Here are 7 simple steps you can take to refresh yourself and participate in our democratic republic.
Register to vote
Show up. There are 45 million unregistered eligible voters in the country. Don’t be one of them. If you’re eligible to vote, register. 215 million US voters can’t be wrong. Locate the registrar of voters in your state or county. Fill in the form.
Tip: An absentee ballot makes things simple and easy.
Time: 1 hour Frequency: Once Cost: Free
Get informed and stay informed. Find out who your congressman is, your assemblyman, your senators, your mayor. Go to their websites. Get on their email lists and follow their progress. Follow other political websites. Read political and opinion articles in major respected newspapers, listen to talk radio, watch cable and network TV debates.
Tip: Compare and contrast information sources.
Time: 4 hours Frequency: Once a year Cost: $50
Make a decision. Choose. Vote in every election you qualify for. Read the campaign materials and gather independent non-partisan information. Read the candidates statements so you are as informed as possible. Then vote. Vote for the best candidate, not the ticket, not the party. Remember, voting is private. If you have an absentee ballot, you can vote ahead of Election Day without looking for a polling station or disrupting your life.
Tip: Think for yourself.
Time: 2 hours Frequency: Every 2 years Cost: Free
Put your money where your mouth is. Make a small donation to your Congressman’s campaign. $5-20 is fine. If you believe in what he is doing, support his campaign. If you don’t, support the opponent or challenger. Remember, donations are public information. Follow the rules.
Tip: Donate small amounts to several candidates.
Time: 1 hour Frequency: Every 2 years Cost: $20
Take a stand. Engage where you are. Identify the laws you want to change. Talk to your friends. Then convince others to join you. Comment on a blog and sign a petition to support a cause or issue. Write your representative and voice your opinion. Attend a town hall meeting; attend city council meetings or a fundraiser. Serve on a local committee. Volunteer to help out on a campaign. Visit city hall, your state capital or Washington DC. Take a tour. Ask questions.
Tip: Volunteer, but only if you enjoy it.
Time: 2 hours Frequency: Every 3 months Cost: Free
Build a coalition. Start by focusing on the top three issues that personally affect you. Write up your issue, your position, your arguments and your facts. Resolve your position, clarify your arguments and win support from your network. Expand your base, increase your reach and share the cost.
You can lead it on your own.
Lobbying used to be only for the rich, powerful and the connected. But now anyone can do it. Grassroots activism does not require you to join a single-issue organization, a trade association, pay union dues or contribute to a PAC.
You can drive costs down by sharing resources and costs with thousands of other people focused around a single common issue. With increased purchasing power you can have the same influence as a special interest.
The benefits will include less time, less money, greater mobility, ubiquity, increased control, and getting laws changed. Every day, everywhere, lobby on the go.
Tip: Be honest and straightforward and you’ll be amazed at your results.
Time: 15 min. Frequency: Monthly Cost: $25
Lead. The world needs leaders. Run for office. Now that you’ve learned a lot and decided that you’re tired of someone less competent controlling the agenda, you should run for office.
If you are willing to serve and help other people then you will find that this is something that will become your life. You will want to do it all the time.
You will know this is for you because you listen to your supporters, you have the facts about solving real world problems and you are able to implement policy solutions.
At this point you will know if you have the political bug or not.
If you have issues, and friends and family that support you then this could be your ticket to political empowerment. Charisma and good speaking skills can come later.
Once you are in, there’ll be many people to help you to the next level. Good luck.
Tip: Don’t stay in longer than you need to.
Time: 8 hours Frequency: Daily Cost: $5,000+
 All estimates of time required, frequency and cost are minimums only.
John Thibault is the founder and CEO of iLobby. iLobby® connects you with other voters where you can debate critical issues, pool your resources and hire a lobbyist to represent you and your cause. Put simply, this is lobbying for small business and individuals. Find out more at http://www.ilobby.co
Start a debate to promote your cause and get the change you want. http://www.ilobby.co/debates
John worked in Governmental Affairs at MCA and served as the first VP Marketing and Business Development at eBay and Financial Engines.