How to Get Involved in Local Politics
When thinking about your political affiliations, do you favor one candidate or party? Do you believe that you and your influences are on the right side? One thing you don’t want to do is settle for what you can get from intimidating, confusing or controlling opposition voters. Political beliefs grow to millions mostly one-by-one. Being involved in your community’s local government is a form of service to others, and you can get involved in a variety of ways.
- Define your position on the issues and support the legislators who most closely represent your views. You will not see yourself represented well – unless enough people support, influence and help the right people into positions like city council, commissioners, district courts, legislators, elected judges -not just the executives (the mayor, county manager, district attorney or county judge’s office, governor or even president)!
- See what guiding principles are active before deciding which issues to support and what kind of changes are really the right changes? What changes will happen as a result of the reforms you vote for? Will these changes be for the better? Will there be some pain in the short run? Consider all of these carefully.
- Be a poll watcher which is an election voting observer. Sometime well before elections, contact the party or candidate that you support and volunteer to be a poll-watcher, if this is legal in your local election process.
- You would receive instructions about the duties such as watching out for wrong deeds like electioneering (standing between incoming voters and the polling booths with propaganda of any kind). You would not interfere but only observe and report to designated authorities.
- You should receive some identification for that candidate or party and the information about whom you would call or contact, if you believe there are irregularities or law breaking in the polling place.
- Participate in voting-place party meetings. These meetings take place for the purpose of deciding what will be on the agenda in the coming year, etc. They are often set up to be held at the end of the party primary-day so be at the polling place just before the poll closes to be admitted at each community voting place. (Some states use “town hall or caucus”–small convention style meetings–instead of individually balloting, so find out what time to be there to participate.)
- At the primary precinct meeting your polling place officers are elected, as well as delegates to the county meeting (at the county meeting they elect county party officials and also state convention delegates, etc.) and your issues (initiatives) are sent to the next level to be agreed upon or dropped.
- Local vote counting. In many locales, the voters can wait or come back on the actual election day to the polling place just before the poll closes on that election evening and go to the meeting to watch the vote count, talk, and learn about the procedures and opportunities to get involved now or for next time.
- Contribute to the local, county or state elections in many ways, as you donate, post signs, stickers, talk, etc.
- Become a better speaker/speech writer and practice on smaller groups before you move to larger responsibilities.
- To run for political office you must register with authorities for the office that you want to run for, then organize with a chairperson and treasurer and file these papers with the proper authority, learn about financial reporting, keep records and meet with interested people who can help or donate.
- Plan for campaign literature and a website: Design and get brochures, handbills, sign and posters. Plan for using a website; perhaps your county or state political party has a website on which you can get a webpage for your use.
- Be involved in local one-on-one by putting a personal face on the issues and talking with others to refine ideas, to guide and strengthen good values in your workplace, school, and home area – knocking on doors, registering new voters, phoning or helping with mailings.
- Volunteer, support and vote for the values most important to you. With individual work and effort, you reflect your values in local politics.
- Don’t fear, even if the opposition is elected. There will be another election soon, and you can try again.
- Don’t be disillusioned by politicians who may be romancing you and other members of some organizations, and clubs to further their own influence, but not pressing for “real improvements.” Following a person is not going to change the core of your existence, but if you begin to suspect this is happening with someone you supported, admit you backed the wrong horse and withdraw your support immediately. The wrong person in an elected position can do great harm.
- Avoid breaking promises by not making promises for “changes” that are virtually impossible – things that you actually do not explain very well. Then when elected don’t just say: “Oh it is worse than I knew, and we cannot do those things right away. We’ll do what we can.”
- Live by what you say you believe knowing that you will be judged accordingly by the electorate. Setting the example you hope will become the ideal is all you can really do. Don’t engage in behaviors that, if discovered, will undermine all the work you (and others committed to the same cause) have done.
- Tell everyone (give information to newspapers) that we need the right ideals. That will never come from bad politicians; rather, it will come from you and your ideals. When you’re talking about your views and it has engaged another person, then that individual will change the area around him or her. This can change the moral and social climate of any locale.
A good place to start is the county register of voters. Ask for a petition to run for the county committee of your political party. You will need twenty valid signatures, so get forty to be on the safe side. All your signers must be registered to vote in your assembly district. That is why you should circulate your petition among the members of the political clubs that you will be attending. At one club, I collected twenty-three signatures; twenty-one were valid. If you are lucky, seven or less candidates are running and you are elected. If eight or more candidates filed a petition, then your name will appear on the ballot and voters will vote for you in the primary. Once you are elected, then that gives you an opportunity to be a delegate to the annual state convention. You will also have an opportunity to run for the executive board of the county party. You will become well known by the activists and they are the ones you need to launch a political career.
- Opponents may continue in their hostility to good ideals in the home, school, workplace and streets. Instead of beating them physically or in arguments; you must win the minds of an individual in your community to then move forward – mostly one person at a time. The influence of individuals can improve your home, state, nation and even for many years to come (to the children and grandchildren).
- If you have weak influence in your community, the government can be quite hostile to your values. Yet that hostile government does not mean the death of good influence through you!
- How about being on the right side? Change in your locale does not depend on the one who is elected mayor or commissioner. It depends on those people following honesty and good morals.
- You are in charge of building your area but your ideals are in charge of you. It is your ideals that empower you to be able to survive hostile government that makes the wrong changes. You see this in history with the early messianic movement under the brutal Roman Empire for hundreds of years.
- Your politics can get growing: One-get-one. That one gets one, while you get one more. Soon it’s four. Four can become eight, etc. A movement can and will keep growing one-on-one even with your opponents in your face! We see it today in China where churches have grown to well over 100 million members in a few decades, and it has done so mostly without freedom, without television, radio, or books… You do not depend on the government or mass-media to reform politics either. Reform occurs when each one lives what they believe and shows and tells another about their ideas and purposes.
- In some localities, you can volunteer for an appointment to a board or commission. Check your locality for openings on a board that interests you: library, tourism, planning, museums, etc. Appointments usually last for a couple years, but serving can prepare you for local office!
- There may be one or all candidates who do not display authentic good-principles in their lives. There may be little hope to see the right changes with such greedy and self-serving leaders. If this is the case, you and your friends need to run for office yourselves.
- You can only expect to receive what each deserves (good or not so good) on this earth, as each of us work for the opportunities, as we work the good plan. Do not just depend on others or government–because if they fail, then there is only you to stand, live, work and be ready for your next elections to try again.
- If you think your help or your defeat comes from government and from a good president, then your hope is in a certain man, not in gradual progress. In the ancient times there were repeated warnings of coming troubles because the people had put their trust in kings and their other leaders rather than in serving a great ideal and never giving up.
- The right plan is not dependent on politicians, appointments or elections; it must depend upon persistence over the years to come, which is up to each individual. Don’t quit like some people who say “I’m out. I’ll never vote again.” Take courage and reorganize and go on working hard.
- Failure versus success: if the people, who are fretting, will persist, all things may be accomplished through their efforts in organizing, meeting and agreeing at the next opportunity and loving one another.
- Never forget: As individuals we all may pass from this life at any time. Make efforts toward the ideal and your ultimate victory can occur for the good! No one is perfect, but keep following your best ideals…