Take time to sit down and decide what you believe in. These are core beliefs that transcend party lines and politics. Things that you will not compromise on. Consider their importance to you and to others. Consider how profound their impact is. Think about how often they will affect you and others. Write them down and rank them. Know what their importance is overall and relative to each other.
Go back to these principles and rethink and reconsider what they mean. Challenge yourself and continue to evaluate these beliefs. They will change and evolve. You may find that you remove some items from the list and add new ones. As you change and experience new things your ideas will change and grow with you. But always know what you believe in.
Always believe in yourself. Believe in each other. Believe in your community, your city, your county, your state, and your country. Believe in the power of self governance. Believe in our system of government. If you cannot believe in these things, then our society must surely fail.
Educate yourself on what is happening around you. Who are your elected officials? Who is representing you in your neighborhood association? Your community? Your church? Your city council? your county? Your state and federal government? What about your school board? Your union? Get to know these people. Find out what they stand for. Listen to what they say. Watch what they do. Compare their words to their actions. What do they believe in? How does that compare with what you believe in?
Talk with other people at work, school, and community gatherings. Talk to your family. Talk to neighbors. What is happening around you? What are current issues? What is important to you and to others?
Read measures, ballots, and petitions. Be sure to search for the truth. Information (and misinformation) is more accessible today than ever before. Discuss these issues with others. Listen to different perspectives and develop a well informed opinion. Share these ideas with your family and friends. Get others to engage as well.
Lobby. Talk to representatives and let them know what you think and why. Give them feedback. Let them know when you agree and when you disagree with them. Make sure they know you are watching and keeping score. Let them know that you will be voting for or against them based on their performance. Again, let them know why. Don’t make it personal against them. It simply has to do with your core beliefs and their performance.
You know what you believe in. You know what is important to you. You have studied the issues, you have watched your elected officials and considered all the candidates. You read the measures and evaluated their impact. You have done all the hard work. Now vote.
In the end, voting is the only real way to officially express your will and influence on the government. When you engage with others encourage them to vote also. Even if they disagree with you. How can our government be “of the people, by the people, and for the people” if the people don’t express their will?