I did not grow up in a political family. We voted but we did not debate politics, the candidates or the issues at our dinner table. I was always under the impression that others were involved in that. You know the kind, political science majors. Those friends who pop popcorn to sit down and watch what the election returns, like many watch the big game.
I used to take great joy in getting one of my college roommates riled up by just yelling out, “Democrats suck!” He would take off on this rant explaining views, history, direction and why his party was great and the other was awful. I was at that time, and still am, an independent.
In today’s polarizing political environment, I want to yell, “Both parties suck!” This may be shortsighted since we all voted portions of them in or did not even register to vote. One thing I have learned is that I am in the political system just like you and we all need to be a part of the process, regardless of the political parties we affiliate with.
I am actually excited about one thing in this political environment: increasing political activism. As I work to grow my association leaders and help address the many issues facing Indiana, developing political advocates has been good. I have learned along the way to know who my representatives are and I have introduced myself to them. I have also expressed my interest and concern on a variety of issues throughout the year. I have even made a political contribution. I know this may seem like “baby steps” to many, but it does show growth.
It is a strange conundrum to stay out of politics; advocacy actually affects the process by letting others involved influence the process. Your opinion will never be heard if you don’t share it. Taking no action is a choice that has an effect as much as taking action does.
The steps I use when working with my association members can work for you personally too.
- Review your high school government/civics class topics. Sing the Schoolhouse Rock song “I’m Just a Bill.”
- Find out who your lawmakers are in your community, state and workplace.
- Mail your lawmakers letters, email them, come to the statehouse and ask to see them. Let them know you care and want to meet them.
- Express an opinion like a civil human being. They are people too; treat them like you want them to represent you.
- Pay attention to the issues.
- Attend a local meet-and-greet; give a contribution; bring up a concern; thank them for serving. I promise you’ll grow in the process.