President’s Day is the perfect time to write a post about becoming more politically engaged, don’t you think? Actually, any time is the perfect time. Now is always the perfect time for action. Something procrastinators like me should keep in mind regarding many things.
Recently, I was part of a discussion in which it was suggested to me that I need to get over it. This time, the thing I was supposed to get over wasn’t cancer or grief, it was a certain presidential election.
I don’t appreciate being told I should get over cancer. I don’t appreciate being told I should get over grief. And I don’t appreciate being told I should get over a certain election either. It’s not possible to get over any of these things anyway.
And just because my candidate didn’t win this or any other election, I do not have to accept (or keep quiet about) policies or positions that do not align with my values and neither do you.
This is a democracy, after all.
This post is not an anti-Trump or anti-Republican post. In fact, it’s is meant to be an inclusive post in which I am attempting to share some things any of us can do in order to become more politically engaged.
As always, I welcome all viewpoints and suggestions.
Here’s my list of random suggestions on how to become more politically engaged:
1. Get local.
We’ve all heard this one, right? Grassroots seems to be a popular political buzz word. There’s a reason for it. Politics at the local level matters, too, and engagement at this level might be a good starting place to become more involved. School board seats, city council and mayor openings, state senate and rep seats – check them out and support people who support your concerns, heck consider running for seats yourself.
Consider running to become a delegate to your state’s convention. If your state is a caucus state, attend. Make calls. Vote in all elections you are eligible to vote in. Get involved at the local level, too.
2. Become a more informed citizen.
This means read stuff and not just stuff “your side” writes. Learn more about all political viewpoints. Read whatever you can wherever you can, but vary it up. If you’re more of a cable TV news person, watch different outlets and then sort out the facts and views from there.
Think for yourself. And always aim to have an open, questioning mind. (Easier said than done, right?)
3. Listen to young people.
My generation has made a mess out of a lot of things and frankly, we don’t always listen to the younger crowd because we think we know better. Maybe we do. But maybe we don’t. Young people are smart, savvy and ready to take on way more than we might like to give them credit for. I have tremendous faith they will do a better job on all fronts than my generation has.
And on the flip side, listen to old people too. Their life experiences are a vast reservoir of knowledge and too often their voices go unheard.
4. Visit Indivisble.org if you’re so inclined.
5. Write. Email. Call. Sign petitions.
Senators and representatives work for YOU. They listen to their constituents. I have contacted mine more frequently and signed more petitions in the last few months than I have in my entire life.
You must find out who yours are. Click here to find yours, and then get into the habit of contacting them whenever you want to.
You are not bothering them. Again, they work for YOU. And remember to do this at the state level, too.
6. Meet and March.
This works for some, but it’s not for everyone. The right to gather and demonstrate peacefully is a fundamental liberty. I am not a protester sort of person. Remember, I’m an introvert. I don’t like crowds. Heck I don’t even like people that much, period. (Kidding. Sort of).
We all witnessed the profound impact, visually anyway, the Women’s March had on the entire country no, the entire world. There’s a reason for that saying, a picture’s worth a thousand words.
7. Practice self care.
Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it all here either. When you feel up to it, do what you can. It all matters. If you try to do too much, you’ll just burn out anyway. And cut yourself some slack.
Becoming a more active citizen is a learning process, too. It’s a skill that takes practice. You’ll get better at this, too.
8. Find your niche.
Some of us march. Some of us speak out. Some of us blog. Some of us run for office. Some of us donate. Some of us stuff envelopes or make phone calls. Some of us give rides. And so on.
The point is, do something.
9. Pick your battles.
If you are an educator like me, perhaps focus on education issues. If you’re concerned about women’s reproductive rights, get involved with Planned Parenthood. If you care about healthcare, get involved on that front. In other words, don’t spread yourself too thin.
The three I mentioned are areas I care a lot about. Of course, I care about many issues, but picking a few to focus on helps keep me sane.
10. Support journalists and the free press.
This one is big, people. Dear daughter has a hard-earned degree in journalism and worked in the field for a few years. She worked her heart out bringing pertinent, timely and above all, accurate news stories to her readers.
I am offended when journalists (and others) are lumped together, attacked and referred to as the most dishonest people on the planet.
It might be time to support your local newspaper or subscribe to the New York Times, or whichever outlet you like and now read for free online. Perhaps write an editorial piece yourself in your local paper.
11. Run for office.
Yes, I mean YOU. And btw, there are too many older, white men everywhere in politics. Consider running for an office at some level, especially if you are a woman. We need more women running things. Lots more.
Let’s add to this list of suggestions.
So now it’s your turn! And happy President’s Day!
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. – Barack Obama