Do you remember feeling, when you were a kid, that life was fundamentally unfair? That your parents, your teachers, your nannies, by the historical accident of being bigger, older and richer, could push you around and there wasn’t anything you could do about it? That feeling of frustration, bubbling up into your throat, the need to scream and shout even though you knew, no matter how loud you were, there was absolutely nothing in the world you could do about it? You vowed, once older and more powerful, that you’d be able to take your fate into your own hands, make your own decisions, be your own boss.
So what happened to us? Did we, in fact, acquire that power? Do you assert your will? Do you put your hands on the wheel and feel ever so slightly in control of, at the very least, the road you’re traveling? I know that I try, actively, to empower myself every day in little ways. I make conscious choices to speak up when I’m not treated well, call out bullies, and stop supporting businesses that don’t meet my needs. Sometimes I get aggravated, sure, but I sleep well knowing that I’ve impacted my little slice of the world in every possible way.
For the bigger-picture items, we elect representatives — extensions of ourselves — to maintain our power. Unfortunately, those politicians sometimes take their “caretaking” responsibilities too far and farm out decisions to unelected bureaucrats who attempt to take the power for themselves and sap us of our free will. What do we do when power starts slipping away and we find that familiar frustration rumbling up into our throats?
From the beginning, Americans haven’t been shy about re-claiming our rights. Forty-five tons of tea plunged into Boston Harbor in 1773 and we’ve never looked back. Today, we make our voices heard by joining likeminded people to help raise awareness, boycott, protest injustices and petition for change in any and every way available to us.
Sometimes it starts small, a few people getting together to do something rather than just complain. One such group is Smart Girl Politics (SGP), started by one woman tired of justifying her political views. She knew somebody out there must agree with her and today the group has grown to protest nanny-state mandates creeping up all around us. The women of SGP seek to engage, educate and empower other women on all aspects of government and, most importantly, facilitate change in their own communities.
SGP’s current target is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that overgrown behemoth that even Congress can no longer control. Besides unilaterally implementing cap-and-trade regulations and telling us how much to spend and when to replace our light bulbs, they’ve decided to go after our soap. SGP has had enough, and they’re raising their voices to great success with an action item, their SGP letter to the EPA, which all of us should sign so that the bureaucrats know that they’ve gone one step too far into our homes and our lives.
Their next target is the Cosmetic Safety Act, another bureaucrat’s dream that could have the unintended consequences of hurting small business, harming industry and taking beloved products off the shelves.
SGP is smart: they’re fighting for our rights in the same way the EPA is trying to strip them away — one at a time. Sometimes that’s all it takes, a micro-vote, a mini-referendum from a small but growing group that won’t tolerate an injustice being carried out. It feels good to know that somebody besides me is noticing. In fact, that knot in my throat is abating as I realize that I’m not the only one kicking and screaming at the bully. I already know I’ll sleep better tonight.
Natasha Mayer is a political consultant in Washington, D.C.