The World Affairs Council of the Quad Cities hosted a panel discussion, “Civic Engagement in a Democracy,” at the Bettendorf Public Library on November 17, 2015. The panel included former Rock Island, IL Mayor Mark Schweibert; IA legislator Maggie Tinsman; and WVIK news director Herb Trix. The panelists discussed many aspects of civic participation, including the need for women and young people to serve in political positions, low voter turn-out, apathy toward the issues, and how to be disagreeable without being disrespectful. Despite the differing political ideologies of the panelists, the message was clear: get involved!
The panelists urged the audience to pay attention to current events, voice their opinions, and reach out to their representatives. Herb was particularly focused on the advantages of being involved in local politics. He noted that, not only can local representatives give more attention to the issues you care about, but you can also see the progress being made with your own eyes. Mark added how politicians can encourage political participation by helping simplify the increasingly complex issues. Maggie was equally excited for people – particularly women – to get involved. She explained how women bring unique perspectives to the political process, no matter what side of the aisle they’re on.
With such enthusiastic panelists, it was no wonder the audience was full of questions. The crowd asked how incivility among our politicians affects apathy toward the political process, how to address low voter turn-out and encourage participation among youth, and why campaign finances matter. It was the panelists’ openness to discussion that was perhaps the most intriguing part of the event. People remarked that, in a time of such hostility, they appreciated the “intelligent and thoughtful discussion.” Indeed, the panelists truly walked the talk.
The World Affairs Council of the QC (WACQC)
is nonpartisan and a 501(c) (3) organization seeking to foster global
education and international understanding within the Quad Cities and beyond.