How to Make a Difference – Get Involved
Our power in our democracy comes directly from what we decide to do with our own voices. It is easy to feel like your voice and your vote doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
This is simply untrue. You can truly make a difference using the power you have.
The real power of your voice comes into play when you participate in our democracy. I have seen the voices of a few get amplified many times over by taking steps–some simple, some more involved.
Here is a simple path to amplifying your voice, your vote, and your will within our democracy. The more steps you take, the more impact your voice will have.
It’s hard to imagine but I promise you that anyone can do this. This information is the biggest revelation everyday people like you and I have had when deciding to get involved in activism.
If you’re fed up with how things are going, it’s time for you to be involved, too!
The 7 Steps of People Power
Step 1 – Vote
This is the first step. Make sure you are registered to vote and then follow through. All votes matter, especially at the local level. Elections are often decided by just a few votes.
At this point your strength of influence is now 1. Minimum time requirement: 1 hour a year.
Step 2 – Discuss Politics and Get Others to Vote
Become a advocate for education and change. Take some time to learn about issues that are important to you and discuss those with people around you. Be polite, respectful, and have meaningful exchanges with others. We need a culture encouraging political discussion, not one avoiding it.
While in these conversations, encourage others to vote. Offer to help them with voting if they need it.
The more people we have engaged in politics, the better. The more people who vote, the more democratic we become.
Your strength of influence is now 10 or 20 people. Quite a jump. Good job! Minimum time requirement: 5 hours a year.
Step 3 – Show Up at Local Political Events
No matter where you live, there are multiple political groups meeting in your area. Your discussions in Step 2 may help you find these groups. You’ll want to go to groups where everyone is welcome, so attend open meetings. Become a face that people recognize. Just showing up will let people know that you care and are paying attention. Oftentimes one group will introduce you to other groups. Once people realize you’re coming to multiple meetings and may want to get involved, your influence and your voice begins to amplify. Local politicians go to local political groups to understand the “will of the people”. These organizations host or work in conjunction with candidates or representatives, so you can often talk one on one with local, state, and sometimes national candidates or representatives.
This is one of the most influential steps without a lot of work. Your voice is no longer just one vote in a sea of other votes. You become a person, a constituent, and a real influence on local political issues and elected officials.
Places to start:
- Join Local Progressive Groups
- Local Democratic Party Meetings
- Town Halls
- Local Committee Meetings: City Council, Water Board, etc.
Step 4 – Become a Member of Local Political Groups
After showing up at local political events for awhile, your name and face will be recognized. This is a good thing! Now is the time to get more involved and actually become a voting member of these groups. As a voting member of a local political group you can help decide what issues they tackle, which candidates they endorse, and how to shape politics both locally and nationally.
Most importantly, if you participate in the local Democratic Party group you can now help to decide what issues and candidates the Democratic Party focuses on.
What to look for:
- Check for open Precinct Committee Person (PCP) spots. These will have you connecting with neighbors in your community.
- There are always committees that need more people. Volunteer for one or two.
- Ask about any open or at-large seats that need to be filled. Sometimes there are vacancies that you can jump right into.
- If none of those options are immediately available, find out when the party’s Reorganization is and run for a spot.
Strength of influence: Thousands of people. You are doing great work. Keep up the enthusiasm! Minimum time requirement: 4 hours a month.
Step 5 – Actively Participate in Local Political Groups
After becoming a voting member of a group, it’s time to actively participate in the groups. Share your opinions about issues and candidates. Use your voice to move the group to fight for the issues that are important to you. Draft legislation, find candidates for open seats, help candidates and issues get noticed by other members.
You’ve now moved beyond voting for one policy or another, you are making policy. This is how laws are made, this affects people’s lives.
You’re also not just voting for candidates, but finding candidates and helping to shape their policy and platform.
Strength of influence: Potentially tens of thousands of people. You are influencing and representing a large portion of the local population. Minimum time requirement: 10-20 hours a month.
Step 6 – Actively Campaign for Issues and Candidates
By now, you’ve become a living, breathing champion for causes and candidates. Find the issues and candidates you love and volunteer your time.
You can help create new laws and circulate petitions to get them on the ballot.
You can volunteer to help candidates through phone banks, canvassing, website development, social media, printed material, taking photos, videos…whatever they need. A campaign needs many volunteers with different strengths!
At this level you are literally influencing the law and the representatives that create the laws!
Strength of influence: Potentially tens of thousands of people. You are influencing and representing a large portion of the local population. Minimum time requirement: Varies greatly depending on the time of year and your level of involvement. Expect 20 hours a month or more.
Step 7 – Run for Office
The final step of being involved is running for office. As an elected representative you make the decisions about what issues are important to the area, and what laws and ordinances are passed. You have direct influence over the direction of the area for which you were elected.
It’s important to note that running for office doesn’t necessarily mean Senate or Congress. There are many local seats that don’t get much attention but have surprising influence on people’s day-to-day lives and end up driving the issues nationally. Some examples:
- School Board
- Water Board
- City Council
- District Attorneys
- Local House Districts
Sometimes smaller seats are uncontested and some are not even filled. But local seats are important because local decisions drive policy on a national level. Also, winning these seats creates a much easier pathway to some of the larger state or federal level positions, as you become known and your stances become known.
Strength of influence: Potentially hundreds of thousands of people. You are the decision maker representing a large portion of the local population. Minimum time requirement: Varies greatly depending on the position, the competition for the seat, and whether you’re elected or not. Mayor is a full time job, water board may require one night a month. Campaigning should be treated as a second job, but you only have to do that for a few months for local seats.
Your Power is Your Voice and Participation
It is easy it is to get involved, and being involved can provide an amazing payoff. With each incremental time investment your influence increases exponentially. However, it is completely up to you how many steps you would like to complete. Remember that each step is important! Also remember, even candidates and issues that lose get people talking about them!
It honestly amazes me how easy it is to do. You can learn as you go…it is OK to go in not knowing how anything works. A lot of us started getting involved after 2016. I realized I needed to do more. I needed to try to get this world back on track for myself, for my family, and for humanity.
I really wish someone would have told me these things long ago because I would have gotten involved in politics much sooner.
It really is easy to make a huge difference.