How Do I Get into Politics?

I am young.  I am progressive.  I am not yet cynical and I think I can change the world.  Before I get cynical, I would like to make a difference.  

I have thought about it a great deal and would like to get into politics, but I have no idea where to start.  I know that this is a long-term goal so I am not asking how to become a senator now, but how do senators get started?  Do I volunteer for a campaign and work my way up?  Do I find a paying job with a political organization, PAC, DNC, etc?   Do I just run for a very small office and prove myself by being great at my job?

Just a little about me so you can see where I am coming from.  I am a 26 yr. old white male.  I am 8-9 months away from a Ph.D. in chemistry.   After grad school I can go in any direction I want.  I will have total freedom to shape my adult life, but where do I start?

Any and all help, ideas and suggestions would be great.  

Tags: Employment, Future, Politics, progressive (all tags)



So Where do I start?

Everyone starts somewhere.

by CAchemist 2008-06-13 06:44PM | 0 recs
Run for office

delegate, local party chair/board, volunteer on a campaign, protest, write lte, vote, volunteer, register new voters...

by optimusprime 2008-06-13 07:07PM | 0 recs
Re: How Do I Get into Politics?

I'd run for a seat on your city council.  However, old people can be revolutionaries, so I take issue with your characterization of older people.  Further, I wouldn't use such talk in your campaigning efforts.

by masslib1 2008-06-13 06:44PM | 0 recs
Re: How Do I Get into Politics?

Unintended age-ism removed.  

I guess I meant and worry that if I start down a path that isn't politics now I will never come back.  With increasing age come more responsibility.  With more responsibility, it will be much harder to live out my dreams and not just stay at the desk job (or wherever I could end up).  

by CAchemist 2008-06-13 06:52PM | 0 recs
Re: How Do I Get into Politics?

I think it best to start out now, if possible, though people often turn to politics later in life.  Again, I suggest a seat on the city council.  The first thing you want to do is track down a council member and tell them you are interested in running for public office, and what issues are important to you, and what you bring to the table.  Seek out the advice of someone in office.

by masslib1 2008-06-13 06:57PM | 0 recs
Re: How Do I Get into Politics?

That makes a lot of sense.  I was reading the bios of the people on my city council today and noticed that one ran for public office the first time when he was 24.  Maybe I will set up a meeting with him.

Thanks for your advice.

by CAchemist 2008-06-13 07:02PM | 0 recs
Re: How Do I Get into Politics?

That's an excellent idea.  The mayor of Pittsburgh was on the city council. They had a special election for mayor there and he won at 26 becoming the countries youngest mayor.  Keep us updated if you decide to meet with this person.  It would be interesting to follow.

by masslib1 2008-06-13 07:07PM | 0 recs
kudos to you for wanting to make a difference!

by canadian gal 2008-06-13 06:46PM | 0 recs
Re: kudos to you for wanting to make a difference!

Thanks.  Blame Bush.  Without him, I would have never become so interested in the workings of government and the game of politics.  I guess he is good for something.

by CAchemist 2008-06-13 06:54PM | 0 recs
Re: How Do I Get into Politics?

Curious, which part of the country do you live in?

by IncognitoErgoSum 2008-06-13 06:49PM | 0 recs
Re: How Do I Get into Politics?

I live in southern california.  The LA area but not in LA proper.

by CAchemist 2008-06-13 06:53PM | 0 recs
Re: How Do I Get into Politics?

Okay, thought about it (and this advice will probably be worth what you paid for it). Where I'd probably start if I were you is by volunteering with any organization whose job is to register voters (and I'm suggesting that's something you could do now, don't wait until you finish your PhD).  That will get you involved in politics at its most basic level (because one way or another if you have larger ambitions you'll need to learn to how to mix with people from every sort of background).

So let's say you finish your PhD (congrats, btw).  What should you do then?  That's an impossible question, because a lot really turns on the kind of person you are.  Are you someone who has a lot of skills in leadership and organization?  Or are you more comfortable being an expert (someone who enjoys devising theoretical solutions to problems).  

This might sound totally off track, but have you thought about joining the Peace Corps?  Because while that might not seem like a way to advance your goals, if you want to "change the world" and broaden your mental horizons that's an excellent way to do it (that's also something which would allow you to make contacts and is a credential which would get you a lot of respect in Democratic circles).

by IncognitoErgoSum 2008-06-13 10:50PM | 0 recs
Re: How Do I Get into Politics?

Follow the standard path. Have Mom and Dad send you checks so you can afford to take the craptastic incomes a lower level person gets, if you get anything at all.

Wait, Mom and Dad (or uncle, etc...) can't afford to cover your expenses? Join the rest of us in the private sector, and accept the system doesn't want you around until your private sector connections = money.

Glad to help.

by ElitistJohn 2008-06-13 07:37PM | 0 recs
Re: How Do I Get into Politics?

I know that is how it works but it is just so cynical.  my parents aren't even close to wealthy so I guess I can take the super crappy pay.

I think heading to the private sector and finding the money is the path that does not lead to my political future.  In my mind, big money will lead to my complacency.

by CAchemist 2008-06-13 07:43PM | 0 recs
Re: How Do I Get into Politics?

This is not only cynical but inaccurate.

Bill Clinton didn't have wealthy parents to write those checks. Neither did Barack Obama or plenty of other folks.

by politicsmatters 2008-06-13 08:06PM | 0 recs
Re: How Do I Get into Politics?

i'm too cynicl to offer any advise, but wish you the best of luck anyway.

by citizendave 2008-06-14 01:53AM | 0 recs
Re: How Do I Get into Politics?

Pursue your chem-related professional career diligently, first and foremost.  On the side, in your available free time for the next 10 or so years, volunteer, pitch in with the local Dem party and try some grassroots organizing (using your chem expertise, if possible: for instance, you could try convincing people to ditch the plowing of toxins into the earth in the name of weed-killing).

But do NOT ignore your professional training in chemistry at any cost -- you have obtained a valuable skill that not too many people have -- serving in that profession in and by itself is an enormous service to society.  To paraphrase, they also serve who do science!

While your brain is still fresh and active, concentrate on the scientific part more than on the political scene.  But keep engaged in the latter too and may be when your brain is not so active, you can jump to politicking actively.

Bottom line is that your scientific training is too precious to give up without utilizing to some degree (pun intended, :-).

by DraftChickenHawks 2008-06-14 05:52AM | 0 recs


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