By Glenn Brunkow, Pottawatomie County farmer and rancher
It seems as though the news is full of headlines about nothing but bickering at all levels of government. I don’t know about you but at times I want to send them all to their corners until they can be civil to each other. Often, I hear from people that this discord and constant fighting are why they have no confidence in our leaders, and they think our government is broken.
I disagree with the notion that our government is broken. It has survived this long, and I would guess our ancestors saw this level of political bickering before. I do agree it is disheartening and downright irritating. The elected officials are in office to represent our best interests, not what many of us consider extreme political views. Do you know whose fault this is? Sure, some of the blame should be cast on the parties and elected officials but much of the blame for the disconnect between government and the people lies with us.
Yes, we have only ourselves to blame if we don’t like what is going on at any level of government and it doesn’t change. The only way real change can happen is if citizens become involved or engaged. That is why the Kansas Farm Bureau (KFB) along with diverse groups such as the Kansas League of Municipalities, Kansas Association of School Boards, and the Kansas Chamber to name just a few partners have launched Engaged Kansas.
This nonpartisan effort is meant to help citizens understand how government works and how to engage or become active in local bodies. The website, www.engagedkansas.org, states right off the bat it is for “building civic minded leaders.” There are different tabs that one can use to research what involvement at different levels such as school boards, city councils or county commissions would look like and what would be involved at each level.
It also has links to KFB’s Campaign School and the Kansas Leadership Center for more in-depth information. The website is a gateway or a starting point for those who want to make a difference and help guide how our government is run. Let’s also be honest, while Topeka and D.C. capture all the headlines, local government such as your school board and county commission have far more impact on your day-to-day life and tax bill. Local government at the most basic level is also where we can see the most change and make the most difference.
Who knows, after you get your feet wet at the local level you might be ready to move up and try to effect change at a higher level. That is what we need – more citizens to take an active interest in what happens at all levels of government. Then we will start to see our elected officials have their feet held to the proverbial fire, but it all starts at the most local levels and that happens when citizens become engaged. Take an interest, get involved, after all it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
“Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.