Personally, I don't think religion should get involved in politics, but people definitely should. While the Buddha clearly discouraged the monastic community from engaging in 'worldly' activities such as politics, I think it's a mistake for lay-followers not to be. For one, politics affects almost every aspect of our lives, and being engaged in our communities and being a part of the political discussion, not to mention being active in broader political movements, is what makes our political systems function more effectively, and how progress, however slow it may sometimes be, is made.
To leave these these kinds of activities and decisions solely in the hands of others, some of whom are slaves to their defilements, isn't wise, in my opinion. And if we choose to live in the world, then I think we at least share some responsibility for shaping it; and it makes sense to have people motivated by things like non-greed, non-aversion, and non-delusion add their voices to the mix, not to mention helping do what they can to fix things like inequality and injustice as long as it's done with a spirit of compassion and harmlessness. The greatest danger of the practice, in my opinion, is the tendency of practitioners to ignore the world around them while seeking their own happiness.
Moreover, just from a practical standpoint, not addressing many of the material conditions giving rise to and supporting society's suffering ultimately serves to help maintain their continued existence (when this is, that is), which can negatively affect our practice, as well as that of others. If the society one lives in isn't conducive to practicing Buddhism, for example, then it does matter what kind of society one lives, so we should naturally try to make it as conducive for ourselves and others as possible. As the Buddha said in , "To reside in a suitable locality, to have done meritorious actions in the past and to set oneself in the right course — this is the greatest blessing."
It'd be great if everyone were free from greed, hatred, and delusion, and everyone treated everyone else with kindness, compassion, and generosity—if the world was free from all forms of exploitation, privation, and gross inequalities. But the world isn't a perfect place, and we're not all saints; and one of the ways we can help alleviate some of the world's suffering is by trying to materially change it for the better. And from this point of view, it's not about making Buddhism political, but about applying the ideals of Buddhism in all that we do, which for me includes being political active.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" ().
(non-Buddhist related blog)