Participating in American politics is a noble calling in my book. It is not something to give lip service to and forget about. You have to do something concrete and active to keep the system alive. It is wise to teach children the importance of elections and the democratic way of life when they are young. We can then replenish the constituencies who care about current issues and legislation on the table. One way to get their attention (from grade school through high school) is to have them help in a campaign for your favorite local candidate.
There is a lot of excitement hanging in the air at the candidate’s headquarters. People love the buzz. Kids can volunteer to man the phones, clean up after the volunteers come in, make coffee, or put up banners and posters in the immediate vicinity. Just give them a staple gun and let them loose. They love to meet important visitors and be part of the hundreds of selfies taken all day long. It is a very basic and simple way of making the introduction to real American politics on the smallest scale on up. They will learn to associate tasks with issues in the long run. They will see how grass roots concepts start and develop and how mainstream campaigns are conducted.
I am advocating perpetuating the system in this blog, of course, by starting with your children and those of your friends and neighbors. Kids can go door to door with flyers and to ask permission to put up lawn signs. Politics is not just an intellectual pursuit that is reserved for mere discussion and argument. It is very down to earth and tangible. Plus, there is nothing so exciting as election eve and waiting with fellow supporters for the returns to come in. Win or lose, it will be a memorable night.
There is a lot to be learned as you can see for people of any age, especially if it is their first time in the trenches. The camaraderie built by volunteers at headquarters and polling stations is infectious. People will want to come back for the next election and may become committed for life. They will never “forget” to vote again. Kids can learn to explain candidates’ positions to others, thus enhancing their communication skills and social aptitudes. They will become the voters of tomorrow. Plus, they will learn to care about their country’s future and how what is done at home or in Washington can impact their lives.
So start small and buy some staple guns. Then invite the youth of your region through their after school programs to join your campaign. Use an organizer who likes kids to lead the way and help these young volunteers find their footing. Children are impressionable and an experience of this kind can make a huge difference in building good citizens of the future. Getting involved in a political campaign should help kids earn extra credit in school as a kind of hands-on civics class. Talk to local teachers and spread the word.