How Can Citizens Participate In Political Community?
We are all citizens in a political community (see previous question,) and thus have a responsibility to contribute towards a more just political community. This contribution can take many forms and will be different for different people. For simplicity we tend to think of these responsibilities as falling into three categories: awareness, activity, and advocacy.
As members of the political community, we all share a responsibility to be aware of the laws and regulations, as well as the public debate and discussion around the issues these laws address. We should take steps to become better informed but also consider particular areas or issues where we feel we are best suited, which could be by either proximity or relationship, to respond.
We can help fulfill our political responsibilities by remaining aware of particular laws and public discussions and sharing that knowledge with fellow citizens.
Being part of the political community involves being active. Voting the whole ballot is an important beginning to our activities, but it shouldn’t be the end.
We can assist in more organized activities like voter registration drives or commit to encouraging our neighbors to vote. We can sign (or even circulate) petitions on particular issues that we feel called to engage. We can attend school board or city council meetings and ask questions as well.
Our involvement can take the form of more direct advocacy. This includes everything from talking to friends and neighbors about the issues or contributing money and/or time to campaigns, political parties or advocacy groups. It can involve joining a political party or advocacy group, running for public office, or working for reforms.
Contributing to a more just political order is not optional for citizens, it’s a responsibility. It is unlikely that there is a lack of opportunity to get involved, but more likely a lack of priority. Good government requires good citizenship and good citizenship requires committed engagement.