Tim Brown

Blueprint For Citizenship

Following up on the introductory note in my last post about politics, I thought of one way I would like to become more responsible as a citizen. It’s something I’ve had in mind for a while, and something that will take a lot of time, but I’d like to start.

I admire President Obama for a number of reasons, but one early thing that he did really stuck with me in particular. He shared The Blueprint For Change, a written account of various issues and his position on each one.

Here’s my plan

I’d like to make my own blueprint. A “Blueprint For Citizenship”. Because when I read the news, I have feelings — but I rarely do anything about those feelings. I never bother to articulate them. I just go back to my own work, my own life. That doesn’t feel like good citizenship.

To sprinkle a bit of typography in here, Jan Tschichold wrote:

Feelings remain rather unproductive unless they can inspire a secure judgment. Feelings have to mature into knowledge about the consequences of [decisions].

Voting, and arguing about politics, based on feelings is immature. I would rather vote using knowledge about the consequences of putting certain individuals in charge to represent me.

So I got started today by visiting this page at WhiteHouse.gov about state and local government. I found two kinds of things on that page that are going to help me with my personal Blueprint.

First, mixed into the text, I found a variety of government institutions and positions mentioned (lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, auditors, commissioners, senate, assembly, etc.). I’m going to learn more about these, and specifically the ones in my own community.

Secondly, in the footer of the page there’s a list of issues (which can also be found here). I’m going to use this list, as well as President Obama’s original Blueprint, to come up with my own list of issues, so that I can gradually articulate my position on each one.

It’s embarrassing to admit that I have been an irresponsible citizen. I wish that I had paid more attention in school, and in scouts. Community stuff always bored me. I didn’t realize how much my attention mattered. But I want to be better. Owning my shortcomings is a good first step, and if I can encourage others by sharing these ideas about how I’m trying to change — even better.