I‘m the Lead Designer and Front End Developer of One Click Politics, but I wasn’t always flexing my political muscles in the digital world.
Once upon a time, I was an activist. One of those boots on the ground, door-knocking, signature-gathering, event planning people. You know who I’m talking about.
When I started college in 2009, I immediately got involved with a few political groups on campus. I started planning and running events, conducting outreach, writing op-eds… you name it, I was doing it. In the summer of 2010, I flew to the west coast and started working for an amazing start-up called Falling Whistles.
Falling Whistles is a group of dedicated people working for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I immediately became an integral part of the Dissemination team – coordinating two national speaking tours, booking events, and creating educational and inspirational materials. During my time with “F-Dubs,” as we lovingly referred to ourselves, I started getting a sense that the internet was becoming a very important part of political organizing. More and more of my job had me focusing on building an online community.
Shortly after I left Falling Whistles to finish my degree in International Relations, I couldn’t rid myself of the internet bug. I became more involved in other campus political groups, slowly switching my focus from on the ground activism to online activism. I started working with a group called Democracy Matters, whose aim is comprehensive campaign finance reform and getting big money out of politics.
My work with Democracy Matters truly cemented in me the belief that the future of politics is online. Canvassing, petition signing, voter registration, and all around access to information was made so much easier through technology while I was organizing for campaign finance reform. Most notably, were able to utilize resources like OpenSecrets.org to see who was funding our representatives' campaigns and compare this information to their voting records - it was quite eye-opening for many of us.
The knowledge that so many people can become politically involved and informed easier than ever before through simple online tools inspired me to immediately learn web development - as a millenial activist, I knew that this is where I should be focusing my skills and my passion. Expanding political access and information to as many people as possible became my number one goal.
After graduating in 2013, I worked for one of the largest non-profits in the country doing web development and online organizing, learning the ins and outs of online advocacy tools and gaining a deeper understanding of what's out there and what the market is lacking. The biggest frustration that I experienced during that time was the lack of control I had as a developer over the digital advocacy tools we were using.
After continuing to expand my web development skills, I was brought on to the One Click Politics team. This opportunity was everything I had been hoping for - a company that is non-partisan, whose sole purpose is to give the people easy access to their representatives. At a time when only a third of American citizens are exercising their right to vote, and even fewer still have ever written to their representatives, investing my time and energy into making political engagement easier than ever is exactly what I knew I should be doing.
So, here I am - sitting at my computer working on the designs for the next version of our embeddable widgets (quite slick, if I do say so myself), instead of canvassing or mobilizing people around the issues that matter to me. But it's Congress's job to represent the American public, and to do that they need to hear from us. Our representatives hear from lobbyists all the time — they drop by their offices, have their personal cell phone numbers, etc. The tools we're building at One Click Politics are designed to give the people they're actually representing that same level of access.
To me, this work is more than worth it. Keep up the good fight. I know we will.
P.S. Stay tuned to One Click Politics — We're working on some really cool features that we're launching this year. I wish I had them back in the day!