We’re always hearing the phrase, “If you want to change something, get involved.” Nothing could be truer when it comes to politics. If you are content with standing on the sidelines waiting for others to effect change, then you’ll be sorely disappointed with the outcome.
It’s just a few short weeks before the next Presidential election. For many young CPAs who are reading this article, it’s quite likely this is only the second Presidential election you’ve been able to vote in since you turned 18. This is a unique opportunity to voice your opinion by casting your vote.
Sounds great, but young professionals need to know that one vote every four years is only a tiny part of the entire political process. There are countless other ways to get involved in politics and many other causes. The bottom line is trying to make a difference, and whether that occurs with your vote or in some other capacity, you are playing a vital role in your future and your communities future
Jeff Koenig, CPA, is a senior Tax associate with PKF Texas in Houston and a regular contributor to the AICPA’s Young CPA Network blog. He readily admits that the last thing someone of his generation wants is another “biased, opinionated, back-seat driving, grandstand-screaming political article.”
“The truth is that most young professionals do not have the time or energy to become fully immersed in the political process,” he says. “We rely on news outlets, online newspapers, opinions posted or tweeted by friends and colleagues, and hundreds of other sources to keep us connected with today’s issues. However, if you strip politics down, the waters begin to clear. Young professionals are more in tune and connected with politics than ever before and, through some basic foundational guidelines, we can transform this knowledge into powerful results.”
It’s Jeff’s mission to encourage young CPAs at his firm to find ways to get involved, and one way he does this is by providing some relevant examples of local activities.
For example, many young professionals who are recent homeowners are fully aware of the taxes they pay to public school districts and homeowners associations.
“The ideas and opinions expressed in homeowners associations or school board meetings will often have more impact on the lives of young professionals than, to use an often debated national topic, America’s long-term foreign policy,” says Jeff. “By no means is one issue greater than the other, but the crucial concept remains. Politics are not a far-off set of ideals. They happen, sometimes quite literally, in our own backyard.”
Not everyone lives in a major urban city such as Houston and readily apparent ways to voice your opinion may not be right in front of you. In fact, unless you have a close friend who is involved in some kind of cause or effort, you may not even know how to get started. Here are some tips on where and how you can get involved in politics or any other kind of cause.
Search Social Media. Finding local causes, political races, school boards and other outlets may be as close as your own keyboard. “Virtually every Federal, state and city politician has a Facebook page and Twitter account,” says Jeff.
Pick Your Passion. Before you decide where to get involved, you have to figure out how you want to spend your time. In addition to politics, there are charity events, nonprofit organizations and other worthy endeavors very deserving of anyone’s volunteer efforts, and if possible, monetary support. Ask your friends and colleagues for advice on how they spend their time, or tune your radar into local online and print media that cover various causes.
Don’t Overcommit. There’s nothing worse than a volunteer who commits to doing something and then doesn’t follow through. In fact, it’s better if you say “no” up front than agreeing to something you’ll have no time to complete. If you want to get involved in something and are unsure about the time you’ll spend, ask the organization or candidate for a time estimate or simply suggest how much time you can offer. Take the assignment in chunks with attainable goals.
“Undoubtedly, we have all the tools and knowledge necessary to do anything we aspire to do in our communities, cities, states and country,” says Jeff. “The key is the navigational process that cuts us away from the rhetoric and stalemates that dominate the headlines and transfers us back to the roots of democratic involvement. Along the way, you may discover that politics’ may not be such dirty word after all!”