Home > Uncategorized > BLOG 9: Political Involvement

BLOG 9: Political Involvement

It is commonly accepted, almost trite, that freedom of expression and information are essential to the operation of a government that truly serves its people.  But this freedom, for those who have it, is often taken for granted and used as a substitute for meaningful and effective political participation.

Reading political news and discussing political issues online are great things.  But they are only catalysts for political involvement.  Individuals may discuss their opinions to their hearts’ content, but unless someone decides to follow words with action, then freedom of expression is virtually useless in democracy.

Sometimes I think that the availability of information may actually have a detrimental effect on the exercise of democratic principles.  People may spend hours reading and debating and pat themselves on the back for being “informed”, but the point of democracy is to involve the people.  If the only people actively working in politics were the government, then we wouldn’t have much need for political information because it wouldn’t change the circumstances.  I like how Shirky puts it:

…social media’s real potential lies in supporting civil society and the public sphere-which will produce change…

In essence, I believe the Internet, social media and information in general are good things for the advancement of political ends.  They are, however, merely tools.  The public sphere, as Shirky says, is where change will happen.  Political involvement can take many forms.  It may start with volunteering for a cause you are passionate about.  As you work with an organization, you will learn more about how it is connected to policy and government operations in general. A cycle of learning, reading, discussing and acting will come.  They key characteristic for political involvement is that a person emerge from behind the screen and engage the real issues to verify, challenge or be challenged.

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  1. April 14, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Another potential impediment to so much information is that it might actually get in the way of getting involved. People may have trouble even knowing where to start.

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