Aretha knows

In my opinion, it’s one of the best songs ever recorded. I’m talking about Aretha Franklin’s hit, “Respect.”  Shall I pause while you sing a few bars?

Respect it’s a mutual thing, something one has to earn, essential to any functioning and successful team, organization, democracy.  Now that it’s defined, we must decide if it is still observed.

I’m one who carries strong opinions and views; yet, I also am open and want to hear another persons views. While a pastor in a local church setting, I often expressed to my flock, “My office door is open. I am willing to listen, talk and discuss with you any topic.  All I ask is that you bring more than hate and rhetoric.”

That standard worked out O.K. and by it I still abide. 

That is why as we are out and about doing legislative visits in our defense of Medicaid and Medicare, I have certain standards I expect to have upheld by our elected officials.

  1. Respect your constituents and our time.  As we have been busy scheduling legislative visits, I continue to be amazed that for some offices it has taken multiple phone calls and e-mails just to get an answer. Folks, it should not be that difficult to schedule an appointment.  Especially, when we were looking for a meeting date during the week you were home in the district.
  2. Come ready to discuss with us.  We hear enough of the sound bytes and one-liners while watching cable television.  Seek to have an honest conversation with us.  We expect that of those who represent us.
  3. Whether we are in agreement or in sharp contrast of opinions, respect us as we respect the office you hold. Don’t label us. Listen to us. And, in mutual respect, we shall do the same.

This season of legislative visits has been heartening. I’m proud of our consumers and their confidence and advocacy. 

Though I would never be considered someone who “waves the flag,” these moments of conversation with our elected officials are foundational to the democracy we share and build and respect.

For many reasons, if you have not yet called or visited your elected officials, pick up the phone and schedule a visit.  Grab a pen and paper (that time honored form of communication) and write a letter.  Join in the conversation.  Respect our democracy enough to engage in its practice.

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