By Senator, Lena C. Taylor
Before we consider what lies ahead in the New Year, I think it is important to reflect on the triumphs and trials of the last year. It has been 47 years since the historic Voting Rights Act. Last year, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled the most restrictive Voter ID Law in the nation to be unconstitutional.
Wonderfully, Wisconsin broke records for voter turnout! In 2008, we elected the first African American President of the United States. In 2012, he was reelected to fight for us once again! Yes, we have made significant achievements, but 2012 presented us with new challenges (and some old ones) that we must overcome – the only way to do that is to recommitting to our democratic project of the United States.
Participating in democracy is for each of us our duty as a citizen. The United States are designed to be a government of the people.
The only way that can be accomplished is if every individual becomes a public citizen and a champion of democracy. The November elections brought both wins and losses to the Democratic Party; those losses will become all the more difficult as Republicans continue their launch on middle-class America. However, 2012 presents an opportunity and leaves no room for apathy in our communities. We need to take responsibility. We can be exceptional citizens, for these times are too important not to be taken seriously.
The question is, how to we support democracy and good citizenship? Of course, we need to continue to vote in every election. Just as importantly, we need to take a look around our neighborhoods and get involved. We need to be good neighbors. We need to give our time and service as well as our votes.
Ultimately, I believe that community involvement and voting are but two sides of the same coin. One cannot exist in earnestness without the other. Voting is community involvement, and community involvement is voting.
I encourage you to look forward to 2013 with optimism in your heart. With President Obama in the White House, we are already building a better future. The key to taking advantage of this extraordinary time is staying informed and getting involved.
Good citizenship is more than a New Year’s resolution, it is a full-time effort. It is a lifestyle. You and I can make a commitment to ourselves and our families. Now is the time to become more active in our community. More than anything, I hope this New Year brings to you many blessings and the ability to be the change you wish to see in the world.