Op Ed from Rep. Jason Dawkins (D-Philadelphia)

Rise up and take action!

The 2016 election cycle proved to be a bitter, hard-fought battle with surprising results to many. After such a conclusion, it is only natural to feel discouraged or depressed. It is tempting to react by retreating from the constant news coverage and choosing to remain willfully ignorant of the nation’s new political realities. However, I strongly urge that anyone who has been feeling hopeless with recent events treat this past election and first weeks of this new administration as a rallying cry to action. Any sadness and frustration with America’s political system is the finest motivation to fight for change, justice and increased accountability for all.

While we may feel disappointed in our nation’s electoral surrogates for not fulfilling our founder’s vision, it is critical to keep a sense of perspective. America’s democracy has withstood countless tests of its integrity including wars, secession threats and political upheaval. The values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, so crucial to our nation’s founding, are too fundamentally ingrained in America’s fabric to be taken away by the results of a single election.

As Americans, we are still the beneficiaries of the greatest nation. Even if it feels as though we have been kicked – we have been kicked before. Even if it feels as though we are down – we have been down before. We have always overcome these challenges to emerge as a stronger nation, so this time will be no different.
This is the time to draft battle plans for the coming years. Mid-term elections will be crucial, so it is never too early to organize communities and mobilize people for action, as strength in numbers encourages political clout. In addition to looking toward the future, we need to work to hold our leaders’ feet to the fire as we work to implement policies.

Whoever is in office, regardless of party, must be held accountable for their promises and actions. As a state representative, I strive to ensure that my actions in Harrisburg reflect the will of my constituents.

Do not despair for America’s democracy. Instead, aspire to organize, keep abreast of current events and hold our elected officials accountable. More than ever before, it is crucial to remain politically engaged. Hope for a better future starts with you.

State Rep. Jason Dawkins represents the 179th Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.