

We live in a representative government and your elected officials are paid to listen to you. Contacting them is your right & responsibility. Whether or not you voted for them, like them, whether they like you, agree with you politically, or whether or not they seem approachable means absolutely nothing.

They are paid to listen to you.

You pay them to listen to you and work on the things that are important to you.

They work for you.

Maybe you need to say it out loud? “You work for me.” That feels good to say, right? It’s 100% true. Your tax dollars pay their salary.

Whether it’s a member of your town council, a school board member, your mayor, or member of Congress: They work for you.

You are one of their bosses and not the other way around.

Think of them as your employee. Speak to them respectfully, politely ask them for their time, contact them in a way that they prefer, and speak with them about what you care about. They will listen, they have to listen, because they know they work for you whether you voted for them or not.

Adam’s Rule #1 of Effecting Change: You must be present to win

Show up. That’s all you have to do. Show up.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown up to a public meeting with an elected official and I’ve been either the only one or it’s the same 3-4 people at every meeting. The meeting might impact a million people but 3-4 people show up. IT’S INSANE! 6-8 public officials running a meeting to vote on official business and a small handful of people there for public input. Last Tuesday, I presented at a public meeting and no one from the public attended! Do the math… showing up is how you win. It’s like high school gym. Want an A? Just show up in proper attire.

Want your issue talked about? Want to see change. SHOW THE HECK UP. If you’re the only member of the public they’ll probably even let you put something on the agenda.

Literally, showing up is 90% of making change.

If you see an opportunity to meet your elected official do so. Yes, sometimes you might have to wait in line before or after a meeting to shake their hand, introduce yourself, my goal is that every elected official that represents me should know who I am. When you shake their hand say, “I’m ________, I live in _________, and I emailed you about _____”. They’ll know who you are. I promise.

I also promise you that if you show up to 2-3 meetings they’ll know who you are because it’s so rare. Even a large federal office, show up in person to a public meeting or their office hours or *gasp* make an appointment to follow up on the email/phone call, I 100% guarantee you that they’ll listen to you and take action simply because they have to.

If it’s a large office (citywide, countywide, House of Representatives) they will have a staff member assigned to represent your area. Get to know that person. They work directly for your elected officials, things that you say to them will be said directly to that person.

Get to know your elected officials. Get involved. Show up.

By Adam McLane

Adam McLane is a partner at The Youth Cartel, co-author of A Parent's Guide to Understanding Social Media, blogger of 10+ years, and a fan of all things San Diego State University Aztecs.

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