It’s time to get involved in politics

Voting is not the only way for you make a difference in November’s elections.

Not everyone watches the news or keeps up with the White House drama. Nonetheless, in our current political climate, it is hard to avoid seeing what is going on in our country.  Many Community students complain about politics but do not actually act upon those views. It is easy to feel like we cannot effect change in our government, and therefore it is not even worth our time to try.

However, at this moment—especially with midterms approaching—officials are being elected and policies are being made that will affect our lives far into the future. Even though most high schoolers cannot vote yet, there are so many other ways to demonstrate our support for what we care about and change the minds of others who can put that support on a ballot.

The easiest way to start getting involved in politics is to inform yourself. Understand the issues and form an opinion. This may seem obvious, but it’s probably the most important thing you could do. Some topics can be complex or heavy, but by researching online or just talking to people you can learn more about different perspectives and get a better sense of your own views. The next step is knowing your representatives. You can find them here and learn how to get in touch with them here. Your officials do want to hear your opinions; their job is to act upon the will of their constituents.

Another way to get more politically active in your local community is to attend events like town hall or city council meetings. These meetings give you a chance to speak directly to local officials and hear their plans and initiatives for your community. They are also a great place to meet other politically engaged people and become familiar with political organizations in your area that you might want to be a part of. The City of Ann Arbor’s calendar shows upcoming public meetings here.

Participating in protests and marches is another great way to show your support and stand up for your beliefs. These demonstrations can start an informative dialogue between those on different sides of an argument. They give you a chance to be part of a movement that will actually influence the way people vote, whether it is this fall or any time in the future — they are also a lot of fun!

These are all pretty easy ways to get active in your political community. If you find that you are really passionate about politics and have some free time on your hands, one of the best opportunities for next-level involvement is volunteering for political campaigns. This way, you are not only making a real difference but also gaining a lot of knowledge and experience in the political world.

Community High School junior Roxie Richner worked on the campaign of Abdul El-Sayed, a progressive candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Michigan. She started as an intern but worked her way up to being a leader of volunteer orientation as well as a distributed organizing intern.

“It was like something I’d never really experienced before: getting to work with distinguished, older people, and having them take me seriously and value what I had to say,” Richner said of the experience.

Caring about politics does not have to be a big time commitment. It can be as small as watching the news every night to keep yourself up-to-date or as big as holding a position in an election campaign. Start or join a club at school where you can discuss and debate issues, or get a group of friends and attend a protest together. There are so many opportunities for high school students to be politically active and do real, important work. Politics may not interest you, but it affects you whether you like it or not. The best thing you can do for yourself is to stay engaged, informed and optimistic. And, of course, if you’re turning 18 on or before November 6th — VOTE!