If you’ve paid attention to the news recently or ever, you’ve probably heard a lot of people talking about a lot of various political issues. Whatever your political leaning-- even if you don’t quite know where you stand-- you may have some questions about political involvement. Whether you’re passionate about a party, an issue, or generally unsure, politics doesn’t have to be intimidating, so tackle this topic.

First, media and sometimes the comment section on your Facebook feed tends to paint American politics as extremely divisive. This can be a little intimidating if you’re just wading in. However, in my experience, politics can be a lot more civil when you’re having personal conversations with your neighbors. Now, this is not to say that everyone is reasonable or civil, however, in my experience the majority of people are. For the most part, people who get involved in politics do so because they care. They want a better life for themselves, their families, and their neighbors. Whether I agree or disagree with someone’s policy positions, it’s encouraging to know that people care enough to take action.

Maybe you’re interested in politics, but you’re not sure whether your voice actually matters.  Can you actually make a difference? Yes you can. You’re voice is powerful. Often, people I’ve talked with tend to think of politics on a national level and activism as protesters with signs. While both of these things are true, state and local government also have significant influence over our daily lives and it’s often much easier to make meaningful changes at these levels. As with anything new, I’d encourage you to start small. I have had many productive conversations with elected officials at the state and local level on both sides of the isle. It is also much easier to find common ground on the local level. Not everything is red or blue when you’re talking about a new local ordinance or you’re state’s adoption policy.

Now you might be curious as to how you can get involved. If you already know that you agree for the most part with one party or another, plan to attend a meeting. The Hampton Roads area has local Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, and Green Party chapters that generally meet once a month. These meetings usually include a business meeting or a social gathering where local party members discuss upcoming events and activsim. Even if you’re not sure which party you align with, attending a few meetings is a great way to learn more about the party, meet some wonderful people, and get involved in electing someone you believe in or passing meaningful legislation. Parties will also help you learn how to contact your local, state, and federal representatives and may help you meet them face-to-face.

If you’re not interested in partisan politics or prefer to work on a specific issue you care about, or if you’re just interested in learning more about various political ideologies, there’s lots of ways you can do this. There are many organizations based all over the country that focus on one issue or a specific set. Whether you’re interested in gun laws, criminal justice, economic issues, education, the environment or anything else you can possible think of a quick google search for the issue and your locality will bring up a slew of groups. Many of these organizations hold educational seminars, grassroots lobbying campaigns, and even local social events to help connect you with other people who care about the same things.

How ever you may choose to be involved, I encourage you to do so. Often a few hours on a Saturday or a simple conversation with one of your many representatives can really make a huge difference. While politics may seem divisive or intimidating at time, it’s important to remember that people usually get involved because they care about their community. Just a couple hours out of your time can make a huge impact on many lives and it’s so reward to know you’ve made that difference.

Bonus Links:

Find your legislative districts and elected representatives  



R http://virginia.gop/get-local/

D https://vademocrats.org/localities/

L https://lpvirginia.org/local/

G http://www.vagreenparty.org/

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