As Americans, we all want to contribute to the decisions that impact our country's future and our way of life. No matter your lifestyle, or what your idea of America's future is, getting involved in the decision making process is the best way to make your voice heard, and it's the first step in affecting real political change.
First, register to vote. If you're already registered, lead by example and always show up to cast your vote, encouraging others to do the same. Offer to guide new voters to the registration process and give rides to polling places and stay informed of election dates.
Consider becoming a volunteer deputy registrar by contacting your county's voter registrar and completing the required training to qualify you to distribute and accept a voter registration application from any resident of the county.
To learn more about registering, visit the Texas Secretary of State's website at www.votetexas.gov.
Get to know your elected officials on a national and local level. From the president to your local district attorney, all elected officials play a part in the political process. By knowing who to reach out to, and how to reach them, you can begin to address the issues important to you with your political representatives.
A list of your elected officials and their contact information can be found online at sites like www.usa.gov, their individual websites, social media accounts or your city and county websites.
Familiarity with new political candidates and incumbents is equally important during election season. Learn about the goals of candidates and review the actions of incumbents when deciding who will get your vote in the next election.
Change starts at home, so make a point to attend and participate in local meetings like city council, school board, and town hall meetings. If you're unable to attend after hours meetings, find out if meetings are live streamed online, or read about the meeting in your local newspaper.
Gather with like-minded people to promote the change you want to see. Joining together to attend meetings, represent important issues and advocate for change will encourage others to actively seek new ideas and solutions and help bring more attention to your cause.
Whether you're affiliated with a specific political party or prefer non-partisan groups, seek out groups that focus on values and issues that are important to you. Joining with established organizations and other voters is a great way to stay informed and connected while working toward a common goal.
Become an active member in your community and learn what issues are important to your neighbors and the area where you live. Whether their views are in line with your own or opposing, fostering open communication with people from different backgrounds and walks of life can put political matters into perspective and provide valuable insight into the needs of your local community as a whole.
Never stop learning and stay informed of the present and future political climate. Reading up on American history and civics can provide a better understanding of the inner workings of our government. Share that knowledge through respectful conversations with current and future voters, during voter registration drives, and community outreach programs.
Subscribe to a news source that you trust and support it. Journalism is an integral part of the political process and reputable news sources work hard to uphold the First Amendment, which not only defends American's basic freedoms of religion, speech and the press, but also the freedom to peacefully assemble and petition the government.
Remember that real change takes real time. While it may not always be seen right away, being an active participant in the political process, and inspiring future generations of voters to do the same, can and will affect change.
“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people...They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” - Thomas Jefferson
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