Growing up, I never had much of an interest in the government and politics as well as how they affected our society. During the rise of civil activism in mid-2020, I started to realize just how important it was to be involved in political events, and that even at my age, I could help do things that make a positive difference. It's no question that our generation has the ability to make things happen, and here are a few steps you can take to become a proponent of that change.
1. Register to vote (and actually do it!)
The best way to make your voice heard is through regular voting, in every election, not just the big ones. In the 2020 Presidential Election, only 48% of 18-24-year-olds voted. It is becoming increasingly common for results to come down to just a few points, so voting is an incredibly necessary act. You can register online in under 10 minutes at no cost. Here’s the link to register to vote in Kentucky: https://vrsws.sos.ky.gov/ovrweb/.
2. Know your elected representatives and how to contact them
While we cast our vote for them, very few people know who their elected officials really are and what they stand for. It is always important to research the candidates and vote based on policy not party. The representatives’ jobs are to speak on behalf of the people, so in cases where change must be enacted, be vocal to them about the situation and how you feel.
3. Volunteer for campaigns and advocate for issues you care about
A huge part of what makes political campaigns so successful are the people who make them happen. If there is a candidate with platforms that spark your passions or resonate with you, volunteer to work for their campaign through canvassing, mailing flyers or other tasks. Stand up and speak out for issues you are passionate about, which can be done through platforms like social media, verbally expressing your opinions in conversation or even attending/organizing rallies, walks and peaceful protests.
4. Get involved with local organizations
There are a plethora of community, regional and statewide organizations that fight to bring about change. These vary from city councils, town hall meetings and even PTAs. These are all tools that when utilized, can be beneficial to your cause and advocacy. For University of Kentucky students, there are several on-campus organizations, such as College Democrats and Turning Point, that provide a community of like-minded individuals that strive for political progress.
5. Educate yourself
I have often found myself watching political debates and commentary on television and Googling things that I don’t understand. Taking steps towards political literacy is so important, and doing personal research and education is a fantastic way to expand your collection of knowledge, as well as make it easier to be an advocate for issues you care about and to inform others of current political events.
UK has a fantastic collection of resources to utilize, here is the link: https://polisci.as.uky.edu/useful-websites