On Wednesdays, I will wear purple.
Last week, I had the incredible honor of serving in Idaho's legislature as an acting member of the House of Representatives. The duly elected representative needed to take a few days off to take care of her family and she asked me to sit in for her.
There is something rather daunting about hearing your name read into the official record. It was a reminder than sitting in that chair for two days or two years is no small thing. The votes cast from floor impact human lives.
We are early in the session so most of what I dealt with was housekeeping and information gathering. We heard from agencies and school boards and department heads filling each committee in on what had transpired during the summer. (Idaho's legislature only meets for three months, so a lot happens in the other nine). Idaho's governor asked all agencies to go through the section of law and policy to remove anything that was redundant or no longer relevant. we voted on one piece of legislation that removed terminology from the books based on a law that was repealed 50 years ago. There was quite a bit of that. Simple, but important, business.
My first day in the legislature was Wednesday and on that day, I wore purple. While I'm a Democrat, the reality is my district is heavily Republican. Once the election is won, I wish we could erase the party designations and just represent our districts. Sadly, that's not how the system works, but I wanted to remind myself that I don't need to be "blue" or "red". I'm in the middle -- the purple. I think that's were most Idahoans are and it's probably where most Americans live. We watch the extremists on both sides shout and scream while the rest of us are just trying to take care of our families, work and keep a roof over our heads.
The Idaho legislature has its share of extremists. My first reaction is to call these people crazy, but it my ongoing efforts to be a nicer person, I decided to see the good in these people. That was fairly difficult., honestly. These are people who are motivated by fear. I think they fear for their way of life, their constitutional rights, their beliefs. It's clear from listening to them, they fear people who look and think differently. They contradict themselves. They want the government out of their lives unless it's providing something they want. The far right has an unreasonable amount of power, in my opinion, so I think it's even more imperative to represent the people in the middle. That's why, on Wednesday, I'll wear purple. It's the people in the middle that matter and we need remind our leaders of that.
If we want real change in this country, it's the middle that needs to rise. I don't mean storming the Capitol or the statehouse. I mean those of us in the middle need to raise our hands. We need to get involved. Join a cause, participate in the political system, pay attention to what's happening in the county buildings, the statehouses and the nation's capitol. What happens in those places has a real impact on our lives, but too often, we are too caught up in our own lives to engage...and that's how the extremists gain power. They take the time to get involved. They work the system. The rest of us can do that too.
It's intimidating and overwhelming to know where to begin, so let's start with something simple.
On Wednesday's, wear purple.