All citizens — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents — need to work together to fix our broken political system. This was the message delivered by Francie Hunt of Represent.us to the Democratic Women’s Club of Marco (DWCM) members and guests. Ms. Hunt, introduced by Chris Chase, told of living 16 years abroad and upon returning being horrified at the corruption and dysfunction in American politics. Ms. Hunt stated, “Most people, regardless of their party affiliation, feel that their government is not working for them. They think that our political system is broken. And, it is.”
Retiring to Naples in 2014, she began to work with Represent.us, a national organization that is working to: Fix our broken elections; Stop political bribery; and End the secret money in politics. Represent.us has been active locally for a year and a half getting petitions signed regarding ethics issues in the Naples government and was able to get a petition on the ballot to improve ethics guidelines in Collier County which is now tied up in the courts.
Ms. Hunt showed a video that is designed to promote discussion among people of different party affiliations. If you wish to see the video, narrated by Jennifer Lawrence, you can go to www.represent.us website. This non-partisan, 12-minute video shows how we can work together, across the political aisle, to work with cities and states to pass the Anti-Corruption Act. Statistics show that once the number of states which pass an Act, it reaches a tipping point that triggers Federal laws. This has already happened with issues such as inter-racial marriage, a woman’s right to choose, etc. States pass the laws first. Then, the Federal Government follows.
The film showed that no matter how many voters support an issue, it only has a 30% chance to pass state legislatures or the U.S. Congress. A lot of the problem is that Congressmen spend 70% of their time raising funds for their next election. Only .05% of Americans donate $1,000,000 to them. Congressmen listen to their large donors. In other words, “We the People,” have very little influence over our government. For example, six months ago, 71% of Florida voters voted to allow medical marijuana. And, a large majority voted to restore voting rights to felons. The legislature has yet to pass these laws. And, with gerrymandering still allowed, the situation gets worse.
The group Represent.us is working to change that by getting people of all political parties together on the principle that if we all work together, little changes happen. And, little changes can lead to bigger ones. Our political system can be fixed.
The second speaker was clinical psychologist, Nina Tomaino. She spoke about effecting change by being a good listener and listed seven key active listening skills that we can use such as asking open-ended questions, “tell me more,” be attuned to and give verbal feedback.
Dr. Tomaino maintained that if we observe the seven keys to active listening, we can have productive political discussions and find areas where both can agree. To illustrate her point, two of the 24 participants held a mock conversation following the guidelines. The results proved Dr. Tomaino’s point.
There will be no meeting of the DWCM in July.
Meetings will resume on August 13th. The speaker will be Florida State Senator Kathleen Passidomo. Participants are encouraged to come prepared with questions regarding her legislative positions.