| by Nathaniel Hamilton

This originally appeared in the State Journal-Register on January 4, 2018

Taxpayers everywhere should read the SJ-R’s Dec. 31 editorial discussing the importance of engaging with our government. Illinoisans should read it twice.

Anyone who works with elected officials or deals with the government policy-making process can attest to the constant political and budgetary calculations being made by politicians for any policy.

Although in Illinois, political ramifications usually take a much larger starring role.

So how does a taxpayer become part of that calculation? By forcing yourself into it and talking to the people doing the calculating.

In late 2016, a former congressional staffer shared on Twitter the most effective ways to get the attention of an elected official from an insider’s point of view. The answer? Talking to an elected official or staffer directly at a town hall or calling a district office always garners the most attention.

It’s easy to brush off a tweet, Facebook post or angry email. But a direct call or conversation with a constituent (read: voter) is hard to ignore for an official reliant on that constituent’s support to stay in office.

Much of the time, elected officials’ actions are guided by the anticipated consequences of their actions. Those consequences are gauged by the feedback from their fellow legislators, donors and voters. If voters don’t give their feedback, there’s no doubt that the people in the other categories will.

Illinois politicians are making decisions that dictate our state’s future. Illinois taxpayers need to dictate to our politicians what that future should be.