During the recent Municipal elections I was asked many times what inspired me to run and be directly involved in politics at all levels.
I was never able to answer with a clarity that satisfied my reality. I offered a few words in passing that scratched the surface, but kept looking for another opportunity to further explain.
The starting point for my involvement was the realisation that by the time my daughter became an adult, the ongoing environmental catastrophe of our age would be beyond the tipping point.
My basic truth is this: after going to many protests, community meetings, signing countless petitions, writing letters to my representatives, I became disillusioned by this ancillary involvement.
It wasn’t working, doesn’t work, and will continue not to work.
This basic truth needs to be understood by all those that seek to influence their political systems.
So what does work?
Direct involvement works
The political system is fundamentally geared towards two phases: election and government.
During an election, every politician and party is at the mercy of voters and campaigners. There is no greater opportunity to propagate change than during elections.
During elections, the debate is fluid, public opinion is paramount, and people are more inclined to change their opinions and affiliations.
During elections, new ideas come to the forefront and real change can happen.
If you are looking to propagate change in government, look towards becoming actively involved at campaign time; it may be the only option to produce a lasting impact in our present world of political deadlock.
How to become directly involved
The first step is to actively support a candidate, party or campaign.
Decide what you want to influence and pick the team that best represents that. If no team exists that represents your views, consider running as a candidate. Watch out for those that will ask you to donate support strategically, make sure your choice really reflects what you want to accomplish.
Once you’ve decided who to support, join the campaign organising team. Begin to share media in your social networks and identify active supporters.
Make sure you vote, but beyond that, consider volunteering, canvassing and donating to support your views.
You will be astounded by the impact you will have, simply by showing up.
Experiences on being directly involved
I am unable to convey to you how much influence is possible from direct involvement. My own story of successes would need a novella to document to date, all accomplished in a very short period of time, and with little time and money.
I have been able to draft policy, lead public debates, become elected, overhaul a major party, and influence mainstream media, all the while putting immense pressure on elected officials, simply by being election-ready in a credible fashion.
The truth is: direct action during elections is what terrifies your governments most. They don’t want to see organised teams of campaigners in opposition to their views, in their ridings, at election time.
Protests, petitions, even recall campaigns and the like, are simply minor nuisances in comparison to what direct involvement at election time can do.
If you are discontented by your current political environment, look to join a campaign team to change it.
It’s lost on the average person that most campaigns are run by small groups of dedicated volunteers.
You and a small group of friends can have a very real and lasting impact if you choose to be involved.
Suspend your disbelief that change can happen, and get out to support the campaign that best represents your views.