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Politics can be a frustrating, dirty, and just plain rough. And even the most dedicated citizen can begin to develop a sense of hopelessness when the government is misbehaving, or refusing to do what is in the best interest of its constituents. But rather than write it off as a bad investment, it’s critical to do just the opposite – become an informed and active citizen, and ensure that your voice is being heard. For those of us lucky enough to live in countries that empower and encourage their citizens to be involved, it’s imperative that we heed the call. Here’s 10 reasons you should be politically active.

Only you can vote to have your interests represented

You and your neighbors may share some values, but it’s unlikely that your priorities will line up exactly. And so you can’t count on them to cast their votes for measures that will improve your way of life, or shore up values that you hold in the highest regard. You have the right to vote exactly as your priorities tell you, and that is a gift that shouldn’t be thrown away.

Taking action is a cure for hopelessness

Bemoaning the ineffectiveness of an administration, or complaining about the way a situation is being handled is all good and well, but it’s unsatisfying. Rather than wallowing in self-indulgent pity and hopelessness, take action to try to change the things you disagree with. The result will be a happier and more proactive you, especially if you manage to see any progress.

You’ll gain community capital

Maybe becoming politically active will allow you to connect with community members you wouldn’t otherwise have engaged with. From local to national issues, find groups of people that share a common goal and work towards it together – you’ll be stronger in a group, and you may find more success.

You have an incentive to stay informed

As you won’t want to step in to vote with no idea who the candidates are or what they stand for, you’ll have to make an effort to find out what’s going on. You’ll learn about issues that not only affect election outcomes, but also legislation that may impact your everyday life.

Make more informed decisions in other aspects of life

For instance, if you find that economic tariffs are hurting local businesses, you may decide to stop buying imported goods in order to shore up the local economy. Or if a food brand has ignored health and safety regulations, you’ll know to stop buying that brand. Staying informed will give you all the facts to work with in order to make healthier lifestyle decisions.

Seeking truth keeps politicians honest

If politicians weren’t responsible to their constituents, the result would be a collection of people wielding far too much power and working for their own benefit. Asking the tough questions and demanding answers force politicians to answer honestly and behave in the manner we expect of our leaders.

Learn to weed through propaganda

Also known as bullshit, propaganda runs wild, especially during campaign seasons. If you’re able to recognize what a party line is as opposed to an honest answer, you’ll not only be able to choose more accurately which candidate represents your views; it will also help when people aren’t answering honestly in other areas of your life. So maybe you won’t buy in quite as quickly when the used car salesman tells you that it’s perfectly OK for a car to have more than 300,000 kilometers on it – it just means that it’s run well for a loooong time.

If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain

This is a personal favorite – if you didn’t do your part to vote in the last election, you don’t get to complain about anything the administration does. Maybe your vote would have made the difference, maybe it wouldn’t have, but either way, you have to be involved in the process to get to complain about the results. And who doesn’t love a good gripe session?

Not everyone gets the same opportunity

Don’t take for granted the opportunity to vote, be politically active, and have your voice be heard. In countless countries, millions of people are denied this right. Specific minorities are shut out of the political process. If you are lucky enough to have been afforded the chance to be involved, it’s short sighted to pass it up.

You should have a stake in your future

Any which way you slice it, whoever is in power wields enormous influence in your present and future, regardless how you feel about the effectiveness of government. And since your future is something you should probably have a stake in, why would you not expend the time and energy to help shape it?

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