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8 Ways to Get Involved in Local Politics

Regardless of what you believe about politics and politicians, local politicians are often much more beholden to their constituency than national politicians. It seems the higher up the food chain you go, the more the politicians are not only corrupt, but they’re often spoken for and bound to the special interest groups that helped get them where they are. You see, on the way up, people aren’t the only ones who politicians make promises to. A special interest group is a group of people or an organization seeking or receiving special advantages, typically through political lobbying. Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence the actions, policies, or decisions of officials in a government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Lobbying is done by many types of people, associations and organized groups, including individuals in the private sector, corporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or advocacy groups (interest groups).

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T.D Jakes said “Jesus told the church to go into all the world and somehow we [interpreted that to mean] bring the world to church.” With so much disenchantment about politics going around, it’s easy to throw your hands up and be totally done with it all. The flood of information in this day and age makes following conflict of any kind exhausting. While that’s understandable, it hasn’t been so exhausting that people have stopped spouting off at the mouth about the current state of affairs. Political memes and rants on social media timelines abound.

All that said, talk is cheap, and internet talk is cheaper. Local politics are the best place to have the kind of impact that affects your day-to-day life. If you’re looking to get active, LocalVictory.com is a website that exists for one reason—to teach candidates, campaign staff, political organizations, volunteers and activists how to win political campaigns. They have some great pointers on how to get involved in your local political party:

1. Go to Meetings
The single best way to get to know your local party leaders and candidates, as well as other activists, is to go to your town or county political committee meetings. These meetings are usually open to any member of the party, and provide a great opportunity for you to not only get to know other people in the party, but to learn about the issues facing your community as well. Call your local party to find out the time and location of these meetings.

2. Volunteer at Headquarters
If you want to stay on top of the latest campaign news, learn how to run a campaign, or are thinking about running for office yourself, there is no better place to learn than at your local party’s headquarters. Spend a few hours each week at “HQ.” You will start off stuffing envelopes and answering phones, but you will soon have the opportunity for more responsibility and access. Keep your eyes open and learn all you can.

3. Work on a Campaign
There is nothing more exciting than working on a campaign. Call a local candidate and offer to volunteer on the campaign. More likely than not, the campaign will be glad to have you for whatever amount of time you can spare. During the campaign, you will gain invaluable political experience and contacts, and get to participate in the thrill of political campaigning. Volunteers do everything from planning events to going door-to-door to meet the voters.

4. Start an Affiliated Party Organization
If you are a good organizer and feel up to the challenge, think about starting a local political organization or club in your community. There is any number of clubs that you can start, as well as established groups that are looking to expand into new areas, including the Young Republicans or Young Democrats, etc.

5. Get your Friends and Family Involved
Once you start to get involved in local politics, encourage your friends and family to get involved too. By building your own organization of committed activists, you can provide an invaluable service to the local party. Campaigns will know they can call on you to quickly raise volunteers or hold events. This is an especially valuable tactic if you are planning to run for office in the future.

6. Run for Office
The pinnacle of involvement in local party politics is running for office yourself. There are probably dozens of offices you can run for in your area — start off small and work your way up. Think about running for party offices — such as Democratic or Republican committeeman or committeewoman, as well as civic offices, such as judge of elections, school board, or town council. Call party headquarters to ask what offices are up for election soon, and whether candidates are needed for any of these races.

7. Stay Informed
As you volunteer, get involved, and run for office, make sure to stay informed about local issues, as well as new political techniques and strategy. Read your local paper(s) and regional magazines, and attend civic and town hall meetings.

8. Do It!
Don’t wait. Benjamin Franklin said “You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.” If you truly want to get involved with local party politics, the time to start is now. Pick out a few of the techniques outlines above, call your local party, and tell them you want to help. Volunteer, organize, work a campaign or run for office… but whatever you do, start today.

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About Captain O.G.

Captain O.G. aka Lavoisier Cornerstone is the founder and CEO of GrowTheHeckUp. He's a hip-hop artist, activist, public speaker and teacher from Brooklyn, NYC and now resides in Houston, TX. His music videos have been featured on Worldstarhiphop.com, ThisIs50.com, Rapzilla.com, and AllHipHop.com. Lavoisier is passionate about music, technology, and education. He was mentioned in USA TODAY by activist and former White House special adviser, Van Jones, for his activity in the world of startup culture, and his work with children, teaching them how to code.

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