The first thing any young person itching to get political has to realize is this: The masses are not poised to lose their chains thanks to you. You're not going to change the world overnight. However, you can and should get political because you can make a difference.
The way to do it is to get out of the theoretical world of college radicalism—spare yourself and your friends the Marxist phase—and get into the tangible world of local candidates and political organizations.
College readings got your feminism percolating for the first time? Translate it into action: There is always a young woman, with a smart feminist bent, running for office around here. Right now, it's Darcy Burner (www.darcyburner.com). She's running for U.S. Congress to unseat male chauvinist pig GOP incumbent, Representative Dave Reichert. At the Seattle City Council level—a great way to get up to speed on local issues like fighting for an affordable city with some damn transit options—check out Venus Velazquez (www.venus4seattle.com), who's running for an open seat against an ex-UW-football jock.
The presidential election is right around the corner and the local Democratic organization (www.wa-democrats.org) is fueled by college-age volunteers. It will be a busy, buzzing office this year as the Democrats fight to take back the White House. Call 583-0664 and hand your ass over. You can also have a say in who that nominee is. Barack Obama? Hillary Clinton? John Edwards? Find out what your precinct is—you University District kids are in the 43rd District; go to its website (www.43rddems.org) and contact it to find your precinct—and get involved at the caucus level come February.
If you're still smitten with Foucault and Fanon and this Democrat shit is too mainstream for you, there are local groups that are pushing, albeit practically, for radical change at the local level. If you want to make the city affordable for working people, check out the Seattle Displacement Coalition (www.zipcon.net/~jvf4119/). If you want to fight global warming at home, check out Seattle's radicalized local chapter of the Sierra Club (www.cascade.sierraclub.org/directory/groups/seattle).
Finally, there are some good blogs that will plug you into local issues: Northwest Progressive Institute (www.nwprogressive.org) and HorsesAss (www.horsesass.org) are great places to start. And, some final words of advice: Know your enemy. Stay tuned to what the local right wing is saying at Sound Politics (www.soundpolitics.org).