Michael Dougan learned the importance of being active in his community in the midst of extremely difficult personal adversity. It began when his family worked with federal legislators in Colorado to help his ill father obtain VA benefits.

Three years after his father passed, his mother was diagnosed with lymphoma and was denied a medical procedure through her insurance. Dougan, desperate for a solution, says he reached out to his Congressman for help but was ignored. After facing these tragic life events, he decided he needed someone to represent him who would at least address his concerns, and vowed to do whatever he could to change the political climate by supporting more accountable representation.

Though it ultimately took a tragic incident to spark his active involvement, politics were a large part of Dougan’s daily life growing up.

Dougan believes strongly that “we need to get back to the principles and values our country was founded on. It’s time for our generation to stand and fight for our values.” Getting involved is exactly what he’s doing through his involvement in a number of Tea Party and Conservative Republican groups in his area. Dougan wants to see the old and new guard of the Republican Party join forces to, “move forward as a cohesive unit.”

He uses every opportunity he can get to encourage others to be a part of the local political process. Working in retail, he deals with the public on a daily basis and says he often hears complaints about local officials being ineffective and inaccessible. The vast majority of the time, his neighbors aren’t taking basic steps to get engaged.

“My first question is, did you or do you vote? And the response is usually [that] I don’t or I forgot to,” said Dougan. He uses this as an opportunity to inform them about local candidates and where they stand on specific issues. Then, says Dougan, he respectfully shares an adage his father told him that he’s never forgotten, “If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain.” He says that statement always will be at the forefront of his heart and mind.

Dougan also understands that voting is where citizen engagement begins, not ends. After all, the maintenance of a self-governing society that protects the liberties and rights of the people will require their active involvement in the governing process. This means that beyond voting, Texans also need to become better educated about their government, champion specific policy reforms, and communicate those sentiments to those who’ve been elected to represent them.

Originally born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Dougan has lived in Texas for over 10 years. He currently resides in Mesquite with his wife of eight years. When not encouraging others to be involved in the political process, Dougan spends his time reading, watching movies and sports, and spending time with his friends and family.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.

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