Yeah, so at the suggestion of my good mother, I sent off a version of one of my blog posts here to a number of places--and they actually let me on the radio. It was cool, sitting in front of the professional mike with a crazy computer screen showing the audio recording, all that stuff. It was for the local NPR station where my parents live, in Harrisonburg, VA; what's also neat is that it was the same radio station that plays in my hometown, Staunton, VA (along with Charlottesville and some other areas), so I was able to speak pretty frankly about my political perspective to some of the people in the region I grew up. It was for a little something WMRA, the local radio station, calls "Civic Soapbox," where they air short pieces from listeners; on the main webpage for the program they explain some of what they're aiming for with it (and being one who thinks that civic engagement has, as I actually mention in the piece, sadly declined, I love the concept):
"Is there a subject about which you feel strongly? Would you like to add your voice to the other voices heard on public radio? If so, how about writing three and a half minutes worth of your thoughts on that subject and sending them to us? Civil, community-based discourse is an important aspect of the democratic process."
You can actually check out the two pieces my mom has done for the program over the last year or so here and here--they rock, just like my motha. I wrote about her more recent one in this post at the time. With mine though, here you go, it's just a quick piece, but anyone interested can listen to the final audio of me reading it, as it was aired, here. I also pasted the text below. The piece is called "First Principles":
At 27, and having had an unfortunately late entrance into civic life (around three years ago), it's been healthy to feel out my thoughts this past year on politics and politicians, government in general and the issues in particular. As I now weigh my thoughts at the beginning of a new year, I find myself coming back to first principles.
One, I believe, is that a society has a fundamental duty to help the most vulnerable—to "promote the general welfare," as our Constitution puts it. Our general welfare has declined―through unregulated mortgages, a preemptive war that drew in many of our most vulnerable, an economy and tax system tilted towards the wealthy, and a health care system that multiplies in cost, seemingly without end.
The people allowed it. So many of us allowed it. As Plato put it, albeit slightly harsher than I would in this case, "The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." Finally, with this election, we have once again shown that it is appropriate to gather together to promote the general welfare through sensible governance and civic engagement.
It didn't happen magically though—our coming President drew it out of us. While many of us know too well where we are not, either personally or as a country, Barack Obama talked to us about where we can be. "Yes we can," he spoke into our collective memory—not just as a vision of how to win an election, but of something much more lasting: of how to make a people realize they can rebuild their country if they decide to.
So, in my view, our President-Elect has brought to us first principles: simple, even modest ideas of returning this country to the many hands of its people; prodding us to get our hands dirty as we build and develop; calling us to reach down for the most vulnerable and balance out the playing field. It’s all very sensible, down to the specifics–a health care system that anyone can afford; infrastructure and alternative energy projects for new jobs and a more stable country; diplomacy for a more humane foreign policy.
Everyone will stand deceived though, including Mr. Obama, if we put this on his shoulders alone. He is singular, one American, and appears to realize how important it is that we start thinking about things in the plural—to "enlarge our sense of we,” as social scientist Robert Putnam puts it.
And does that not bring us full circle? That is, if we the citizenry have allowed our country to turn bleak, as it has, mustn’t we be the ones to right it? The President-Elect seems to think so. Beyond the campaign he ran, nowhere is this more apparent than in his concentrated focus on national service—from his bold agenda to expand it, down to the tab it gets on his website, under “America Serves.”
All this adds up to a visionary paradigm shift from President Bush, who infamously squandered American’s post-9-11 desire to serve by calling on us to, of all things, shop. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has shown he sees service and citizen engagement as integral, at all times, to the maintenance of a balanced world and a healthy democracy. And so the choice becomes ours, not only to hope—as Mr. Obama has so rightly encouraged—but also to work for that more just, more communal world that he’s helped so many believe is possible.