Three Ways to Influence Government for the Better

In my last column, in March, I discussed the reasons why it’s a good idea to follow politics. This month, I’ll describe three ways to successfully instigate change. This is by no means a comprehensive list of what you can do to alter government, but it’s certainly a good place to start, especially if you’ve got a busy life and can’t devote all of your time to staging a political revolution.

If you were following along last time, you should now know a little more about politics, and therefore know the name of a politician or two. If not, you can easily find your local representatives via a simple Google search. Once you’ve located someone, find their contact information and write them a letter about an issue that is meaningful to you. Let them know how you feel, and how you’d like them to vote on the issue in the future. But avoid threats (if you don’t vote this way, I’ll never support you again!). They aren’t needed. Politicians generally take written correspondence from their electorate seriously — they typically think that if there is one person who feels strongly enough to take time to write about an issue, there are several more who feel the same way. And a group of people who feel strongly about something indicates an even larger group of voters who see things the same way.

The second action I recommend is getting involved locally. Find out the date and time of local council meetings, town halls, or political debates — and actually attend them. Talk to any elected officials or candidates that are available and calmly let them know how you feel, and then listen to what they have to say. It’s been said that most people listen to respond rather than to understand. By practicing a more mindful attitude, we can change that paradigm.

Finally, it’s well to remember a simple rule of thumb when you want to get to the bottom of something: follow the money. Corporations have a huge hand in the political process. They make and break elections. If you find a corporation that is supporting something destructive in government — and if you look, you will — boycott them, and let them know you’re doing it. Find like-minded people to join you.

By practicing these simple suggestions, you can make a difference. Sure, you may not bring about an end to corruption or the advent of world peace by next week, but you can change your little piece of the world. And, ultimately, that is how the world evolves — one fragment at a time.