If you are the type to follow local and national politics obsessively, you might sometimes find it frustrating if you feel like things never change and bad patterns repeat themselves. So how do you find ways to get involved in politics to feel like you're actually making a difference?
Register to Vote!
For all the people who care about politics and are concerned with the way things are, it's amazing how many people aren't registered to vote, choose not to vote, or forget to vote. Real change happens in small doses, so if you're not thrilled about any of the candidates on the next ballot, abstaining from voting altogether is not the best way to enact change.
There are lots of ways to register to vote. You can do so at the DMV, for example, as well as at local voter registration offices, state-funded agencies that help those with disabilities, and armed service recruitment offices. If you are a student, you may even be able to register to vote at your school.
And if you aren't thrilled with the candidates, make a careful study of all of them. Vote for a third party or a write-in candidate. Even if the candidates don't agree with you on every issue, choose the ones that are most prepared to build long-term sustainable, healthy projects for your community.
Before the election, make sure you have researched all of the candidates on all of the issues. If you really get serious about this, this could become pretty time consuming, but it makes a big difference to try to read between the lines on what the candidates are actually saying. That is, you want to get good at spotting insincerity in a platform or evidence that the candidate is pandering to a sponsor or particular interest group. With some time, you'll develop a pretty rigorous understanding of all of the candidates and their motives.
This information shouldn't be hard to find. Just check out the websites for each candidate, party, and issue to find websites that offer comparisons on each platform and their long-term implications.
If you feel strongly about a candidate or an issue, canvas your community. Make custom signs for your yard and consider getting involved with a politician's office to volunteer to go door to door to engage with voters. But be prepared for some resistance and confrontation! You should only sign up for a job like this if you can be extremely even-handed and calm.
Write Opinion Pieces
One great way to spread good ideas is to write. You can write letters to the editor of papers or magazines, write articles for political websites, or start your own website. If you have a particular issue that you want to discuss, make sure that you have thoroughly researched it as this will give you a better chance of getting published somewhere impressive. If you are not confident in your writing, you can hire an editor or ghost writer who can help you.
Engage with Others in Dialogue
Though most people are disinclined to get into discussions with their relatives about politics, it's important that you try to engage civilly with others who hold different opinions. In fact, if you engage with others in a respectful and open-minded way, you are much more likely to encourage them to consider your perspective. The better you get at engaging with others in a respectful way, the more people you will be able to reach to discuss your ideas.
As we all know, when it comes right down to it, the most impactful thing you can do to support someone is to give money. If you are in a position to give money, make sure you are doing so in a responsible way. Research the candidate or cause, especially before giving a generous amount. You will want to pay particular attention to their track record on delivering on their promises and you will want to be aware of any questionable or controversial activity on their part.
Sometimes as an individual, it can be hard to feel like you are really making a difference on a bigger scale. Being politically aware and involved will not only allow you to make a bigger contribution to changing the world, but will also give you tools for your own self-improvement. It is always beneficial to be more informed, so the more you get engaged in politics, the more you can do to find opportunities to enact change.