I am NOT a “Political Person”
By Jake Fitisemanu, Jr. – West Valley City, Utah
When my dad left Samoa there was no such thing as universal suffrage, so when he became a US citizen he took his civic duty to vote as seriously as his family, faith, and career.
But I am not a “political person.”
I work a nine-to-five job, I do the dishes and take out the trash, and I enjoy my wife’s cooking.
I am definitely not a “political person.”
I usually pay my mortgage and bills on time, I take my daughter to the bus stop, and I have four chickens in my backyard.
I am 100% sure I’m not a “political person.”
I walk to the corner store and see that a few street lights are burned out. I notice some streets around here don’t even have sidewalks.
I hope some “political person” fixes all that.
I curse on my way to church as I swerve to avoid yet another pothole. I can’t believe they’re developing that piece of land when it would be a perfect site for a public playground.
I bet a “political person” could have done something about that.
I want to be more involved in my daughter’s education. I hope our neighborhood watch patrol isn’t racially profiling our own neighbors. I went to a city council meeting last week.
I wonder if a “political person” would do this kind of stuff too.
I register to vote and I know where our polling place is. I attend our neighborhood caucus and I’ve even corresponded with my congresswoman.
Am I a “political person”?
I now realize that everything around me involves politics… from small businesses and potholes, to law enforcement and sidewalks… from city parks and freedom of religion, to street lights and property taxes… from my daughter’s Kindergarten curriculum to the painted crosswalks she passes on her way to the bus stop… from my Netflix subscription to how many chickens I can own within city limits.
I now see that every facet of our daily lives is impacted by political decisions being made at federal, state, county, and local levels. I now understand that if we don’t speak up then we leave all the decision-making up to people we barely know, to career politicians, paid lobbyists, self-interested bureaucrats, and big industry bosses.
I am involved, informed, engaged… but still not a “political person.”
We can all have a voice in the decisions and policies that impact how we live, how our taxes are spent, the environment our kids are growing up in. We can make a difference. We can honor the sacrifice of our parents and grandparents who brought us here, not just to be passive recipients, but proactive participants in the American dream. We have to stop worrying about being “political” and work on becoming involved, informed, and engaged.
I am not a “political person”… and I don’t have to be to make a difference.
Jake Fitisemanu was born in New Zealand and grew up in Hawai’i and Utah. A graduate of Westminster College, Jake is the chair of the Utah Pacific Islander Health Coalition and the manager of the UDOH Health Clinics of Utah. He credits his strong sense of civic duty to his parents, who have exercised their right to vote in every election since moving to the USA. Jake lives with his wife and two daughters in West Valley City.
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