The Goodwill Industries International government relations office is a couple of blocks away from the Capitol. As such, I’ve been able to watch the inauguration preparations unfold. As we advance Goodwill’s public policy agenda, we’ve been communicating with transition teams, following the confirmation hearings on the President-Elect’s nominees, and are preparing to meet with a number of freshman lawmakers. At the same time, we’ve reflected on successful engagement with the previous Congress and attended some final stakeholder convenings with the current administration.
The United States is entering an interesting time of transition, and while watching President Obama’s farewell address, I was struck by his plea for people to continue to be engaged. He stressed that democracy needs people to be engaged. We should take action, we should organize, we should have discussions with people and open our minds to a variety of news sources and opinions.
Your voice, your time, your energy, your passion – are all valuable to democracy. I’ve been thinking a lot about civic engagement and what motivates people and drives them to take action. The presidential election invoked a lot of emotion from voters across both sides of the aisle and everywhere in between. Pundits have dubbed it the “rejection election” given that many were voting out of a feeling that the government has failed them and that they were looking for a change.
Regardless of what you may think about the outcome, one can say that democracy worked. People used their voice, and their voices were heard. We also saw this scenario play out in the start of the 115th Congress as leaders were discussing The Office of Congressional Ethics and as confirmation hearings are being held for cabinet nominees. Members of Congress spoke about the number of phone calls and emails that flooded their office.
Civic engagement does not just occur at the federal level, nor is it only about supporting or opposing a candidate. The concept also revolves around the local, county and state level or around specific issues.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be launching Goodwill’s public policy agenda for the 115th Congress and providing information about issues that we care about –those that impact local Goodwill organizations and the people we serve. There will be plenty of ways in which you can participate. In the meantime, tell us what motivates you. How do you participate in civic engagement? What issues are you passionate about and why? Contact us on Twitter via @GoodwillCapHill and use #GoodwillEngage or enter your comments in the section below.