If you truly want to make a difference, show up Tuesday

Confidence in our government leaders is near generational lows. A Jan. 26 poll gave Congress an approval rating of 16 percent, better than the 12 percent in October, but October was the lowest in 40 years. Just 27 percent said then, during the federal government partial shutdown, that they were willing to re-elect their member of Congress.

And now, average Minnesotans get a chance  to do something about their part of the political universe.

Tuesday evening, precinct caucuses will be held in the state. If the past holds,  only 5 percent of Minnesotans will turn out.

Sixty-two percent of Americans, according to another poll, think “the nation is seriously on the wrong track.” If you are one of those people, this is finally the chance to get off your duff and do something about it.

Precinct caucuses are simple affairs. People go to the gathering spot for the Democrats or the Republicans, whichever party they think fits more closely with their beliefs. They introduce and vote on resolutions on any subject. They may take a straw poll or two — at least on the Republican side this year because they are looking for candidates to challenge the DFL incumbents for statewide office.

And perhaps most important, the people at the caucus elect the delegates to the next endorsing convention. At the next level, they will  endorse legislative candidates, to run for the Minnesota House, and elect delegates to the congressional and state conventions, where candidates are endorsed for congressional and statewide offices. If you don’t like your choices in November, you can blame yourself if you skipped your precinct caucus, because the process of choosing candidates begins Tuesday right in your neighborhood.

If you are a first-timer, don’t be intimidated. Many precincts have trouble filling all the delegate and alternate positions to which they are entitled. Both parties are in need of more people to help on campaigns. Long-time caucus-goers will usually welcome you.

Regardless, the bottom line is that this nation belongs to the people, not the government or those we elect. If you truly want to make a difference, the best way to do it is to bundle up and go out to spend a couple of hours with your neighbors on Tuesday evening.