How to Involve Yourself in Politics as a Young Person
You've probably heard adults talk about politics before. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the current political climate. Some people think that the US government is doing a superb job. Some think it's not very well executed. Either way, many adults believe that what's going on politically is important. This isn't only because adults are weird (though that may also be true). It's because of how the government affects everyday life. Being involved in politics gives you knowledge of and control over your own life experience.
Right now, you might be thinking that the government doesn't affect you. After all, you can't vote, you can't drive, and chances are you don't have a full-time job. You probably have many people telling you what to do and think which may make it seem like it doesn't matter who's running the country. However, the government has a massive impact on your life too. For example, if you attend a public school, you should know that education is an area of government. Federal, state, and local governments decide what school district you are in, what you are taught, and how much teachers are paid. The government also makes sure that clean air and water are accessible, that unethical behavior (e.g., murder) is illegal, and that people have the right to vote once they turn eighteen. If you've ever wanted to see a change in your school, neighborhood, state, or country, being informed and having opinions about political issues, having political discussions, and volunteering for campaigns can help you make your idea a reality!
The first step to getting involved in politics is getting informed. If there's an election happening (this usually occurs every two years), do some research on who's running for what position, and figure out whose policies you agree with. To take a closer look at your opinions and beliefs, explore websites like The Political Compass or 9Axes with a family adult. Once you've found a campaign you feel drawn to, you can usually find information about volunteering on the candidate's or party's website. You might also want to write to the campaign, asking about events in your area or how to connect with other supporters. When writing to a campaign, always include how old you are and why you feel drawn to its message. When volunteering for a campaign, it is easy to feel powerless because you might not be able to help in some ways because of your age. For example, text banking and phone banking might be out of your league for now. Still, there's usually a way to help. Even the smallest supportive act, such as telling a friend which candidate you support and asking whom they support, goes a long way. If there isn't an election, there are other ways to voice your opinions, such as calling or emailing your senator (every state has two) or your representative (every district has one).
To develop your political views, it is immensely important to be able to connect on a human level with others, share your political views, and be able to respect, honor, and learn from their point of view. Once you've found some points of connection (maybe the YACU Discord server), start a conversation by asking people about their political leanings and sharing yours. The goal of the Young Americans Coalition for Unity is to empower youth to engage in political discussions without losing human kindness. When sharing your beliefs, make sure to (1) be kind and respectful to others, and (2) share your reasons for your opinions. To learn more about ways to involve yourself in politics, make sure to explore the YACU website, your state government's website and resources, and any youth-oriented political opportunities in your area.
To be good citizens and leaders, it is necessary to learn to engage with those who think differently from us. Our generation will one day be leading the country, and problems such as discrimination, climate change, gun violence, and (yes) pandemics are not going anywhere. Sharing ideas, maintaining kindness and respect, and learning from different perspectives will be our only hope. Getting involved in politics will help you change both yourself and the world for the better.