… by the people, for the people. Abraham Lincoln wrote
these powerful words in the 19th century to capture the essence of
democratic governments. As it happens, they also beautifully describe the
electric cooperatives that took root and grew across the land in the 20th
century, and that continue to prosper in the 21st.
The 140 citizen-legislators who constitute the 100-member
House of Delegates and the 40-member Senate of Virginia convene at noon on
Wednesday, Jan. 11, to begin considering thousands of proposed changes to
the Commonwealth’s laws, including bills that may impact your electric
cooperative, your community and your profession.
As high schoolers know (but we adults often forget),
Virginia’s legislature is the Western Hemisphere’s oldest democratic body in
continuous existence. Despite long centuries of practice, though, the
General Assembly functions best only when the Commonwealth’s citizens are
involved and invested in the decisions that are being made on their behalf.
Which is why you’ll find nestled in the folds of this
month’s magazine the Virginia Legislative Guide, which we’ve now published
for 28 consecutive years. The 2017 edition of the guide awaits your review
and, even more importantly, your usage. This handy publication has a wealth
of information on our elected officials, including their district and
Richmond office phone numbers, as well as their mail and email addresses.
For additional information about the General Assembly, go
online to the legislature’s website, www.virginiageneralassembly.gov, to the
Virginia Public Access Project site, www.vpap.org, or to the website of the
association that publishes this magazine, www.vmdaec.com (go to “Association
Services,” then to “Governmental Affairs,” and then to “Legislative Map”).
Throughout our 80-year history, electric cooperatives
have addressed and overcome challenges large and small, by using a
grassroots, consumer-friendly approach; after all, our members are also our
owners. So please stay informed and involved, and join us as we work with
our elected officials in Richmond, seeking reasonable solutions to the
complex issues that face us.
We hope you make full and frequent use of the enclosed
legislative guide, and that you contact — and stay in touch with — your
elected representatives. In a democracy, and also in a member-owned
cooperative, it’s not as important when, or why, or even how you stay in
touch — only that you do.
Your participation in the democratic process — first by
voting, then by sharing your views with your legislators — honors the
founders of our nation, as well as the community leaders who formed your
electric cooperative. When we vote, we keep our democracy alive; when we
share our views, we make our democracy thrive.
President Lincoln’s “new birth of
freedom” stands over a century-and-a-half later as more than mere eloquent
encouragement to those gathered at Gettysburg on one of our nation’s darkest
days. It’s really a pinprick to our collective conscience, reminding us that
involvement by all of us — broad and deep, peaceful and purposeful — has
always been, and remains, the one sure way that free people remain free.
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to
the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly
advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task
remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased
devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion
— that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain —
that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that
government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish
from the earth.
— Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President; the closing
passage of his Gettysburg Address, Nov. 19, 1863.