Times have been quite tough lately for a lot of people, including here at Metro State. The fate of DACA recipients is up in the air. Undocumented people face daily threats from ICE. I am worried about my fellow students.
To make a positive impact for yourself, your ideals and your community, you must have power. This is why students should get involved in politics.
To affect the policy changes you want, you need power; there is no way around that fact. Power means being able to influence your representatives at the local, state and federal level, and sway them to support your agenda.
You need to get to know politicians as people, and forge relationships with them. Even better? Get some of your own people in office by getting involved in political campaigns or running for office yourself.
Relationships are critical in politics. Know your representatives: city council members, mayor, state representatives and senators, and congressional representatives and senators. Understand their area of responsibility. Fighting for your cause will be a lot easier when you know who to talk to.
Make yourself an expert on your specific issue and know how to argue for it. Lobbyists are not dangerous because they bribe legislators; they are dangerous because they have expertise on specific issues that legislators do not. (Legislators are incredibly busy, and they don’t have the time, energy or staff to become experts on everything.)
More importantly, lobbyists are experts at making a case on behalf of their clients. They find the legislators who are on the fence, and push them to their client’s side. It won’t be easy, but try to be as prepared and persuasive as a lobbyist when you contact your legislator.
Not all hope is lost. If you are a constituent—meaning that you live in the elected official’s district—they will be much more open to talking and listening to you. In fact, the words “I am your constituent” may as well be a Harry Potter spell on Capitol Hill. Access is easier because elected officials actually do want to hear from their constituents.
When it comes to politics, if you are not at the table, then you are on the menu. So if you want a say on issues that matter to you, then you have to speak up. Take a little time from your busy student schedule to contact your local, state and federal elected officials.