Next month we celebrate the birthday of our nation. July 4 marks the anniversary of the formal beginning of Democracy in this country. Each year at this time, my thoughts return to a train ride across the mountains of mainland China. The year was 1983. I was participating in a technical exchange with Chinese economic leaders and factory managers. Our group had been in China for about ten days. The soberness of a train ride through a communist country highlighted the reality of the freedom we enjoy in our native America. We fully realized the vast freedom we had and fully understood the limited freedom of the Chinese citizens. Since that first trip outside the borders of the United States, I’ve traveled to several other countries around the globe. In every case, I returned more convinced that we have the greatest nation on the face of the earth.

Our system of governance, even with all its faults, is still the best system ever created. But, two changes would make it even greater. And, every reader of this article can help make these changes a reality.

The first change is reduction of voter apathy. Too many people take the privilege to vote for granted. Many of you probably remember local elections that draw less than 25% of registered voters. And, on a national or state level, we are lucky to get over 60% of registered voters to actually go to the polls to vote. Voting is the most important method we have of controlling who represents our interest in government service. Yet, this important privilege for which people in Iraq risked their lives to do, is taken for granted. A majority doesn’t vote but they are quick to complain. So, the next time there is an election, do your part, VOTE!

The second change mechanism we have at our disposal is to monitor the activities and voting records of those we do elect. Don’t be fooled into thinking you cannot make a difference. Call, email, write and talk in person with your elected officials. You should get to know as many elected officials as you can on a first-name basis. This is particularly true for local officials. It’s a little more difficult to get to know state and national officials but it’s not an impossible task. They are approachable. It’s your job to keep them humble and to make them understand that they were elected to serve, not be served. Don’t be bashful or intimidated. It’s your right to expect them to be responsive and do the right thing for your city, state and this country.

There are some in public office that are self-centered and unconcerned. But most serve well. But the few who don’t do an immense disservice to American citizens. They vote to mismanage taxpayer monies and to secure their political future at any cost. It’s your job to help to remove them from office.

As you reflect on your own participation and the importance of being a part of the system, look for ways to become more involved. Vote at every opportunity. Learn about the issues and candidates before you cast your vote. Voting is too important a process to take lightly. Get to know your elected officials. Write letters. Make phone calls. Attend public meetings. Let them know you are watching. They will behave better and you will get the type of representation you want.

July 4 is an important day in the history of our country. It represents all the sacrifices brave Americans have made to build the land of the free. Don’t let their efforts go in vain.

Author's Bio: 

Billy Arcement, MEd., is a Leadership Strategist who works with leaders in all sectors. He is the author of the internationally published book, Searching For Success, and the co-author of Journeying on Holy Ground. Information about his services can be found on his website, He can be contacted directly at his office in Prairieville, LA at 225-677-9426