It’s important to remember when we’re paying attention to politics that the local elections are where our efforts can have the most impact. Sure, we can get involved in a presidential, gubernatorial, or even some other state-wide campaigns and have a chance to be part of a big campaign, but there’s something about the local elections that I really enjoy.
On the local level, you get a chance to know your candidate. You have an opportunity to really make a difference. Real change in government starts on the local level, with our neighbors and friends working to make our communities better.
Today is election day in Georgia, and I’m not working my day job. I used some time off and have been standing all morning in the rain waving signs for a friend who is hoping to be the state representative from a new district that includes part of my home county. I don’t live in his district, so I can’t even vote for him; but I’ve been trying to help his campaign over the last few months because I believe he will do a good job standing for what’s right in Atlanta.
I’ve been talking to some other volunteers today, all equally frustrated at government and ready to help change things. They’re in the right place, because this change they seek won’t come from inaction.
If you’re concerned about the state of things, I want to take today to encourage you to get involved in a local campaign. Primary elections may be in the past, but there are contested races focusing on November. You could definitely have a hand in helping one of those campaigns between now and November.
You can help a campaign in several ways:
Give money. They all need it, and if you don’t have the time to offer, your financial resources will go a long way in a local campaign.
Canvas neighborhoods. I thought I would hate knocking on doors, but once I tried it, I found that knocking on doors is one of my favorite things to do. You’ll get a list of probable voters, and (for the most part) you’ll only be talking to friendly people.
Drive. One of the biggest aids to a group canvassing neighborhoods is a good driver. It involves picking people up, dropping people off, and keeping track of where you’ve been and where you’re going. It’s one of the easiest (and most valuable ways) you can donate your time to a campaign – and you don’t even have to talk to people.
Make phone calls. If a face-to-face meeting isn’t for you, talking on the phone is easy. They give you a script and a list of (mostly) friendly people to call.
Hand out materials at events. These campaigns participate in fairs, gun shows, parades, and all sorts of local gatherings. They are usually looking for people willing to just hand out information about the candidate when someone approaches the table.
Wave at voters on election day. This is what I’m doing today. It involves smiling and holding a sign and is another one of those things I was a little shocked to find out how much I enjoyed.
Whatever your skill set is, you can guarantee that a local campaign is willing to put you to work. Look in your area for a campaign to help. You’ll be doing the most you can to make a difference, and you’ll have a lot of fun in the process.