Progressive activists are calling their elected officials in record numbers. That’s the good news.
The not-so-good news? A lack of understanding about civics, or perhaps even frustration, is leading many of them to call the wrong elected officials.
It’s important to understand what state governments do and do not do, and what the federal government does and does not do. In general, people are more familiar with activity on the federal level, including the Muslim ban, all the antics of Trump, actions on the U.S. Supreme Court, etc.
State government, on the other hand, determines the state budget, oversees the state public school system, and fixes (or doesn’t) the roads, among other things.
As has been noted here, many people are having trouble getting through to their U.S. representative and Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters. So it’s perhaps understandable that they might turn to their state legislator to get their voice heard.
And that’s acceptable. It isn’t, however, effective. A state representative might share your deep concern about what Trump is doing, or bills before Congress. But they can’t vote on those bills or do much about Trump directly.
“People are fired up,” said (state legislative staffer to state Rep. Tom Cochran Joe) Fedewa. “They want to reach out to an elected official, but sometimes there is nothing we can do and nothing my boss can do. It can be frustrating, but at least you’re hearing their concerns and hearing what is important to them.”
According to Fedewa, his office is hearing most from people opposed to U.S. Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos. But state Sen. Rick Jones (R-24th District) says people are calling up scared silly over terrorism.
“What I’m hearing about more than anything right now is terrorism,” said Jones. “How could Lansing even consider being a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants. We just had this horrible attack with the machete at the Louvre. That’s what people are talking about today. We don’t want terrorists to come here. We support the president and trying to make sure everyone is properly vetted before they get in this country.”
So to sum up: Call your federal legislators about federal issues, and your state legislators about state issues. State legislators will listen to your federal concerns, but can’t do much about them. And call Sen. Jones and tell him to grow a spine over “terrorism” and realized that 5-year-olds and grandpas in wheelchairs aren’t a threat.