Politics are a hot topic these days, and no matter what side you’re on, it pays to be informed. You might even be inspired to get out there and do more hands-on work for your favorite cause. Here are just a few ways to get more involved with politics.
1. Know Your Local Legislators
Who’s your governor? Who represents your interests on the city council? You don’t have to memorize a full list of names and parties, but it can help to be passingly familiar with these officials and their values. That way, when an issue crops up that you care about, you’ll already know where your legislators are likely to lean.
2. Get Connected to Social Media
Most politicians are on social media these days, so you can follow them directly for news, updates, and opinions. You can also find organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy on professional networks like LinkedIn. While you shouldn’t use social media as your only way of engaging with political matters, it can be a valuable tool when utilized properly.
3. Realize What Works and What Doesn’t
Petitions are rarely effective when it comes to creating change. They’re mostly just a way for people to blow off steam and maybe gauge interest in further activism efforts. On the other hand, protests and marches are a great way to make a difference. They’re loud and visible, and politicians tend to listen to the people during an election year.
4. Find Other Like-Minded People
The world is full of political groups, so it’s just a matter of finding or creating one that meets your specific needs. They can be as simple as a student club or as large as an actual political party. Just remember that the most successful activism is a group effort, so don’t go about it alone.
5. Make Your Voice Heard
Send emails. Make phone calls. Start hashtags on social media. Activists are all about action, so if you’re serious about graduating from “spectator” to “participant” when it comes to affecting change, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get it done. Never underestimate the power of your voice, especially when it joins a chorus.
6. Check Your Facts
In the Internet age, it’s common for things to get distorted, exaggerated and blown out of proportion very quickly. It’s your duty as a responsible citizen to double-check everything before you take action on it. Where do the reports originate? Can the sources be trusted? Have you seen proof with your own eyes? If fewer people jumped to conclusions about current events, the world would be a much more reasonable place.
7. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
At the end of the day, money is the grease that keeps the political wheel going. No matter what kind of group or activity that you’re supporting, the best thing that you can do for them has donated some cash to keep them going. If you really can’t afford to give anything, at least fundraise on their behalf.
These are a few simple ways to get more involved in politics. Whether you’re joining protests or just looking into National Endowment for Democracy business, use these tips to get started on making changes in your community.