The Ionian - Iona College
September 18, 2010
By Lai Hiu Wan
“As an American, I have a right to make my interest heard,” Executive Director of Democracy Matters Joan Mandle said.
On Sept. 17, Constitution Day, Mandle visited Iona and shared her political thoughts with students in the Lapenta end Zone. She discussed the importance of democracy, what she thinks democracy is, and why the Constitution is important. Mandle introduced her organization to Iona Students and she highly recommended that students take part in it.
Mandle said that the Constitution is a contract with Americans and the promise of democracy. However, she believes that democracy is not completely practiced unless Americans are actively involved with their attention and ideas. Mandle has been involved in reforming the political system and has been dedicated to encouraging people to become active citizens.
“We cannot promote general welfare unless people talk about what they want. The vote is for people to communicate,” Mandle said. Voting is the vital part for individuals to express their interests and she also hopes people can realize that every vote counts. “Voting for many Americans is a sometimes thing,” she said. Therefore, she encourages people to be aware of the issues that concern them throughout the year instead of a short period of time.
Society lacks voices from the individuals, and Mandle thinks that peoples’ opinions are one of the elements to promote general welfare. “We do not have enough people exercising free speech and voting,” she said. Other than voting, she believes that it is essential for active citizens to pay attention to the issues that they care about, and speak about their concerns. “Citizens make their voices heard, not just by voting but by letting people speak out,” Mandle said.
Money is now playing the major role in the government and the political system. “This is not about bad people but a bad system,” Mandle said. People can be heard when they give out money and many decisions were made by the people who spend more money. However, Mandle thinks that money should not be the driving force that affects democracy.
“There is a huge disconnection between the promise of the constitution and what is actually happening,” Mandle said. She urges students to dedicate themselves to participate in a real democracy. Mandle thinks that people should come together and talk about what general welfare is and to protect their own interests. “We need to use the right given to us. We need to use the right to push up what is silent in us,” she said.
Students have played a significant role and have spoken up to make their voices heard. “You have to be willing to speak up what is important to you. You have to get together. An individual is only affective when he or she is together with other individuals,” Mandle said.
Democracy Matters has recently been established in Iona College.
“The Iona chapter of Democracy Matters will provide a platform for students to become involved in the political advocacy process, get their voices heard, educate their fellow classmates, the greater New Rochelle community, New York State and their Country on the clean elections process,” Democracy Matters Chapter President Jesse Ouellette said.
Democracy Matters emphasizes campaign finance reform. Oellette said that money would come from small donations from constituents instead of big business, so that politicians would be more answerable to the citizens they represent.
“There has never before been such a time and a place in history where the voices of all ethnicities, genders, and races can be heard in the political arena concerning issues that affect all humanity. Now is the time to get involved, learn, and advocate for the issues we are so passionate about, whatever they may be,” Oellette said.