How To (Actually) Get Involved In Politics Without Losing Friends
November 6, 2020
It’s been a biting year for politics and for those who are feeling charged up rather than burnt out from election day, perhaps now is the time to get more involved.
Signing petitions and engaging in social media arguments may feel like you are involved in politics by 2020's definition, but constantly butting heads with keyboard warriors can only add to the frustration.
And it hardly does anything to help impact change in your community or the world. (Um, hello, have you seen The Social Dilemma?!)
The truth is, we are all looking for ways to contribute to changing the world in a real and actionable way that can actually create waves of change.
The good news is that we don’t have to wait for election day to start cultivating the law of the land. We can start helping people and making a difference right now.
Ready to get involved?
Here are some ways we can start to truly take very real and actionable steps to becoming more politically charged and motivated.
Vet Political Campaigns Before Donating
You don’t have to be immersed in the world of politics or run for office to make a difference. Instead, you could donate to political campaigns that stand for something you believe in. Whether you have $20 or $2000 to spare, donating to a campaign is a real actionable way of lending support.
Although many people feel that money should be left out of politics, the truth of the matter is that we live in a money-drive world. With that, change comes with a price and political sway comes from spending power.
As they say, vote with your dollars.
Donating to a political party or campaign is a huge way of showing support for those who you want fighting in your corner.
That doesn't mean that we should just blindly to a political party without doing proper research to check that our earnings are backing campaigns we agree with and being used towards the greater good. Of course, we want to know about who is running for office and which group you want to support during elections.
But with the rise of the internet, there is also so much misinformation out there. (again, see The Social Dilemma)
Fortunately, there are tons of sites that you can visit to help you to vet political campaigns before you dig into your pockets. To fully research where your cash will be going, here are a few solid resources for researching different policies, politicians, or agendas before you donate…
Make sure that you know where your money is going. The first step you want to take is to research what you're donating to.
Donate To The Best Nonprofit Organizations That Impact Government Policies
Nonprofits and government often go hand in hand and are touted as being mutually dependable relationships. If you don't want to donate to politicians or a certain political party, then you can still have a major impact by contributing to conscious and positive policy change.
Many of these nonprofit organizations work tirelessly to change government policies both at the local level and national level with grassroots advocacy. These groups help bring government attention to serious causes that are otherwise overlooked.
So even if you never completed your voter registration or don't participate in elections, you can still help drive positive change by supporting organizations that do the hard work for you.
Whether your passion is environmental impact, equality, or immigration reform, you can help organizations that are working toward the same goals by donating either cash or time to their mission.
Here are a handful of incredible nonprofit organizations that actively fight for changing legislation and making the world a fairer place.
- Sierra Club
- League of Women Voters
- Environmental Defense Fund
- National Immigration Forum
- Equal Justice Initiative
- National Urban League
- National Women’s Law Center
- Social Workers Without Borders
Go Grassroots with Your Local Government
Activism and learning how to make a difference starts at home, where you can attend your town hall meetings and get involved in local elections and politics. A great way to get started is by lobbying your own city council, attending town hall meetings, conversing with local elected candidates, and even committing to election policies in your own city.
Getting involved in local politics, either as a volunteer or even running for city council, is a great way of using your energy in a non-vague and truly actionable way.
Get to know the issues in your city or community and start lobbying elected officials to make positive change. From something as simple as phone calls to volunteering to register voters in your city in the lead up to election day, what matters is being on the ground and wanting to make a difference.
Find Volunteer Opportunities In Your Local Community
Getting involved in politics doesn’t always need to be based on monetary contributions or even high-level campaigns. Connecting to issues in your local community or grassroots organizations is a great way to have a direct impact on the political world.
Volunteering at the local level or in local politics helps you connect with your community and channel your energy and resources into the things you are truly passionate about. Whether it's working with feeding and sheltering the homeless, setting up community events for kids, or helping women access support for domestic violence, there are sure to be endless volunteer opportunities just waiting right on your doorstep.
Here are a few jumping-off points for finding volunteer opportunities close by…
Get Involved in Online Communication
We are in an age of global information and we all know that anything can be found simply by typing a question into Google.
However, social media and Google algorithms already hold so much information about us that they tend to show us only what we want to see. Not only that, but much of what the internet says is total garbage written by literally anyone with an internet connection.
This can lead to a life living in an echo chamber as the search engines and social media feeds prioritize the ads, opinions, and think pieces that directly correspond to your click habits. Remember, Google and social media sites are trying to get you to click and stay engaged, not trying to inform you.
The best way to keep you engaged (and uninformed) is often to show you things that feed confirmation bias.
There’s little point getting involved in online communication with those who totally agree with what we are saying. Change comes from thoughtful and respectful conversation and this often means conversing with those who don’t always echo your own thoughts back to you.
But that doesn't mean joining a Facebook group filled with people that you're ready to argue with!
After all, often when we engage in political discourse it can lead to people being defensive and it can get ugly. But if you really want to make a positive impact in the world, then you're going to have to find ways to keep things civil and informative.
Here are some tips for engaging in political discourse in a way that can have a positive impact rather than turn into a negative brawl -
- Find common ground
- Practice active listening
- Focus on issues rather than parties or personalities
- Enlist non-violent communication techniques
There are forums and sites out there that do encourage healthy political conversation. We have listed a few of our favorites below…
Stay Informed on Real Events (Not Drama)
If you have ever been involved in online political debates, then you know how easy they are to get nasty. From internet trolls to inflammatory comments and the dreaded title of fake news, there is so much rumor, hearsay, and drama clogging up the world of news and debate.
Rather than a tumble down the rabbit hole, which will only drain your energy, it's important to find reputable sources for your news that keep you informed rather than inflamed.
It’s worth remembering that a lot of news sites and publications can be biased to align with certain parties or political beliefs so you may not be always getting fully balanced facts and figures unless you seek out independent reporting.
You can check out the following resources for staying up to date with events and you can even find local bloggers and reporters in your own area as a way of staying connected and up to date on home events and issues.
Run For Office
If you really want to get active and be part of long and lasting change, then you can also consider running for office to truly make your voice heard. By opting to start small, either by joining your local town council or even the local school board, this can be a great access point into the world of climbing the political ladder.
While the idea of running for office may seem daunting, you don’t need swathes of money or even to have all the knowledge and answers. All you really need is to care enough, connect with people, and do your research thoroughly.
After all, lots of young women are already making a huge difference, so why can't you?
Stock up on some actionable steps to prepping for office with these handy links and resources…
While being registered to vote and showing up is an amazing way to use a smidge of your power to fight for change, there are tons of opportunities to get directly involved and work for a world you want to be a part of. It’s important for us to use our privilege and our power to put into motion action and conversation that can help to tear down old structures that don’t work and to build up something beautiful and new.
From making small timely donations to making cups of tea for people in need or even just engaging in the art of conversation, no matter how seemingly insignificant, it's time to get out of the Twitter wars and into direct action.
You may be surprised by the many ways that you can make a difference, even if your favorite candidate or the elected official fall short.
After all, you don't just vote during elections. You also vote with your time, money, and action. So go volunteer with groups that make a difference or attend meetings at your local city council. Donate to candidates that you believe in and research more about the party you support.
There are so many ways to become involved with politics that span far beyond the latest election.
What tips can you share about getting more politically engaged? Share your thoughts and actionable ideas with us in the comments and let’s get working towards a fairer and better world for all.
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