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Guest column | Jack Levine

Don't just observe politics; participate

Whether you're feeling exuberantly celebratory or sadly shell-shocked from the results of the Nov. 4 election, I think you'll agree with me that it's time to unify and pledge to work together across the political spectrum to create a positive future.

I've been through many victories and disappointments while observing politics for most of my life, but I hold to my belief that all candidates deserve to be honored for their willingness to run for office.

How few among us are courageous enough to step across the line and commit to being a candidate! Representative democracy depends upon those who consider elective public service an important expression of leadership. While I might disagree with some of their policies, I never forget to thank them for their willingness to serve.

While some of us take the step of congratulating the victors, how many of us send messages to those who were defeated — this time around? I urge you to let those who did not win know that their effort is appreciated. Please remember that many candidates do choose to run again, and today's loser might well be a winner in the future.

Every election is a multiple choice test. The candidates are the focus of attention, of course, but what amazes me is how many qualified voters choose to let others make the decisions. To me, not voting is the most inexcusable act of neglect in a democracy.

One ideal for all of us to strive for, no matter our political leanings, is to inspire greater participation in our process of government at all levels. Informed voting is one step, but keeping in touch with our public officials is a key to effective advocacy. Winning an election is only the first step in public service. Acting to bring positive change is the job description for all of us, and each of us is obligated to be vocal advocates for the policies and programs we believe need attention.

Anonymity is the antithesis of effectiveness in a democracy. Knowing our elected officials, and having them know us, is our obligation and greatest opportunity to exercise influence. There are strategies to develop, skills to hone and plans of action to be implemented. We have work to do and challenges to face.

As an advocate, I'm dedicated to assist those whose mission is creating better policies and more accessible programs to meet the needs of those who count on us across the generations. With the challenges many face in economic and emotional terms, now seems to be the time for creative approaches and cooperative activities.

Jack Levine is founder of the 4Generations Institute in Tallahassee. His e-mail address is

Don't just observe politics; participate 11/17/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 3:12pm]
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