For the longest time, working on a political campaign had always seemed like something for the elites. As regular American citizens, we are used to seeing wealthy political operatives or campaign surrogates, armed with political science degrees from premier universities, giving their pitches to the media. However, the rise of the digital age, combined with recent uproar against American leadership across the political spectrum, has led to more Americans, specifically younger ones, seeking to impact our political system. Here are three ways that anyone, regardless of age, wealth, or education, can be a big help to the political campaign of their choice. All you need is dedication and a willingness to commit your time for what you believe in.
Photo: Arnaud Jaegers on Unsplash
Despite the confusing name, canvassing is pretty simple. It’s the political practice of making direct contact with voters, most often through knocking on doors and talking to people at their homes about the positive aspects of certain political candidate. From personal experience, I know that during the months leading up to a major election, every campaign in the country will be in dire need of volunteers willing to go outside, knock on doors, and canvas. No matter how old you are,you can go online and find a political campaign that you identify with. Contact their volunteer coordinators (usually via email),tell them that you are a big supporter of the candidate, and offer to canvas for them. It doesn’t matter if the candidate is running for United States Senate or the state legislature--since the November 2018 midterm elections are so close, any campaign would be grateful for your enthusiasm.
2. Phone Banking
Phone banking is another easy way to get in contact with voters. All you have to do is get a list of voter phone numbers from your campaign and use a phone--it can even be your own cell phone--to call and speak to everyone you can. Most of the time, you will not be able to reach someone via phone, so the job might be as easy as leaving voicemails. You will probably be given an easy script to read, in case spontaneous phone conversations make you nervous. In an election season, any campaign will be in dire need for phone bankers. If you contact a political campaign asking to see if you can help them, there’s a high chance that they may invite you to make calls for them.
3. General Computer Work
Since much of politics these days is conducted digitally, this type of job spans many tasks, from looking up wealthy donors that may help finance campaign, to sorting through electronic voter lists so that you campaign knows where their likely voters are. I will admit that you have to be rather computer savvy to do computer work for a campaign (being good at Excel is the best), but the amount of individual impact that you will make is incredible. If you are a computer whiz and want to get involved in politics, don’t hesitate to contact campaigns to see how you can help. Mention that you are good with computers.
It’s important to know that these three jobs are not the only ways to support a political campaign. If you contact a campaign and they have you help in some other way, that’s fine. There is no “right way” to make an impact on politics. But regardless of where you stand, it’s important for youth to get involved in politics--our future is dependent on it!
Tuhin Chakraborty is an 18 year old freshman at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. He is considering studying History and Political Science there. His favorite book is Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert. Tuhin believes that success is gaining the respect of everyone who knows you. He steps up for Civic Engagement: getting young people involved in politics and community action.