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Being politically aware is more important today than ever. In fact, in 2014, one in 10 Americans were politically disengaged. This is a large group of bystanders that, if politically aware and active, could have voted, and we may not have been in the poor political climate we are in today. Equally as important, actively taking part to combat the injustices of current politics is a highly effective way to reverse infringements done to human rights. However, in the day and age of fake news and alternative facts, it can be challenging to get to the truth of what a politician does and says.
Understanding how to become politically aware and active can be hard to do with misinformation and echo chambers. Understanding how to properly educate yourself to become politically aware and involving yourself in politics to actually get things done should be a duty undertaken by everyone. Take a look below at how you can pinpoint flaws — including your own biases — in political arguments, and what you can do to instill moral ethics and values back into politics.
Become Well Educated
Educating yourself is the first step in making the transformation from an indifferent bystander to making a change in the world. It will also allow you to have a firm political standing and form your own understanding of what you feel about a political issue while not being duped by fake news or alternative facts. Educating yourself correctly involves understanding your biases, consuming reliable information, and possibly even receiving a formal political education.
In many cases, however you fall on the political spectrum, you may be in your own way when it comes to getting to the truth of many political issues. Often, we can fall into the trap of closing ourselves off to political beliefs that don’t align with ours — only reading news sources and having conversations that back up our biased opinions.
Putting ourselves in an echo chamber is dangerous in perpetuating false narratives, and ultimately never getting to the truth. Putting your personal beliefs aside makes it much easier to start receiving the truth from reliable sources of information.
In the internet information age we live in today, there are thousands of sources you can choose to get your information and news. While a majority of these sources aren’t flat out lying, they do skew information in ways that fit their political agenda. One way to get outside of your echo chamber is by reading multiple news sources, opinions, and views, so you understand political issues from all angles.
Additionally, some sources check the facts behind what politician say, as well as provide unbiased information on contested political issues. Finding reliable information sources is valuable in knowing what is really happening in our political climate.
For a comprehensive understanding of how you can become politically aware and active, you could go to college. What better way to learn about politics and how to get involved than to learn about these things in a formal setting? Many politicians have gone to school for politics or related subjects to be as well versed as they can be when they gain office.
Anyone can go to school to achieve a degree in social work to understand social policies, economics to understand the fiscal challenges of our country, political science to understand precisely how political processes work, or any similar field. In our country, the tools for becoming a politician are accessible to most everyone. It is up to you to take advantage of education so you can be on the same playing field to fight for ethical political policies against otherwise morally questionable politicians.
Get Involved in Local Politics
If you become knowledgeable in politics and hotly contested political issues, you now can apply this knowledge to understand how your local politicians are making decisions that affect you directly. Knowing the motivation behind how your city council members, mayors, governors, and senators pass legislature can help you determine if your local politicians have your best interests in mind. Understanding your local politicians in this way is the difference between letting someone else control your life, and you taking matters into your own hands to shape a future that is best for everyone.
You may recognize that getting involved in local politics is important, but perhaps you think that contacting your local politicians will not get anything done, or you may just not know how to get involved. Always remember that elected officials work for the public, i.e., you. And that it is the public who controls if an official will stay in office or not. So, it behooves them to listen to your concerns.
Contacting your local officials is easier now more than ever. A quick lookup of your local officials can help you understand their political values and what legislation they might vote on. A telephone call, email, even social media can help you reach an elected official so that your voice is heard. To become even further involved, attend some town hall meetings to understand the debate about legislation. You can also contact your elected official before they vote to influence which way they will lean on a local bill.
Becoming politically educated can help you understand which issues you would like to change. Contacting your local officials can start change locally. But, there is no better way to get involved and make a splash than to actually put boots on the ground. Volunteering, helping a political campaign, and attending rallies and events are all ways you can raise awareness and change immoral political values.
You may have done your research and found that the politician who is up for election has similar political values to your own. This is an opportunity for you to offer to go door-to-door raising awareness for them and hand out fliers. Attend rallies and events, both locally and nationally, to make your presence felt about injustices.
It should be noted that demonstrations can become dangerous, and even deadly. Some injuries may require immediate care so it may be prudent to have an urgent care plan in action. In some cases, you may choose to travel to foreign lands to show support for a cause. If anything goes wrong, no matter where you are, you may need to travel for care, as many underserved areas (potentially those you’re attempting to raise awareness for) might not have proper medical resources.
If you would like to just get out and make a difference in your community, you can volunteer at a church, homeless shelter, school, cultural center, or even overseas to join a cause you feel strongly about. There are many ways you can get involved, it just takes a little bit of research to find out what causes you would like to raise awareness for and/or help organize.
The political climate today is a clear sign that we cannot sit idly by while politicians are acting in their own best interests. The information above can help you become more politically aware and active so that you can start getting the bad politicians out of office while electing the good ones. It is up to the public to make a world that is safe and friendly for all, so press your politicians to start acknowledging your concerns and voting on legislation to do so.