Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty – Thomas Jefferson
No matter if you win or lose, there is no finish line in politics. The world is constantly changing and the only way to stay on top of your local political field is to stay active.
Luckily, both the state party and your local volunteers have made furthering your political education easy. An evolving platform requires continuous education and there are options ranging in price and accessibility for all levels of constituent. If you’re an PCO looking to stay up to date on the latest issues, an elected official looking to build your platform, or just a voter wanting to stay current, here are some resources you should be aware of.
#1: Join a Committee
If you’ve ever been to an LD or County general meeting, you might have noticed these events tend to be very dry. Roberts Rules of Order reigns and most of the work is politicians speaking and committees giving reports of their actions. This might drive some people to wonder, where does all the work get done?
The answer is simple: Every LD and County has committees devoted to topics ranging typically from resolutions, endorsements, diversity, social media, and so on. At these meetings, typically held once a month, members like yourself can really delve into their passion and bring it to the party. Research, discussion, and debate is encouraged and actions like public outreach are taken to further spread the message of the Democratic party. Try attending a variety of committees until you find the one you feel you fit in best, then get to work.
#2: Online Education
Maybe you want to run for office but you still don’t feel comfortable. That’s alright, the national Democratic party has put together a website dedicated to giving you training at your own pace.
At www.traindemocrats.org, you’ll find a host of classes that are designed to be quick and easy to understand. The best part about this site is that it is free to use and share. It teaches you how to manage a campaign, raise funds, get your message out to the people, and formulate the best strategy to win.
#3: Find a Mentor
Stepping into a party leadership position can be intimidating. Before you take the plunge, test the water by asking to shadow an established party leader and work alongside them. See what it’s like to chair a committee, manage a budget, or organize an event. Find out what goes into a position you are interested in, then decide whether to run for it in a year or two at the next reorganization meeting.
Don’t be shy to ask, as most party officials run unopposed and often step up because no one else has. A healthy dose of interest can do a lot to reinvigorate a tired Democratic party. A mentor can even bring you along to a state party meeting, executive board meeting, or the like to give you a chance to see how things work behind the scenes.
#4: Work with an Organization
Sometimes you won’t find your passion in committees but in special interest groups. Maybe your passion leads you to volunteer with the ACLU, NAACP, or another acronym organization. Groups exist for every issue under the sun, and they are working hard every day to make the world a better place.
Contact them about volunteering through their website, or find a member of your LD who already works with the group that interests you. Whether you want to volunteer your time, education, or activism, there’s a place for you in enacting real change in the local community.
#5: Camp Wellstone
At a national level, Camp Wellstone has been teaching people for 14 years. They offer classes in how to be a campaign manager, a candidate, a grassroots organizer, or data and technology leader for your local party. Classes typically take place over a weekend, and are held in different cities all over the nation.
Often people will fundraise to afford the classes, or create scholarships to help members get the training they need during a time when it might not be easily affordable. The classes are highly regarded and a great way to increase your knowledge and put it to work at your local party.
Learn more about the program at www.wellstone.org.
No matter what path you choose, keep active. Politics is not a spectator sport, it’s a team sport where every position matters, from the organization chair to the committee volunteer to the PCO. Whether you’re a grassroots activist planning a local protest or a Twitter-savvy member finding new ways to increase the party’s digital footprint, you’re moving the party forward.