“If you’re not willing to stand up for what you care about, others will control the agenda.”
– Rusty Foley, executive director, Arizona Citizens for the Arts, in a Phoenix New Times article about the absence of arts funding in the state budget
But Rusty’s call for civic engagement applies to so much more than arts funding.
Legislative and executive policymakers have been in conflict with what Arizonans say they want for a long time. That disconnect is traced in part to poor voting habits that ultimately lead to ideological representation that is not reflective of the priorities of most Arizonans.
By now, we should see clearly that failure to hold elected officials accountable by making our voices heard at the polls and through active civic engagement between elections yields counterproductive policies on education, transportation infrastructure, water security, healthcare/KidsCare, energy and tax policy. We shouldn’t be surprised by what happens to Arizona if the pattern of civic disengagement continues.
The beauty of our form of representative government is that everyone has the opportunity to create the mosaic of laws and policies that speak to the times and shape the future. We, the people, are the artists. Government looks best and works best with active citizen participation.
Stand up for what you care about before the opportunity to pursue common goals to improve Arizona is gone for good.