Many people view getting involved in politics as a chore or boring, but in truth, it can be both invigorating and a great way to shape your local and national community. That’s what a democracy is — everyone getting involved to have their say in the way our country is run.
With the 2022 midterms right around the corner, this is a great opportunity to get more involved in politics at a level you’re comfortable with. This doesn’t have to mean running for office, though it certainly can if you’re inclined to! There are quicker or less involved ways you can be politically active, making it easy to fit into your schedule so that making your voice heard doesn’t become a hinderance at the same time.
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The most hands-off way to support a cause is to donate your money. Getting involved this way is easy to work into your calendar every month. Running a campaign, whether that’s an election campaign or supporting a cause, isn’t cheap. Politicians need money for everything from ads, to event planning, to renting an office space, and to paying staff who are the lifeblood of a campaign. The same is true for non-profit organizations. Your donations are essential to the success of these groups.
The changes you make at a local level may also be more noticeable in your day-to-day life.
You have options for where to give your money. You can donate to a candidate running for the presidency, the Senate, or the House of Representatives, since these races can have some of the largest influences on the national landscape of the United States. There’s also the party or a party’s Senate or House fund, which takes your money and funnels it into races that their strategists think it will help most. If you want your money to make a larger impact, consider your local races. These receive less attention and fewer donations, so your money could be more influential and helpful. The changes you make at the local level may also be more noticeable in your day-to-day life.
Lobbying and Talking to Your Politicians
Lobbying is a dirty word for some people, but it really means lawfully working to influence a politician’s decision and can refer to any communication you have with a politician. When done ethically, there’s nothing wrong with lobbying, and it’s something you can take part in as a citizen.
If you’re able to, schedule a visit with your representatives, where you can address your concerns with them directly.
If you’re looking to participate in this way, you can volunteer with advocacy groups that may help you get started and provide training to lobby your politicians for causes you support. It can be as simple as calling your representative’s office and sharing your opinion with them. You may also email but calling tends to be more direct and more likely to be heard. If you’re able to, schedule a visit with your representatives, where you can address your concerns with them directly. You could meet them at their local offices or in Washington, D.C. You could probably even get a tour after the meeting if you want!
Remember the staffers we mentioned that are the lifeblood of a campaign? You can volunteer to be one of those staffers for an election or cause you support. Depending on your skills and capabilities, you may be asked to complete a number of important tasks. These can range from basic office work, such as organizing files, to supporting the political staff that run the campaign, to making phone calls and voter outreach (also called phone banking). You may even be asked to do door-to-door outreach and talk to potential voters directly.
Once you decide to volunteer with a group, reach out to them and ask what their procedure is for volunteering.
This is the most direct way you can help a campaign or cause that’s close to your heart since you’ll become a part of the movement. Once you decide to volunteer with a group, reach out to them and ask what their procedure is for volunteering. Tell them how much time you can commit and what you’re able to do. All that’s left is for you to start volunteering!
Talking with Friends and Family
You also don’t have to get political in any sort of official way, either. If you feel strongly enough about something, you can also try to have a conversation with your friends and family. While there’s a time and place for political talk, and a way you should properly go about it, it can be incredibly rewarding to turn nonvoters into active voters or to convince someone with an opposing view to understand your belief. Just make sure you’re respectful and open to hearing their beliefs, too. The conversation should be civil — not an argument or formal debate. Making it unpleasant is a great way to push people away. But, having a fair, informative, and polite discussion with a friend can be more convincing than any television or phone bank caller.
Just make sure you’re respectful and open to hearing their beliefs, too. The conversation should be civil.
Expanding this concept beyond friends and family and into the community, watch for opportunities to socially advocate outside your direct group. This can include town hall meetings, community events, local meet and greets, charitable events for causes, or demonstrations and protests, in more extreme circumstances.
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While election season, and just before it, is a good time to get more politically involved, there’s never a bad time for it either. Any of these political activities and ideas are suitable for any time of year, even just after an election. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, it’s important to make your voice heard and keep an open mind for the advancement of our country. When we have a healthy dialogue and work together for the good of our nation, we work towards a stronger, more unified country.