Often, the political news we see every day focuses on the national and international levels of government. Because of this, local politics are usually overshadowed, and many college students know little to nothing about what is going on politically at the local level in their communities. Local politics have a direct impact on our lives, and getting involved can be a worthwhile opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of government and democracy.
But how? Never fear, fellow students: here are five ways you can get involved with local politics.
An obvious first step is learning who your elected officials are. It takes about five minutes to learn who represents you as an elected official at usa.gov/elected-officials. State and local elected officials are typically the people who make decisions regarding issues that affect our day-to-day lives. Knowing the names and faces of those people positions you as a more informed citizen, which allows you to better advocate for your needs as well as the needs of your community.
Once you know who your elected officials are, talk to them! Their job is to listen to you, so reach out to voice your opinions. One important thing to consider is that social media is typically not the best avenue to reach your representatives. Instead, try writing an email or picking up the phone to ensure your voice is heard. Not sure what to say? You can find scripts online to help make this seemingly daunting task as easy as possible.
It’s important to do your research. Educate yourself on the issues affecting your community and act accordingly. Seek facts and remain a critical thinker while staying up-to-date on current events in your area.
Be brave enough to voice your opinion, and compassionate enough to realize yours is not the only one that matters. If we truly want change, if we seek a better society, if we strive to be a great country, then we should not be afraid to talk about politics. Speaking up about the issues that matter to you is key to becoming an involved citizen.
Another great way to get involved with local politics is to volunteer! Sign up to help out with a city council or mayoral campaign. You can knock on doors, make phone calls, or hang up signage.
Now's the time to start getting more politically active, and you can elevate your activism by getting involved with local government.