Your One-Stop Guide to Planning a Political Brouhaha
Today’s political climate has many wondering what they can do to become more involved. Last Tuesday’s special state elections show that the desire for real political change is there — the job now is to carry that momentum forward to 2018 and beyond.
Spurred on by Tuesday’s victories, many who normally would not think of running for political office are considering giving it a go. However, you don’t need to run for elected office to get involved. There are plenty of ways to make some political noise and ensure your point of view is heard loud and clear.
Protesting is one of the most popular ways to shake up the status quo and make your views known. There’s far more to protesting than simply creating and carrying a catchy sign, though. When deciding to protest, it’s important to be prepared.
Following the buddy system is the No. 1 thing you can do to ensure your protest time doesn’t end in disaster. Have a group, and stay together. Watch each others’ backs in the case violence should erupt.
Also, be aware of what you should and should not bring. Items in your protest arsenal could include water, snacks, medications and feminine hygiene products. Dress in layers, and wear comfortable footwear.
If you’re concerned about your employer or anyone else in your network learning of your protest activity, leave your cellphone at home. Police have been known to use cell towers to track the activity of protesters.
Get Involved With Your Local Political Party
Another way to get involved in politics directly is to get connected with your local political party. Find out when meetings to discuss policy are being held and be sure to attend. If there is a candidate you support strongly, get involved in their campaign. Those running for office always need volunteers to manage the phone lines and knock on doors. Just showing up at headquarters for an hour or two a week can quickly lead to more responsibilities and assignments.
If you’re truly gifted at organizing, you may even consider founding your own political action group in your community. You can create a new group dedicated to an issue you are passionate about, or become a local affiliate of a national group such as the Young Democrats. Advertise membership in your group by providing information sessions. If you can afford it, hire a respected speaker to give your group’s message even more impact.
Vote – and Encourage Others to Vote, Too
It seems obvious, but one of the easiest thing you can do to become more politically active is to get registered to vote. In many states, registering to vote is as simple as paying a visit to the Secretary of State’s website. As voter ID laws are ever-changing, make sure you are aware of the forms of identification you’ll need to take with you to the polls on Election Day. Better yet, sign up for the permanent early voter list in your state, and vote in all elections by mail.
You can also sign up to help get out the ability to vote to others. Consider volunteering to help with voter registration drives in your area. You’ll make phone calls and even go door to door to let other people know what they need to do to make their opinion on important issues known. Other options include volunteering to assist the elderly or those with physical disabilities to get to the polls on Election Day by offering transportation and moral support.
Contact Your Elected Officials
If you’re more of the introverted sort who prefers not taking part in public protests or knocking on doors, you can still voice your opinion by contacting your elected officials by phone or by mail. While posting your opinions on social media is simple, it isn’t the most effective way to get your leaders’ attention.
Instead, according to former congressional staff member Emily Ellsworth, taking the time to write an actual letter to your representative is the best way to be heard. Address it to their local office instead of their office in Washington, D.C. Better yet, blow up the phone at their local office by calling and encouraging others to call about issues that matter to you. If you have the opportunity and desire to meet your elected officials in person, find out when they are holding their town hall meetings and make an effort to attend.
Most of the news we hear out of the political arena these days is alarming to be sure. However, there is hope that, with effort, we can bring about positive change. We’ve already seen this happen in the 2017 state special elections. With a concerted effort from all of us who are concerned about the current state of political affairs, we can effect real and lasting change.