The political scene has changed a lot since the last presidential election, most noticeably in the way in which we elect people. Between the wars in the middle east, the economic downturn, the deficit, the viability of the U.S. as a contending power in the G8 and the world as a whole, we as 20 somethings are no longer looking at the same future our parents thought we would inherit.
Primarily, becoming politically active requires taking a position on the big ticket issues and policies facing us. Of course there are then all the hot button issues that have plagued us for the past generation as well, such as abortion, gay rights, religion and politics, the environment, etc.
Secondly, you have to asses what level of commitment you’re willing to make. Myself, I am happy to broadcast my opinion even if it is bipartisan/Independent, work on a campaign, maybe even run in one myself some day, but then I have a personal inner need to leave a mark on the world. For the people who aren’t looking to make politics their life, bread, and butter, there are plenty of other options.
For the lowest level of commitment, you can sign petitions, vote and give money. These require nothing other than getting online and finding a cause. You can write a check and mail it to your politician or local lobbyist group without so much as leaving your house, and it is the same with electronically signing a petition. Voting is what our system is founded on, and as one of my professors informed us in my Intro to Political Science class at the University of Minnesota (GO GOPHERS!), one single vote made the difference between whether the official language of the United States was English or German. Imagine how different our history would have been if we spoke German as a nation.
If you’re willing to make a slightly more in depth commitment, you can write letter to your congressperson. Many of the politicians who voted down the $700 Billion bailout bill did so because their constituents sent angry letters. If they receive enough of these letter, it makes a difference in their vote. Additionally, you can talk to friends about your positions. You would be amazed how many people in our age group have no opinion on politics because they feel like they have no stake in it. Political decisions and representation plays a stake in everyone’s lives, and all you have to do is figure out how. That is why I started http://www.lipstickpolitix.com because politics shape and form our country and every citizen should be well informed. If I can reach out to 1 person a day that is all I need to do to change the world and help people learn about politics in a way that suits them best.
Then there’s the more activist approach. I spent three days walking door to door in Minneapolis, MN last summer trying to raise money for a government funded youth program for developmentally challenged children. The walking door to door proved to be outside my level of interest, but there were plenty of people working for causes and love doing what they do. If fund raising isn’t your cup of tea, you can do similar jobs collecting signatures for petitions. This simply requires talking to strangers instead of friends and figuring out their position on one issue. If they agree, then you have a signature.
For the incredibly avid political junky, you can join a campaign. When you work to elect someone else, you are responsible for the visibility of your candidate in your immediate area. This can take the form of sidewalk promoters, envelope stuffers, even just doing basic office work at the local campaign headquarters. This can also mean being a strategist, a speech writer, a political consultant, and with the right introductions and networking habits, could lead to a position in the politicians cabinet where you can begin working on the issues that made the platform your candidate ran on. In the most recent elections, many politicians have relied heavily on the internet to promote their candidacy and platforms, so tech savvy politically minded people have their own niche too.
Finally, you can run for office yourself. Mayor Brian Zimmerman was 11 years old when he was elected the mayor of Crabb, Texas in 1972, and there have been 36 mayors in the United States under the age of 32. Additionally, you only have to be 25 years old to run for the United States House of Representatives.
In the end, getting involved is as easy as looking around you for a cause and deciding you want to get involved. Then it’s simply up to you to decide how involved you want to be.
Together let’s make politix fashionable,