Every decision, bill and law made by the government is under constant scrutiny from the public. The choices made by administrative officials symbolize the voice of the people who elected them. Despite our involvement in our representative democracy, many people feel absent from the role of government decisions and act as if there’s nothing to be done to change them. History has demonstrated how false this belief is; the dismantling part of the patriarchy and obtaining the right for women to vote is but one example. We the people have every tool at our disposal to create the country we want to exist in, the imperative thing is to know what these tools are and how to utilize them.
There are multiple ways to demonstrate if you’re in support or in protest of any policy or message produced by any significant individual. An impactful way that often gets news coverage are rallies. Marches are usually peaceful events and bring communities together, often filled with a variety of people all with one united message. The Women’s March is a recent example of how influential protests are. This was a march whose mission was to bring awareness to women’s issues, some of which women felt threatened under the current administration. The event originated in Washington D.C., however was mobilized across the United States and all over the globe. On January 21st, there were about 673 marches with roughly 4,956,422 people among them, according to the Women’s March website. Above all, these rallies have demonstrated a willingness to fight for their beliefs and a right to want change. From the Montgomery Bus Boycott that eventually led to the end of segregation on buses to Gandhi’s Salt March, which led to India’s independence, organized protests are an excellent method of activating change.
Calling your congressional representative, your governor, your senators or any other public official is a definitive way of getting your point across. Multiple phone calls from constituents to their representative are difficult to ignore and bring whatever issue they are discussing to the top of their agenda list. Although emails and letters are also forms of communication, calling is more effective in getting your message passed along. When a representative receives multiple calls about the same issue, their decision on what to do with drafting or scraping a bill or making a vote can be swayed. Your representative, governor, senators and the like all were placed in their positions by you to represent you. Therefore, they’ll listen to the words you have to say and the policies you agree and disagree with and keep those conversations into consideration when making their decisions.
An excellent method of circulating a message and engaging more people in the decision making process is to publicize your opinions. In our current era, connecting with others is easily accessible through social media sites and the Internet in general. Tweeting and posting messages on Facebook, such as a candidate’s policies or a bill that will be voted on will encourage more people to state their opinions, and hopefully fuel the discussion through educating. Blogging and writing letters to the editors is an additional practice that can reach more viewers nationally and globally. Getting these opinions and messages shared may recruit people to become active agents in the government or grab attention from multiple administrative officials. Other modes of publicizing include signing a petition and creating advertisements, the latter of which has been in an aspect of elections since the 1950s.
One of the most imperative things to do if you want your voice to be heard is to elect the candidate who best represents the ideals you believe in. Knowing who all the candidates are and what their platforms entail are crucial to making the right decision. Candidates will often be publicizing their policies through speeches on television, radio and at rallies and you’ll be able to better grasp their message through these channels of communication. While there are also quizzes you can take to discover which candidate best aligns with your ideals, it’s better to read up on who else is running for a position as to gain a more comprehensive understanding of everyone. Additionally, a common belief is that your vote doesn’t count. This was an issue of concern raised as a result of the presidential election, in which the results of the popular and electoral college votes were different. While the electoral college does matter greatly, every individual and their respective beliefs still holds importance. Never underestimate how far your vote will go.
In order to understand government and the intricacies of how it’s run, you should volunteer and be a part of the entire process. Volunteering can make a difference in your community as well as the country, and will enlighten you on prominent issues. Not only will volunteering allow you to try and fix problems within your community, it also connects you with others who also care about the government and wish to make a difference. Connections can also be made with members of government who you may work alongside. These members can give you opportunities to influence a representative or get an established policy idea off. With these experiences adding to your contextual knowledge and the connections created, you will have more insight on how to navigate governmental roles and their subsequent decisions. Here is a website that will grant Minnesotans volunteer opportunities for government.
While there are far more actions that can be taken, these are five primary tools that can easily be undertaken and are all at your disposal. Never believe that you cannot take part in the decisions being made about our country that affect you greatly. Everyone can have a role in our government, but it’s how you chose to utilize that role that makes the real difference.