How to get Involved in Democracy When You (yes YOU) are a Young Person
Hey everyone, it’s Friday! Which is obviously your favourite day of the week. Now, we know what you’re thinking: ‘there is no way this day could get any better. If there is, I’ll drop kick my phone into the Thames.’
Well prepare to pop by the nearest EE shop to pick up a new contract, because we’ve got some news for you. Today is also the International Day of Democracy! A day that promotes peaceful democracy and all of the privileges and rights it ensures.
Granted, we’ve probably overhyped the rowdiness of the occasion, but it does give us a prime opportunity to tell you how you can get involved in the democratic process. It can often feel like an alien concept when you see MPs debating, we dunno, agricultural trade agreements in Parliament, but we assure you, democracy does begin with the people.
These are some easy ways to be a part of Democracy.
Register to Vote
It sounds obvious, but if you’ve been on this earth for at least 18 years then please, please (please) register to vote. Cynics out there might say, ‘your vote doesn’t matter’/’your vote makes no difference’, but that’s not true.
In general elections in the UK, you vote for your local MP, not the candidate for prime minister. These are often decided by smaller margins, so your ballot really can make a difference. Local MPs do a lot to shape where you live. Don’t miss the chance to vote for the candidate you think will make your neighbourhood a better place.
Plus, your MP will hold regular surgeries where you can pester them about stuff like bin collections and potholes. Now that really is democracy.
Register here. It takes about five minutes.
Join a Society
If you’re currently at university, then get involved with a society – think Afro-Caribbean societies, Muslim societies, debate societies, vegan soc, chess club and so on and so on. These are the places where ideas can be fostered or challenged, where alliances can be made, and where beefs can be settled (peacefully, of course).
Some of the fiercest political debates in the country were born out of the concerns of students. Right now, the issue of no-platforming – as in, not allowing people with extreme views to speak on a campus – at universities consistently pops up in the national press. It encompasses concerns as vital and far reaching as freedom of speech, discrimination and equality. We’re all talking about it, no doubt, because of the efforts of a group of students.
If there’s an political or social issue that you want to address, university is a good place to start shouting about it. Who knows how far it could go?
Got a problem? Are the bins piling up on the street? Are buses too expensive? Is the community centre closing down? Then do something about it. We’re not going to offer you a fantasy and say you can solve any issue just by complaining and whining and stamping your feet, but we guarantee that not doing nothing is always better than doing nothing at all.
So write to your MP, go on a protest, volunteer, campaign door-to-door, start a vlog, nag the council on Twitter, vote, do it all. Democracy starts with you, and it’s easier to get involved than you might think.