Photo Credit: AP
Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting."
Contributing to the political dialogue is an important part of living in a working democracy and participating in it can feel rewarding.
As good as it is to cast your ballot, you may be wondering how you could possibly get more involved. Voting only takes a moment, so how should you spend the rest of your time as a concerned citizen?
Identify Your Representative
Sen. Ted Cruz (R, Texas) addresses voters during town hall meeting at the Lincoln Center on the campus of Morningside College - April 1, 2015 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Photo Credit: blogs.wsj.com)
Most people devote the bulk of their political attention to the presidential race, but local politics are equally important. Change in the political system cannot just happen at the top. It takes an equal effort on all levels of government to make a real difference in our communities.
OpenCongress.org will connect you with your local representatives and senators, even giving you their office phone numbers. All you have to do is enter an address and zip code! The website will even provide full bios on your representatives, their voting history, and information on bills that are up for vote now.
Petitions and Community Organizations
If there's a specific issue you're looking to tackle head on you might want to look into starting a petition. Petitions are a great way to not only enact change, but they also work to increase awareness for the cause you're fighting for.
Petition requirements vary based on location and cause, so make sure to check in with your local government website to make sure you're going about the procedure correctly. Petitions are easier than ever to get started thanks to advocacy websites like Change.org, which provides a digital platform for advocacy, and the White House's own petition site, We The People.
Host or Attend Fundraisers
President Barack Obama puts an arm around Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., as they walk off stage after speaking at a Democratic fundraiser Friday in Seattle. (Photo Credit: columbian.com)
For local politicians especially, hosting a fundraiser is a great opportunity to meet with other politically minded individuals in the community. You'll get a chance to share ideas and communicate one-on-one with politicians and their constituents.
They don't have to be giant ordeals, or even necessarily fundraisers. A simple meet and greet with lawmakers can be an excellent opportunity for voters and legislators alike. If you can't host one of these events, attending one can be just as beneficial.
Letters to the Editor
Media is still a great tool for political advocates. With the right platform and audience, a letter to the editor, blog post, or even one tweet can do wonders to get people talking about a topic and make progress on an issue.
While print media may be struggling, digital platforms are always looking for contributors and an election year is sure to be no different. Getting your point across in a cohesive and concise manner is important, but making the right talking points can do wonders for your cause.