It doesn’t take much to get dialog started. Kalitha Williams and Travis Simmons can attest to that. Sometimes, all it takes is an idea, a pen, and when there’s no paper, a napkin. I had the chance to meet two of the three creators of The CHANGE Agency, an advocacy group founded by Kalitha Williams, Travis Simmons and Regina Johnson, that engages young black professionals to take a stake in the community through leadership development, civic participation, community development, volunteerism and entrepreneurialism.
Political Watch Party in Columbus, Ohio
For the last debate of the election season, The CHANGE Agency hosted a watch party to promote discussion and to stress the importance of voting. The final debate between the candidates, which was about foreign policy, sparked some rather interesting insights and predictions about the plethora of issues that suddenly become the front focus in the American conscious pool. I mean, let’s face it, how often do we talk about these issues outside of election season?
Governer Romney’s final debate approach
The final debate between the President and his opponent turned out to be quite a passionate exchange of ideas. Often times paralleling what was expected to be covered. Simmons made an insightful prediction that Governor Romney would somehow tie in the importance of a strong economy to his foreign policy. And that is exactly what he ended up doing by making the point that the “national debt is America’s greatest threat to national security” (along with Iran).
It was clear that his strategic focus on tying in domestic economic policy with foreign policy was meant to draw attention away from his obvious lack of experience, despite his trips overseas.
President Obama’s final debate approach
President Obama was firm, but broadly focused on remaining vigilant against networks of terrorism through strategic cuts in defense spending. He went on to say that labeling China a currency manipulator would only serve to isolate the U.S further. He insisted that the U.S. not make them an advisory, but rather allies that “play by the rules”.
Both candidates touched on humanitarian efforts especially in the Middle East, but the U.S drone strikes that still kill many innocent civilians was never brought up. Another issue that was left on the back burner was the attack in Benghazi, Lybia on the U.S consulate. Romney did not pursue it, and was probably happy to just leave it be, after his fumble in the last debate.
When the election is over
This leaves us with one more glaring question: What happens to the conversation after the election? The CHANGE Agency heads up programs like the State of the Ohio Young Black Professional Project, and voter awareness events like Debate Watch Parties that promote not only dialog but also engage young leaders in civic participation opportunities. Their website provides opportunities for non-partisan voter education.
The CHANGE Agency is looking for just that, change. They hope to not ever back one party or candidate over the other, but rather create a Collectivist Community Conversation: A conversation that hopefully will start to be heard by those who hold power to start making changes that reflect the will of an active and conscious community.