I want to get into politics one day. What should I start doing now?

I am putting this in IMHO because I want advice and opinions as well as facts. If a mod feels it should be elsewhere, please move it.

Right now, I am a 17 male. I am a half-black and half-mexican Republican (if that should matter).

I’ve always been interested in politics and feel that I would enjoy serving my country in that manner. I am not ready yet. I figure, when I’m older and more experienced, I will run for something, but I don’t want to start from scratch. I want to know what I should do now, to help prepare myself for the future.

As of now, my plans are to serve my time in the Air Force, and then go into teaching. Would that be a viable option?

Any and all advice will be welcome.

Stay so far the heck away from trouble that you can’t even see it from where you are. That’s not easy to accomplish, but the fact that you try will count in your favor in the long run compared to whatever scrapes you do get into.

Study law.

Develop ties to whatever community you’re in.

Be honest.

Well first, you’re in the wrong party.
Nah, nah, nah - just kidding.

My suggestion would be to volunteer at your local Republican headquarters. Although you’re not old enough to vote, I would think they could use your help. Especially in this upcoming very important presidential election.
You could help canvas for your local running congressman.

Its not what you should start doing, its what you shouldn’t start doing!

Don’t drink, smoke, do any drugs, womanize (don’t even date!), speed or get any tickets, commit to anything, admit anything, express an opinion on anything or nothing that can be pinned on you down the road.

Good lord! Why would anyone want to get into politics? :confused:

The Air Force thing is a good start. Then go to law school. Get nothing but "A"s. Good luck! I’ll be drinking your share of the beer.

Well, I’ve never smoke or have done any drugs, and I don’t plan to.

But if I want to get into politics, I need to go into law? I couldn’t make it as a history professor?

Be prepared to be held up as an example (the less kind might say “token”) by the party because of your minority status.

Most politicians on the national level are lawyers, but local town boards, etc. have members from all different occupations. Being a lawyer is an edge, but is not required.

You can get involved now. If you’re in high school or college, get involved in student government. Attend school board or city council meetings to get familiar with the issues. Volunteer for a political campaign or the local party headquarters (they always need help). You need not get elected to get involved in politics, as there are usually various committees in town where the people involved are appointed. These can be a good stepping stone.

Don’t inhale whatever else you do!!!

Vote, vote and vote. You don’t want to be the one explaining some lame reason why you didn’t vote in any elections til you were shamed into it by a reporter digging into your record.

Get yourself a copy of this:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0671721577/qid=1090972897/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-7748976-7028652?v=glance&s=books

follow directions. :slight_smile:

Read the biographies and writings of powerful poeple. Absorb whatever it is they have. Become consumed with success.

I’d say read biographies, political magazines, and websites of those you disagree with. You’re going to have be able to talk to people that disagree with you, so you may as well know what the other viewpoints are.

To clarify: Start making a list. On this list, put everything people in the media count as a negative about politicians. The fewer of those things you do, the less the media will have to chew on. Granted, since you’re currently committed to being a republican, there are going to be some things you’re going to do anyway, but if you can keep the list of things you do that people hate fairly short, your chances of being ripped to shreds get lessened.

Look into summer internships at local, state and federal level. My niece, a high school junior, interned in DC with her congressman. Write his/her office, don’t worry if s/he is a democrat. It is an excellent starting place.

Here in Canada most parties have youth branches you can join in University. We’ve even had a few students run for actual positions. I figure that would be a great way to get involved (assuming there is a similar arrangement in the U.S.)

I’ve been involved in political campaigns, have worked for both executive and legislative branches of state and federal government, and have been involved in public policy development all of my professional life. Here’s a few observations:

  1. Tip O’Neil was right - all politics is local. To that end, you need to get to know your first level political representative (city councilman, supervisor, whatever the term is for your local legislator). Take any issue that interests you, learn whatever it is you can about it, and then voice your opinion to your legislator. You’ll find that your probably know much more about it than he or she does. Educate them. Help them make an informed decision. They’ll remember you when a letter of recommendation is needed or when you need a phone call made to the next level representative.
  2. Volunteer. Volunteer for campaigns, volunteer at the local VA hospital, volunteer at your school. Get into your community and “do.” This will bring you into contact with the most diverse, and active, members of your community.
  3. Know the opposition. You’re Republican? Get to know Democrats. Read Op/Ed pieces written by people you don’t agree with. You’ve got to understand the other guy’s point of view in order to present yours as the alternative choice.
  4. Know that “what goes around comes around.” You may be in the majority on an issue today, but don’t be too smug. You’ll probably be in the minority tomorrow.
  5. Think long and hard on exactly what it is you want to accomplish. Why do you want to go into politics? It can be a very ugly business.
  6. Prepare to be thought of as a devious, backstabbing, lying, sleazy son of a bitch (even if you aren’t). It comes with the territory.
  7. Think before you speak. Think before you speak. Think before you speak. ANYTHING you say can come back to haunt you at a later date.
  8. Don’t try to hide any skeletons in the closet. As a politician your entire life and everything you’ve ever written, said, read, watched, or done is considered fair game for comment and is political fodder. Ditto for your family and friends.
  9. One reason why so many lawyers are politicians is that they make enough money to be able to go the legislature (at the state level) for several months a year and legislate. You want to be a teacher - are you going to be able to leave your job, travel to the capital, and serve as a legislator? Politicians don’t make a helluva lot of money for the hours they put in. Well, at least not the honest ones.
  10. Know that you will never make all the people happy, and that more often than not you’ll make more people mad. Develop a thick skin and prepare yourself for being either hated with unknown fury or pretty much ignored. No one has a warm and fuzzy feeling for their legislator.

Is there any chance you could be adopted by the Bush family?

Okay seriously, don’t pigeonhole yourself into one party at so young an age. Get out there and learn as much as you can. Try to see multiple vantage points. Don’t listen to the angry gas bags on radio and TV.

Above all else, NEVER forget that this is supposed to be about public service not personal aggrandizement.

The book I linked to in the earlier post is not a wackjob tome. It is a practical guide.

One thing it emphasises is this: start locally.

Volunteer at your City Hall. See if City Councilmen or State Legislature Representatives need aides.

Attend public meetings. Get your name circulating.

The book is on my wish list. I don’t have any money at this moment, but once I do, I’m going to buy it.

I guess I should start reading the Bill Clinton book. I just got it because it’s signed, but it turns out it’ll be usefull.

Thank you all for the advice. I have a lot of work ahead of me.