There has been plenty of talk about what to do now that the election is over. Today I got a call from a longtime friend who shared this thought, “I feel the need to speak out about how I want our government to operate. I need to get involved. I’m just not sure how.” Many people are feeling the exact same way that this person is and they too don’t know how to participate in shaping the government they want.
The U.S. Constitution begins with “We the people…”. It does not begin with “I the King..” or “I the president…” or even “We the Congress…”. It is “We the people…”, it is our role and responsibility to help govern. It is the peoples government.
So I thought I should share with my readers some ways to get engaged from my book, The 7 Actions of Highly Effective Advocates.
1. Believe. First, one must believe they can make a difference if they participate. Cynicism is for the hopeless. Belief is for the hopeful. Only through speaking out on the issues you support and encouraging other people to do the same can you really make a difference.
2. Stay informed. Read newspapers and magazines, join social media groups and find blogs that help you stay abreast of issues concerning you or your business. Check websites of organizations that produce studies on these issues to supplement the information that you receive from the media. Use your search engine for more in depth research or new sources for your subject. If you are interested in monitoring legislation go to www.Congress.gov.
3. Discuss the Issues. Share the information amongst peer groups and friends. Talk with them and listen to their views about these issues. Start a discussion in your social media groups, your workplace, school, social circle, etc. Sharing opinions and insights will help you shape and refine your own beliefs. Even those people whose opinions oppose yours have valuable points of view. Discussion is the first step toward finding the truth.
4. Get on the Record. Write letters (or email) to your local officials on the topics that concern you. Voice your opinion by writing to editors of the printed and e-press you read.
a. Write or send articles written in your industry or about your special interest to local officials or editors.
b. Submit written reports about significant issues discussed within your organization to local officials or editors.
c. Organize letter writing campaigns to government representatives.
d. Form a coalition of local industry or special interest colleagues to respond to legislative issues. This has proven to be effective, especially at the local level.
5. Vote. Register to vote and keep abreast of local issues affecting you. Many people vote in the presidential election every four years, but issues such as school administration, property taxes and zoning laws are decided in local elections and impact you significantly.
a. Encourage individual political action when legislators are addressing important issues.
b. Get out and Vote! Create a “Get Out The Vote” campaign, assisting people with information on voting, where to vote and when.
6. Volunteer. One of the best contributions you can make to a political campaign is your time. You can answer phones, post yard signs, and disseminate. Contact your local political party office for volunteer opportunities. Go to your search engine and key-in your ‘county name’ followed by ‘party name’ and you’ll find links to their local office(s).
7. Put your money where your mouth is. If possible, you can contribute financially to a candidate, your state or national party, or special interest cause. Many local parties have special events or dinners with candidate appearances. Levels of participation at these events may vary depending on the level of donation.
It is important to engage and become communities of concerned citizens. Best wishes for a great 2017.