Civic Diary 7/15/2016

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

If you’ve been following my Civic Diary for any time you know one of my goals as an engaged citizen is to get connected to politics.  My attempts to connect with local groups was pretty scattershot, much of it because people kept moving the damn meetings.  Finally I found one by going to whatever I could and visiting a local political office.

So what I went to this meeting it was a kind of polyglot of local chapter meeting, club meeting, and a meet-and-greet of various officials.  I couldn’t see everything due to work, but I managed to finally network and connect and find ways to get involved.

  1. I’ll be going to a big meetup to get involved in Election 2016.  This is a specific date at a specific place for the specific purpose of different political groups coordinating.  I will go to this and state “I want to do this, now what.”
  2. I’ve got contact with a local party member to get more advice.
  3. I found a lot of local officials are pretty accessible, and got some insights on campaigns I may want to help with.

So finally.  Being civilly engaged in local politics.  The plan is to 1) Help with the election, 2) Network and connect, so that 3) I have a long-term plan.  #3 is almost certainly communication and/or recruiting.

Now that one hour I spent? Insightful.  I’m sure the things I share won’t be new to some, but they were pretty amazing to me.

There Are People Really Into It: Politics as a calling?  Yes.  People get into this like anything else.  It’s more than say a fandom (for some) but also there’s a calling/obsession/lifestyle/hobby vibe to it.

The Network Is Real: When I started doing my Civic Geek research, I began realizing just how much of civilization is due to groups and people getting stuff done that we don’t realize.  You see it at one of these political meetups as you meet local officials, see recommendations from organizations boost a candidate’s profile, and other such things.

You See The Bigger Network: Ever think politicians are distant?  Well it’s understandable in some cases.  However at least at this meetup I suddenly saw how politics itself is a giant Network of candidates, groups, donors, workers, and more.  I’m talking to people who worked with my state’s governor casually.  Now extend that further.

There Are Careerists And That’s Good: I totally support the idea of citizen government, but some people are career (or side career) in government and that’s good.  They build expertise.  They know how things work.  They have arranged their lives to take advantage of it.

There’s Ways In – But It’s Not Apparent: One of the things I realized is that, yes, there’s ways to get involved and get into office, but a lot of people don’t know how.  Where’s the instruction manual?  Here at this meeting I had an idea of how people did it – and how people not very political connected wouldn’t know when to start.  You have to work at it.

I Can See It’s Something I’ll Like: The energy of the meeting, the chance to make a difference, the engagement was something.  It felt the same way as helping at a con.  So I’m pretty sure after all this I’ll be doing political work as part of my life.

Definitely worth going.  I saw not a different world, but more saw the world different.

So for you?  Want to get involved?  Go to a local political party meeting.  It may just give you the opportunity you needed to make a difference.

See you at the phone bank – and next column!

– Steve