Updated: Jul 27, 2020
When we are talking to young people around the country, one thing that they repeatedly tell us is that they don’t know how they can get involved in politics. So we decided to dedicate this article to explaining the best ways to get involved in politics for the first time. It’s crucial that young people understand politics and understand how politics impacts us and how we can impact political decisions. It can, however, seem a daunting task at first when thinking about how you can get involved. So here are some top tips to get started.
1. Start Small
Whilst changing the world is something that we recommend you work towards, it isn’t going to happen overnight. Starting in your local area and working up is how most people’s political journeys unfold because making a difference in your local area is one of the most important and accessible parts of political activism.
Learn who your MP and local councillors are because this is a great way to see what is going on in your area and finding what needs to change. The most important thing to remember is to not be scared to contact these people. Remember that they work for local people and are there to help; you’re entitled to their time as much as anyone else. Furthermore, when getting involved in local politics, you will meet all kinds of people which can open up future opportunities.
If you want to get even more involved in your local area, you can join a political party or local community. Going to meetings and speaking to people is a great way to both learn about the issues in your area and share your own ideas on how things can be improved. An example of these groups would be your local youth council or debate club.
Think of your political journey like a tree. Start with the roots in your local area and build through knowledge and connections until you reach the highest branches of politics.
2. Be Open-Minded
It is crucial that you don’t pigeon-hole yourself into a belief system. One of the biggest issues in politics around the world is that too many people are more loyal to their ideology than they are to solving the issues we have productively. By attaching yourself to a ‘team’ and then fighting blindly for their ideas, you can stop yourself from seeing solutions.
Entering politics presents a great chance to learn about issues with a clean mind, you have no biases to a certain group or individuals and can look at things with a fresh perspective so use this to your advantage! Do not be afraid to ask questions and be curious, find all kinds of opinions and talk to as many people as you can. Remember that you can learn something from anyone and that everyone has a unique perspective. Then rationalise these opinions and come to your own conclusions. Look at things with kindness and rationality and you cannot go far wrong.
Also, remember that there are lots of events around the country that you can attend to hear speakers, meet new people and get engaged. Even if you aren’t massively interested in the topic or theme, you never know who you may meet or what you may learn. Many of these events are free and are a fantastic way to learn about new issues and listen to people with great experiences. Do not be afraid to throw yourself in and get involved.
3. Find your cause
Finding a cause that you care about is one of the best ways to enter into politics and social issues. When I was 16, I started learning about both nuclear weapons and LGBTQ+ rights. I could not believe that we lived in a country where there wasn’t more talk of nuclear disarmament and where LGBTQ+ people could not get married. These were the two issues that spurred me on to take more of an active role in political issues and current affairs.
These issues may not impact you in the same way that they impacted me, but you may already have something that you care deeply about. If not, I guarantee that with some research, you’ll find one.
Once you have found a cause you care about, the possibilities are endless. You can work to become an expert on that issue, reading all the key texts and listening to all the thinkers in that field, you can join or start a pressure group that has goals that you want to see achieved as well as protesting, campaigning and debating the issue so that you make it as important to other people as it is to you. There will be plenty of like-minded people who will share your passion, so find them and campaign together as there is always power in numbers. Politics is about passion—finding an issue that you care about and then seeking a solution. There are lots of problems to solve so you won’t be short of things to do!
Hopefully these three pointers have given you some idea of how you can get involved in politics. It impacts almost every aspect of your life to some extent and, therefore, it is crucial to have some idea of what is going on in your local area and around the world. Nobody expects you to be an expert (after all, very few people are) but making an impact does not need to be revolutionary. Start small, find something you care about, and be ready to learn.
What did you think of our list? Have you got any more tips? Be sure to leave your thoughts below or get in touch with us on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.