By: Mahima Mahadevan
Public Policy Chair, APIAVote-MI
Partisan politics, corporate interests, jargony language, boys’ club mentality – these are some reasons why I’ve kept a distance with the people that get elected to Lansing and the legislation that comes out of Lansing. To be quite honest, I was satisfied with thinking of our state government as a black box. By doing this, I gave myself permission to stay out of Lansing and hurl complaints and criticisms from afar knowing that I couldn’t (but in my reality, wouldn’t) do anything about it.
So what changed? The initial shift happened when I attended APIAVote-MI’s Legislative Day on February 28th. It was my first time being inside legislators’ offices, meeting their staff and at times the legislators themselves, and having conversations with them guided by my interests. Before that day, I had not known that legislators had an open door policy that often resulted in a high level staff member taking a few minutes to talk to people like us that walked in unannounced. The second shift happened when I realized how important it was for our representatives to make direct contact with us and vice versa. As is natural to all of us, we are more likely to consider a viewpoint or an issue when we connect a name with a face. Now, when legislators see the name APIAVote-MI, hopefully they are more likely to pause and consider what we’re asking of them since they have met us. In a similar manner, when I see the name of a legislator, I feel more empowered and willing to do something since I feel I actually know this person, even if from a brief encounter. It will still take time for me to be more actively engaged, but at the very least, I don’t feel that Lansing and I are separated by an imaginary wall. Instead, I am starting to punch through this wall instead of staying put and being quiet on the other side.
I feel the best way to get past whatever wall you’ve created around Lansing is to do what I did and take a chance to step inside. Consider joining APIAVote-MI at our upcoming Lobby Day in Lansing on Tuesday, May 14th. No experience is needed (all of us were first timers at the February 28th lobby day!). We will provide the training and materials for our legislator visits. Please RSVP to receive more details. We will also join the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (MAPAAC) at the Capitol on Tuesday, May 14th for their annual celebration of APIA Heritage month with distinguished APAs, legislators and special guests. Details found here. Finally, the best way to break down walls is to be introduced to the legislative process at a young age so as not to build the walls in the first place. For this reason, APIAVote-MI is holding a free Youth Civic Engagement Leadership Training this Saturday, May 11th from 10-3pm. Please RSVP to attend. And as always, consider becoming a member. It is through our membership support that we are able to build our presence in Lansing and make our legislators accountable to our concerns.
The opinions expressed by those providing comments on this blog are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of APIAVote-Michigan. APIAVote-Michigan is not responsible for the accuracy of, or loss or damage caused by, any of the information supplied by the blogger or those providing comments. The blogger reserves the right to delete any comment if deemed inappropriate.