Amateur Radio operators tend to avoid politics like the plague … in fact, many of us who teach technician classes will suggest, in our classes, that polite operators do not discuss religion, politics, and other “controversial” topics… but perhaps this is not entirely good operating practice.

Amateur Radio is a science-based hobby predicated on provable, measurable, and repeatable facts …. OK, there is some form of black art in the “High Potential of the Wouff Hong” that no-doubt affects my DX propagation (but I digress). The point is our hobby, like all science, engineering, and technology is based on facts and on freely sharing, discussing, and debating the value, analysis, and interpretation of those facts and fact-based opinions. I am about to argue that key among these facts is the value of Amateur Radio itself and Amateur Radio operators. Moreover, I submit that much that happens within our local, state, and federal governments matters directly to Amateur Radio operators and will or could impact our use and enjoyment of Amateur Radio.

In short, politics matter! Recently, efforts at the Utah State Legislature threatened the use of Amateur Radio in moving vehicles and our beloved Amateur Radio license plates. Several localities have threatened or taken planning and zoning action against Utah Amateur Radio operators. Oh, and don’t get me started on the ugly politics in every HOA and their so-called “Karens”,

At the heart of the American democratic theory and process is the notion that citizens participate in the civic/political process. Our system of government, just like science, only works freely sharing, discussing, and debating the value, analysis, and interpretation of facts, circumstances, and opinions. Whether you choose to participate in the political process, or not, politics will affect you and Amateur Radio. The political season is soon upon us, and I am urging each of you to actively engage in the political process as a means to protect and enhance the future of Amateur Radio in Utah and our beloved hobby as a whole. What I am asking need not take large amounts of your effort or time. The actions that I am advocating will not only allow you to positively impact Amateur Radio but other areas of value to you and your community.

The premise of a democratic republic is that citizens vote on the candidates and issues that they believe are in the best interest of themselves and society. We all are admonished to register to vote and, of course, actually vote. However, in today’s charged and divisive political environment, selecting candidates and grasping the consequences of their election is a challenge for even the most informed experts, much less the general public as a whole. So yes, please get out and vote, but I am not here to suggest or convince you to vote for a particular candidate, party, or philosophy…. What I am about to suggest, regardless of how or for whom you choose to vote, is how to make sure your voice and the voice of Amateur Radio will be heard after the next election is over and into the future. In a word, I am advocating for advocacy, more specifically credible advocacy, and ensuring that when an issue of importance to you or to Amateur Radio threatens or otherwise arises you and the rest of the Amateur Radio community are able to engage and have our say, and actually win on the issue.

The upcoming ballot for this November is set … political signs are sprouting on lawns across Utah. The first and most important thing I am asking you to do is find out who will be on the ballot in your local area. That is, who is the incumbent, who is the challenger for all local, school, and state offices. If you can, take any opportunity to actually meet them, in person. If they are running, they want to meet you … you don’t have to talk politics or agree with them … Just meet them and introduce yourself, let them know what you do, and mention your involvement in Amateur Radio. The idea is to introduce yourself and make an acquaintance … remember one of the candidates in each race will be elected. Whether, you agree or disagree with each candidate, be a nice, warm, caring representative of yourself and Amateur Radio.
You may find you actually like, or even support, some candidate… Hey, if you find you like them, get involved … ask them for a yard sign, offer to host a neighborhood meeting, or better yet, a small group of HAMs in your area. Candidates love this, and elected officials will not forget you. So, what is the goal here? … enlightened self-interest … it is simply hard to ignore, work against, or hate someone you know. By getting to know those running for and holding office in your community, you create positive relationships.

Once the election is over, regardless of whether your candidate is actually elected, reach out and reintroduce yourself to each of the elected officials you met when they were candidates. Again foster a nice, warm, caring representation of yourself and Amateur Radio … Why? … enlightened self-interest.

Amateur radio is an engineering discipline … All engineers know (well at-least train engineers) that locomotives only go where the tracks have been laid. Taking a little time to become acquaintances, and perhaps friends, with your local elected officials is the best way to ensure that your voice and the voice of Amateur Radio will be heard and acted upon. You see, elected officials just like all of us are dependent upon and must grapple with technology and the consequences of policy on technology essential to our lives and our hobby. There will always be lobbyists eager to “inform” our elected officials, of the “rightness” of their position … however, when an elected official is contacted by someone in their area with whom they have an acquaintance, that person can quickly become a trusted source and advisor on an issue … I dare say a locomotive not only moving the issue but delivering the freight for Amateur Radio.

This exact process is what allowed Amateur Radio in Utah to ensure the protection of our use of mobile radio and have those protections written into Utah law. Alas, currently there are too few of us … we need each Amateur Radio operator to do their part …. In the words of the 1st-century scholar, Hillel the Elder: “If Not You, Then Who? If Not Now, Then When?”

If you would like to become more involved in HAM radio advocacy, please feel free to reach out to Jeri Brummett, WJ3RI.

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