December 28, 2018


Resolving to Care about Policy in 2019

By: Josh Evans

For better or worse, the American public is becoming increasingly focused on politics and policy. The 2018 midterm elections saw nearly half of all eligible voters show up to cast their vote — the highest turnout for a midterm election since 1914.

It’s important that this growing political engagement is supported by an understanding of the issues. However, if you haven’t paid much attention to politics in the past, it can be intimidating to find a place to start. So here are a few New Year’s resolutions to help boost your political awareness in 2019:

Vary Your News Sources
Accusations of bias are often levied against the media from both the left and right. While some outlets make more effort than others to remain objective, biases will inevitably creep in from time to time, which is why it’s critical to get your news from a variety of sources. It’s all too easy to end up trapped in an ideological echo chamber unless you make a conscious effort to seek out alternative views, so this year, make an effort to read more news from across the aisle.

This approach is just as important in your consumption of opinion writing. While reading analysis and commentary from those with whom you agree can help strengthen your arguments, it’s equally important to read opposing views, both to understand the other side and to identify areas in which you might need to reconsider your own views. For specific recommendations on good free market oriented commentary, be sure to check our weekly round-ups of work from Writing Fellows Program alumni, posted to the AF blog every Wednesday.

Focus on What Matters Most to You
The growing size of the US government means the sheer number of things impacted by policy decisions can be overwhelming. Some issues touch everyone, like healthcare or environmental policy, while others, like the national cheese stockpile, are more niche. You could spend all your free time studying up and still come away with only a shallow understanding of just a fraction of the issues. Instead, figure out what subjects matter most to you, and seek out the experts on that topic.

Maybe you know someone who’s been impacted by the problems in our criminal justice system. Maybe you’re fascinated by the benefits of emerging technology and how government policy can help or hinder innovation. Or maybe you’re interested in free-market solutions to environmental problems, and how we can preserve the planet for future generations without coercive policies. Whatever it is, find what policy area you’re most passionate about, and focus your energy and activism there.

Join an AF Chapter
All over the country, AFF’s chapters give young liberty-minded professionals the opportunity to build connections, grow professionally, and learn more about policy. In 2018, our chapters have hosted discussions on criminal justice reform, school choice, marijuana legalization, and more, with plenty more in the works for 2019. It’s the perfect opportunity to grow your policy knowledge while getting know other like-minded people in your city.

2018 was a turbulent year in politics, and with presidential primaries beginning to wind up, 2019 will be even more so. However, opportunities to advance freedom abound, and being well-informed about the issues is an important first step in taking advantage of those opportunities.