At its base, political activism means being an active participant in the political process. By voting, lobbying, working for a campaign, volunteering or protesting, citizens exercise their right to civic involvement. In this Political Activism Web Guide, learn about the voting process and voter registration, or find a campaign, party or cause to volunteer in. This is the perfect place to research political activism, from community information to the ins and outs of running for office.
Before you start working for change, you need to identify the political issues that matter to you most. The following Web sites contextualize major political issues of the day. Learn about how the current political landscape functions and how to get involved.
- An organization you currently support may be linked up to other campaigns and advocacy programs that will interest you.
- For a broader guide to what's going on politically, read the findingDulcinea Politics Web Guide.
It goes without saying that voting is one of the most important principles of democracy, and should never be taken for granted. Fortunately, the Internet can help you find ways to protect your voting rights, either by voting yourself, or by helping others register and get to the polls.
- You can register to vote at the DMV when you go to get or renew your driver's license.
- Don’t procrastinate: in some states you have to register months before you can vote.
Lobbying is the process of encouraging elected officials to pass certain legislation. Although it has the potential to enhance democracy and involvement in government, it can also be abused. The following sites help you understand how lobbying works, who's involved, and how you can advocate important issues.
- Chances are that whatever issue is important to you already has an organization dedicated to lobbying for it. Check at the University of Massachusetts's directory of lobbying Web sites.
- If you're a member of a labor union, your organization and/or chapter may be focused on lobbying for certain types of legislation. If you want to get active, contact union leaders to learn how you can be most helpful.
The average political campaign needs two things: people and money. If you've got time, financial resources, and a passion for politics, these sites can help you learn how to support your party or program of choice.
- In addition to volunteering for a campaign, you can also volunteer for someone who’s already in office. If you’re interested, check the Web sites of your state and local governments for lists of officials and their contact information.
- Volunteering opportunities are particularly plentiful on college campuses. If you’re a student, look for clubs devoted to the Republican and Democratic parties. You’re likely to find resources for third parties as well, along with clubs dedicated to specific political initiatives.
The following resources can help both first-time and seasoned politicians looking to campaign effectively. Use these tools to manage a multifaceted campaign, and to reach as many voters as possible.
- Consider doing some off-line research. Read How to Run for Local Office: A Complete, Step-By-Step Guide that Will Take You Through the Entire Process of Running and Winning a Local Election by political consultant and former mayor Robert J. Thomas.
- You’ll need to declare your candidacy and report on your campaign using official government forms. For information on filing, visit the Federal Election Commission, where you’ll find regulations and downloadable forms. For local forms, check your local government Web sites or offices.