3 Ways to Spark Change
Making Politics Accessible
by Jessica Johnson
There’s always a sense of mystery when it comes to politics and campaigns. People seem to come out of nowhere, talking about changes that you may like (or may not), then nothing changes. Rinse, repeat. Lucky for you, it doesn’t have to be this way. Politics work best when everyone is involved. So we’ve gathered some helpful ways you get and stay in touch with these important conversations.
1. Find an issue you care about. Then pursue it.
There’s a saying that goes “politics is personal,” which means people are more likely to care when they know it will affect them directly. Is there an intersection that’s unsafe? Maybe you want to talk about infrastructure. Is the local school looking drab? Your cause may be education. Worried about pollution from a local plant? Then environmental issues may be close to your heart. When you narrow down the issues that are important to you, it’s easier to shift through the many news headlines and hone in on what matters. Every issue has specific organizations that work diligently to make change. If none exists in your town or city, get a group together and see about starting a local chapter of a national organization. Or start one of your own.
2. Learn who your local representatives are.
While national headlines dominate cable news, it’s locally where you most feel the impact of politics. Knowing who your mayor, city council members, and state representatives are and how to contact them is integral when you want to communicate concerns. You can look up your state representatives here. Once you know who represents you, you can follow how to contact them, bills they’ve introduced, committees they serve on, and political contributions they’ve received. Attend city council meetings and town halls to get a glimpse of what’s important to your legislators. These meetings typically have time set aside for you to address representatives directly. Their job is to serve you and your community. Let them know you are paying attention.
From the PTA to the polling place, there is always a need for volunteers in politics. If you find a local politician whose platform aligns with the changes you want to see, contact their office to figure out how you can get involved in the campaign. Volunteer activities range from calling voters to planning rallies. The possibilities are truly endless. If you want to help but have limited time, take part in digital activism. That involves sending newsletters via email or text message, or organizing online campaigns. On Election Day, you can volunteer to help others vote at the polls. Volunteering is literally the backbone of any campaign. Another great thing about volunteering is it’s a great way to start a career in politics, if that is your aim. Even without a formal political science degree, many council members, senators, and even a president started out as volunteers in their communities.
When you want to make a difference where you live, talking only gets you so far. Get out, meet people, organize. If you take any of the above actions, you’ll be well on your way to achieving great things.