One determined Coloradan is pioneering a new way for citizens to make their voices heard in the halls of government, where legislators are too often isolated from their constituents while debating laws and regulations that frequently fail to address what the voters want from their elected leaders.
Brian T. Campbell, a Denver-area resident, recently set up Hear Us Now on the Internet because helping to organize the April 15 Tea Party rallies in Colorado convinced him that there are untold thousands of people around the country with genuine fears about state and federal governments’ handling of economic issues, taxes and other important issues.
Campbell says their concerns are legitimate, but too many people don’t have the time to minutely examine each proposed bill to understand the real implications of what the lawmakers are proposing, and a lot of folks are uneasy and intimidated about standing alone in front of a legislative committee to speak.
“It’s not so much apathy,” Campbell told HUMAN EVENTS. “It’s more that too many people just don’t know what to do.”
Hear Us Now examines proposed legislation, posts links and sends out e-mail alerts to its members encouraging them to discuss the pros and cons of a proposal in an online forum to understand what the lawmakers are doing. The website includes information about how people can contact their elected officials through e-mails, telephone calls, letters, and Twitter notices. Scheduled committee debates, links to news stories, blogs and videos are included on the website.
“If at any given time there are 500 to 1,000 people in a committee room listening to the debate, it gets their attention,” Campbell said. “That’s our goal: to have determined, peaceful people there to get the message through to our leaders. I’m determined about this because it’s important.”
He laughed at the critics who labeled the Tea Party Tax Protests and the Hear Us Now rally attendees just small groups of radicals and kooks, pointing out that retired Colorado State Sen. John Andrews said he’d never seen a rally in Denver as large as the April 21 crowd. Police estimated there were 8,000 to 10,000 people in attendance over the course of the day. State lawmakers were in session for floor debates about cutting tax credits and raiding public funds to balance Colorado’s budget. After seeing and hearing the assembled tax-protesting crowd from the building’s balcony, lawmakers closed the debate for the day.
“We got their attention and shut them down that day,” Campbell says. “If we could do the same thing in Washington, we’d be in better shape.”
Campbell said that prior to the April 15 Tea Party in Denver he had felt as if he was out there alone, but seeing hundreds of people standing in line for hours to join Hear Us Now and listening to peoples’ comments changed that. “It makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing,” Campbell said. “When my kids ask me what I did, “I’m going to be able to say I fought for them.”
Campbell has tossed his hat into the ring and is campaigning to be the Republican challenger to Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter in Colorado’s 7th Congressional District. His first hurdle is winning the 2010 GOP primary.