Political action is the effort by individuals or groups to influence politics and government by raising and spending money in support of a particular candidate, cause, or position. This effort can also include other activities such as lobbying, protests and demonstrations, and contacting mass media or a politician to voice an opinion. The term is most commonly used in the United States to refer to the efforts of organizations such as corporations, unions, and nonprofit groups.
One of the most common forms of political action is donating money to a particular candidate, group, or issue. These funds are often pooled into a political action committee (PAC) to fund a particular campaign. The PAC is then able to make independent expenditures on behalf of the candidate or issue in addition to fundraising for the campaign itself.
PACs are generally organized to represent specific business or labor interests. They may be single year committees that organize for a specific election or continuing committees that plan to continue from year to year. They may also be designated as separate segregated funds or nonconnected committees.
Separate Segregated Funds (SSF) and Nonconnected Committees are political committees that are established and administered by corporations, labor unions, membership organizations or trade associations. These PACs can only solicit contributions from members of the sponsoring organization. They can not target individuals outside the organization or solicit corporate executives and shareholders for contributions.
Another way that people participate in political action is by volunteering for a political party, attending rallies and meetings, or signing petitions. These activities are largely considered to be a form of political activism, and many people see them as a sign of civic engagement. Whether or not this is an effective method of political action is debated, but it is usually an attempt to influence politicians by highlighting the concerns and needs of citizens.
The Mikva Challenge is a national non-profit that helps high school students develop leadership skills and learn about the American democratic process. The program operates in over a dozen states, and holds conventions and summer programs to help students become more involved with their community and country. The organization promotes the values of “leadership, empowerment, accountability, and diversity/inclusion” as a means to foster young leaders and promote community activism.
The Mikva Challenge has had many notable alumni, including Leon Panetta and Mike McCurry. The program has been cited as a successful model of civics education in the United States, and is credited with helping to boost voter turnout and political engagement among teenagers. The organization is based in San Francisco, California. The organization has also created the Junior State of America, which is a nationwide student organization that has chapters in more than a dozen states. The organization offers conventions, summer programs and other events to teach teens about the democracy process. The organization is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.