1. Get informed. Get off Facebook and get into a City Council or County Supervisor meeting at least once a month.
Anything other than cute pictures of kittens on Facebook. Skim the headlines of the opinion section in three newspapers or online twice a week. If you can’t go to a Council or Commission meeting, make time to watch City Council on TV instead of a reality show and you’ll be better informed.
2. Contact your City, County or party or candidate of your choice for volunteer opportunities to serve on committees, commissions, or campaigns.
Every City needs volunteers. Find a way you can pitch in. There are always positions that need filled, alternates to be appointed. Don’t even wait for an opening. You can even pick a commission and go to its publically noticed meetings and next time there is a vacancy you can hit the ground running.
3. Learn to articulate your perspective on local issues.
Too many people aspire to be national pundits on issues they really know nothing about or have any control over. We often end up simply parroting what we hear from people we already agree with like Rush, Maddow, or that idiot Hannity. Learn how to articulate your politics in issues that matter in your own backyard. Hint: these issues usually revolve around personal pronouns. Start with ours, yours, and mine.
4. Join a group or attend party functions.
There a scores of meetings every month in Contra Costa County you can attend. The Democratic Party is very active with Central Committee meetings, with local groups in Lamorinda and the Diablo Valley. Republicans and the East Bay Tea Party also hold frequent meetings, as does CocoTax, the County Taxpayers watchdog group.
5. Talk to your friends about voting, taxes, healthcare, and war.
These discussions don’t have to be arguments, but fact finding missions to see what people think. You might actually learn something from talking to your neighbor, kids, co-workers, or golfing buddies.
6. Help a candidate run for office this coming 2014 election season.
Walk precincts, hammer the phone banks, attend the campaign functions and pump signs in the air. You will have fun and meet other great, dedicated people.
7. Pick a cause and find a local way to help.
Hunger, shelter, seniors, homeless, taxes, war, health, education, environment, safety, budgets, non-profits, children, anon. There are local groups centered on each of these issues in your community. They are hoping you connect with them to help.
8. Learn to write about your ideas and beliefs and post them here in 400+ word articles.
Let’s be honest. Not everyone can string five sentences together and still make sense. But you can learn to do it. And, with limited space in the daily and weekly local print media making it difficult to get into print, Halfway To Concord offers a clean, well-lighted place to get a fair hearing for your ideas.
9. Learn the other side’s argument and talk to them and not past them.
Get past ideology. There’s a deep seated almost religious faith behind the worldview expressed in political and economic ideas. Try to learn what makes people tick. Discover what they care about (they do) the most. Find the common areas where you can agree. Pray for your enemies.