(Letter by Donald Freix)
As Door/Kewaunee Legislative Days sponsors have gone public with their contrived and limiting survey, requesting issue ideas to bring to our state legislators, these pseudo inclusive efforts fail miserably in encouraging unfettered participation by all our area citizens as “stakeholders,” in the legislative process of influencing state “leadership.”
Having taken the time to directly communicate to the executive directors of both Door and Kewaunee county’s economic development corporations (D/KEDC) with a couple simple suggestions for being more inclusive and less controlling over the issues allowed for April’s supposed community-wide legislative lobbying efforts, I’ve not received one written word in response to my suggestions.
I’ve criticized the three applied preconditions of conformity for any issues suggested to be deemed worthy of lobbying efforts. I’ve asked what issue isn’t potentially a statewide or national issue and what issue can’t be argued as being controversial by someone and lastly, if we’re bringing any issue to Madison, it’s a forgone conclusion that we’ve not been able to resolve it locally.
Addressing youth disenfranchisement, I’ve directly suggested to most of our area school superintendents and to both our county government sponsors of the D/KEDCs that using our young adults to lobby for efforts dictated to them by political and/or by corporate economic interests is nothing but a public relations gimmick to bolster the community image of our D/KEDCs. To disingenuously recruit our youth to lobby under contrived, controlled and dictatorial conditions is usury, short-sighted and unconscionable.
As supposed “adult,” community leaders, frequently lamenting how difficult it is to keep our young adults interested in remaining in the area for the (readily debatable) good job opportunities locally, perhaps we should instead be encouraging our youth to be discussing, selecting and voicing their own critical issues during this lobbying opportunity instead of dictating to them, the terms and talking points for their participation.
Looming student debt for post-secondary education, global warming, universal health care, fair wages, open government, decriminalizing cannabis use or ending racial oppression are issues that our young adults might want to have the opportunity to champion. Respecting these young people, their opinions, abilities and ideas is the logical first step to engendering constructive future community involvement, loyalty and civic engagement.
As “adults,” let’s not waste this golden opportunity for deliberate and honest inclusion of our youth, their ideas and future vision, through our own continued ignorance or arrogance, or the apparent official economic development and local government sanctioning of unquestionable irresponsibility and social detriment currently defining the terms and conditions promoting D/K Legislative Days.