I am often asked what the best way is for someone to get involved with their local political party (of all partisan persuasions). This question comes from people who are interested in someday running for office, or who simply want to help thier party’s cause in their town or county. The answer I give them is: “Just do it.” Too often, people who want to get involved in politics think that it will just “happen,” that someday someone will call them out of the blue and ask them to run for office or get involved in a campaign. This is simply not the case. The best way to get involved with your local party organization is to get out there and get started:
1. Go to Meetings
The single best way to get to know your local party leaders and candidates, as well as other activists, is to go to your town or county political committee meetings. These meetings are usually open to any member of the party, and provide a great opportunity for you to not only get to know other people in the party, but to learn about the issues facing your community as well. Call your local party to find out the time and location of these meetings.
2. Volunteer at Headquarters
If you want to stay on top of the latest campaign news, learn how to run a campaign, or are thinking about running for office yourself, there is no better place to learn than at your local party headquarters. Spend a few hours each week at “HQ.” You will start off stuffing envelopes and answering phones, but you will soon have the opportunity for more responsibility and access. Keep your eyes open, and learn all you can.
3. Work on a Campaign
There is nothing more exciting than working on a campaign. Call a local candidate and offer to volunteer on the campaign. More likely than not, the campaign will be glad to have you for whatever amount of time you can spare. During the campaign, you will gain invaluable political experience and contacts, and get to participate in the thrill of political campaigning. Volunteers do everything from planning events to going door-to-door meeting the voters.
4. Start an Affiliated Party Organization
If you are a good organizer and feel up to the challenge, think about starting a local political organization or club in your community. There are any number of clubs that you can start, as well as established groups that are looking to expand into new areas, including the Young Republicans or Young Democrats, party women’s groups, etc.
5. Get your Friends and Family Involved
Once you start to get involved in local politics, encourage your friends and family to get involved too. By building your own organization of committed activists, you can provide an invaluable service to the local party. Campaigns will know they can call on you to quickly raise volunteers or hold events. This is an especially valuable tactic if you are planning to run for office in the future.
6. Run for Office
The pinnacle of involvement in local party politics is running for office yourself. There are probably dozens of offices you can run for in your area — start off small and work your way up. Think about running for party offices — such as Democratic or Republican committeeman or committeewoman, as well as civic offices, such as judge of elections, school board, or town council. Call party headquarters to ask what offices are up for election soon, and whether candidates are needed for any of these races.
7. Stay Informed
As you volunteer, get involved, and run for office, make sure to stay informed about local issues, as well as new political techniques and strategy. Read your local paper(s) and regional magazines, and attend civic and town hall meetings. To receive the latest campaign tips by email, make sure to sign up for the Local Victory Newsletter.
If you truly want to get involved with local party politics, the time to start is now. Pick out a few of the techniques outlines above, call your local party, and tell them you want to help. Volunteer, organize, work a campaign or run for office… but whatever you do, start today.