Politics can be one intimidating sport, but enacting change may not be as daunting as it seems. Here are five ways that you can jump right into politics in 2013:
1) Join an organization that tackles your interests, and climb the ladder.
The easiest way to get more involved is to seek out an organization that best fits your interests. Once you get involved in such an organization, you will be greeted by continuous updates on causes that strike your fancy. Organizations will send out their event calendars to members all of the time but many people just glance at those events and then hit the delete button. Paying membership dues does not make one an activist. Activism requires constant work. Joining an organization is a good beginning to becoming a political activist but the real work is in landing a leadership position within that organization. Once you can earn a seat on the board, you will have the opportunity to inject your passion into action. So, change out of your pajamas and into something you don’t mind sweating in.
2) Call out the partisan bull and demand change within your own party.
Face it, your party isn’t perfect. Party platforms may get close to nailing down your political ideologies, but chances are that the hammer slips and you find yourself with a sore thumb and utter frustration at party leaders enough of the time. Don’t accept it. Accept this: you deserve better. With the rise of the Tea Party, we saw the Republican Party successfully move further to the right on fiscal and social issues. The Occupy Wall Street movement did not have the same success within the Democratic Party. I’m not sure that that was Occupy’s purpose (and we can have a later conversation about whether it should have been) but they failed at one important task and that is putting up candidates based upon the movement’s central goals. If you’re an Occupier, maybe run for office as a Democrat and attempt to sway the conversation. For future movements, as well, join your respective party and then fight the causes through petitioning your congresswomen and men.
3) Get a Twitter account.
Want to talk about direct action? Join Twitter. And, no, I do not work for Twitter, but it is true that bombarding elected official’s personal accounts has an astounding effect on enacting change and I find that hard to deny. Twitter allows you to endorse or condemn actions and words of elected officials and candidates at the speed of your fingers. It is the easiest way to get involved in the conversation and meet other like-minded people. But it is also an easy way to build up “arm chair” activism, cue number four.
4) Turn online movements into real life mobilization.
When you get fifteen re-tweets on a tweet you sent about how annoyed you are with the partisan gridlock with three typos after a night of drinking, it isn’t hard to feel overzealous. News flash: you’re fired. Activism requires of you to donate your heart and your undivided time for it to be truly successful. Make showing up to a rally your main cause. Organize at the grassroots level – you will be surprised at how many people and even organizations will step up to the task when they find motivated activists. Laziness is easy for organizations to fall into when there appears to be no interest in human mobilization. Don’t let that happen. Not up to organizing on your own? Get involved in local political campaigns. They are a fantastic way to get recognized and do justice to your cause.
5) Reject the status quo.
Cute, I know, but I’m unsure that there is a better way of eloquently encouraging people to make noise. Find something that just is not right by you? Call it out. Make people listen to you. This is a spirit that transcends every bit of advice that can be given to people interested in becoming more involved in politics. Change happens when people refuse to stay stagnant.
Moral of the story? Shake things up in 2013. Happy New Year to all!