"Everyone can be great because anyone can serve."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King said that you don’t need to have a college degree or understand the Second Theory of Thermodynamics to serve your community. Everyone’s got something to contribute. We all have a stake in our communities and our nation, and we can all hold our elected officials accountable for making them better. Here’s how:
Access background information on issues addressed by Common Ground Solutions, along with related news articles and opinion pieces.
Improve your media literacy. Learn how to choose reliable sources and call out fake news when you see it.
- Two fact-checking experts gave some tips to NPR.
- Commonsense Media explains how to teach media literacy to your kids.
- Go a step further and take a class on fact-checking offered by Poynter.
How Government Works
Need to brush up on how American government and politics work? Here are some good places to start.
- The Constitution Center: The Constitution of the United States, along with interactive resources
- USA.gov: Infographic on the 3 Branches of the U.S. Government
- USA.gov: Infographic on How the Supreme Court Works
- Whitehouse.gov: Description of the Executive Branch
- Congress.gov: Overview of the Legislative Process
- Scholastic.com: What Do Parties Stand For?
- National Archives: What is the Electoral College?
Voice of the People
Common Ground Solutions frequently works in partnership with Voice of the People, a non-partisan organization affiliated with the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. Voice of the People sponsors in-depth ‘policymaking simulation’ surveys on critical public policy issues with thousands of registered voters who are given briefings on policy options and evaluate pro-con arguments before making their final recommendations.
On issue after issue, Voice of the People’s surveys have shown that common ground exists, even if it is drowned out by partisan shouting. Click here to find results from Voice of the People surveyson:
Take a simulation yourself.
Connect to Policy Makers
- CNN: 25 ways to be politically active (whether you lean left or right)
- U.S. House of Representatives: Find Your Representative
- U.S. Senate: Senators of the 115th Congress
- League of Women Voters, Find Your Elected Officials
- U.S. Conference of Mayors: Meet the Mayors
- USA.gov: Contact information for local governments by state
- The Florida Senate: Effective Communication With a Legislator
- Union of Concerned Scientists: How to Have a Productive Phone Call With Your Legislator’s Office
- Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Citizen’s Guide to Town Meetings
- From a former Congressional Staffer: Advice on getting legislators to listen
Be the System
Your elected officials work for you. Organizations from across the political spectrum have developed guides to lobbying your representatives — and running for office yourself.
- American Majority
- Aspen Institute: Citizenship & American Identity Program
- Call the Halls
- Citizen University
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
- Immigrant Legal Resource Center
- Indivisible Guide
- Leadership Institute
- Organizing for Action
- Run for Something
- Weekly Action Checklist
Remember, these guidelines aren’t just for federal elected officials — use them to contact your state and city representatives, too.
Volunteering is another way to participate actively in the democratic process. Here are a few sites to find volunteer opportunities in your community:
Register to Vote
If you want to vote, you have to register first.
Some of the smartest people in public life today live in the center. To get past the partisan rhetoric, read what they have to say:
Sign up to get the free e-book from Common Ground Solutions, as well as updates and more information on how you can make change. (We will never share your email, and you can unsubscribe at any time.)
Use #commongroundforward to tell your friends and family how you’re getting involved.
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