Check reliable websites for information on your country’s system.
If you want to know who your elected representative is, what powers your president or prime minister has, or who’s allowed to vote, you might want to start by browsing your government’s websites. For information on a specific topic, like “how does a bill become law,” use a search engine and focus on sites operated by governmental, educational, charitable, or civic-minded groups.
- You can, for instance, get a very quick rundown on the Australian system of government on the Oxfam Australia website.
Read textbooks, key political texts, and books on political history.
Visit your local library, head to a local bookseller or college bookstore, or shop online for introductory texts on your country’s government. You might think it’s odd to buy a textbook on American government, for instance, it you’re not taking a class in it, but this can be a great way to cover the basics quickly.
- Read key texts from your nation’s political history—in the U.S., for instance, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and so on. Book-length collections with annotations and introductory/explanatory essays may prove especially helpful.
Take a class on civics, government, or introductory politics.
If a civics class is required or optional in your high school, take the class—and pay attention! You can always find courses on politics college, but even if you’re not in school, you may be able to at least sit in on an introductory course on politics at a nearby community college.
- You can also find open, free online courses on politics with some quick internet searching.
Contact individuals in your government.
Many people think of writing a letter or sending an email to their elected officials only when they have a complaint or specifically support a piece of legislation. But, it’s also perfectly acceptable to ask questions about their role in governance and how the larger system works. You might be sent some helpful reading materials, or even invited for a quick meeting or tour!
- If you’re looking to contact a member of the Scottish Parliament, for instance, you can use wikiHow to find info on how to get in touch and the best way to format your communication.
- Write government officials respectfully, but also get to your point quickly and clearly. This will make it much more likely that you’ll receive a useful reply.