Getting Smart

  • Keep up with the print and/or online versions of your local newspaper and track as many state and national news sites as your time allows. And don’t just look for views that match your own. In a democracy, good government depends on building consensus; to turn adversaries into allies, you need to understand and respect their views.

  • Learn the system. This series of videos on is a good outline of how bills make their way through the Congress. At this site, you’ll find a link to your state legislature’s homepage; most states provide a guide to how the legislature works, as well as schedules of committee meetings and other public events. If you’re in one of the 35 states with an active Common Cause chapter, our staffers in your state can also help you find resources to learn how things work in your state government.

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