Civic Involvement: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Nate Sullivan

Nate Sullivan holds a M.A. in History and a M.Ed. He is an adjunct history professor, middle school history teacher, and freelance writer.

In this lesson we will learn about civic involvement. We will define the term, and we will identify examples of ways that people are involved in the civic process.

Civic Involvement: Let Your Voice Be Heard!

Many of us often take for granted the political freedom we enjoy. Think about this: in the past, men and women sacrificed their lives for the sake of democracy. In our minds we tend to think about this in context of the American Revolution, and that is certainly a great example. However, there have been other cases such as the French Revolution, the Revolutions of 1848, and others. We should never forget what a privilege it is to live in a democratic state. Because of this freedom, we should seek out opportunities for civic involvement.

Civic involvement in its simplest sense, is the participation and involvement of citizens in their government. This can take many forms, as we shall explore in this lesson. Civic involvement is important: it allows your political voice to be heard. It is a way to express how you feel about issues; it is a way for you to have influence. Let's dig deeper and learn more about this invaluable privilege.

Types of Civic Involvement

There are many different ways to be involved in civics. One of the simplest and most fundamental is voting. Every four years in the United States a presidential election is held and the American people vote to decide who will become the president.

U.S. Presidents serve four year terms. If the American people like what a president has done in his or her first term, they may elect him or her to a second term; if they are dissatisfied with the president, they may choose another president. Presidents can only serve a maximum of two consecutive terms, or basically 8 years. Voting for the president is a cherished American tradition. In our current social media culture, it has become popular to post ''selfie'' pictures wearing the ''I Voted'' sticker typically given to those who participate.

Every four years the American people vote for the U.S. President. This image shows Ronald Reagan campaigning for reelection in the Election of 1984.
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In addition to the presidential election, congressional elections are held every two years. Senators serve six-year terms, and members of the U.S. House of Representatives serve two-year terms. Many people vote in presidential elections, but do not always vote in congressional elections because they believe congressional elections are not as important. Recognizing the importance of both, and voting in both, is a great way to be involved in the civic process. This can even be taken a step further: voting in state and local elections allows citizens to have a direct influence in their communities. Basically, whenever there is an election of any kind, try to vote. Let your voice and opinion be heard: get out the vote!

Voting is one of the most fundamental forms of civic involvement.
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Of course, in order to vote intelligently, citizens need to be informed and aware of political issues. Staying up-to-date on current events is important to make an informed decision. Be sure to watch the news, read the paper, and scroll through news sites online. Being educated is critical. Being aware of what is going on in your local community is also important. If you don't know that a historic house is about to be torn down to build a grocery store, your political voice will not be heard on the issue.

In addition to voting and being informed, many people seek civic involvement through volunteering. The opportunities for civic volunteering are nearly endless. You can volunteer for a particular political party. Many areas have organizations such as Young Republicans or Young Democrats for which you can join and volunteer. This could involve passing out flyers or brochures, knocking on doors to spread your parties ideas, hosting events, etc. Volunteering is also a great way to find community with like-minded people.

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