Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How To Run For Political Office

We've had a few "How To" posts this month, "How To Take Over A Political Precinct," "How To Organize Boycotts, Protests, And Demonstrations," Charisma," and "How To Give A Charismatic Speech," and we end the month by presenting another political activist lesson, "How To Run For - And Win - Political Office."

A common way to enter the political arena is to start at the bottom by becoming a prosecutor, or winning seats on the local school board or planning committee, running for a local city office, followed by a state seat, and then off and running in the larger world of national politics.  Some are able to jump right into national office by running first for a Congressional or Senate seat, although this is rare.  But all campaigns carry some common features, even though laws regarding elections vary from state to state.

In any event, some knowledge of politics in general is helpful, as we see in the article at wikiHow.com, "How To Understand Politics," edited by Desuiseiseki, Teresa, Garshepp, RMunsonNJ, and "17 others.":

"Politics is a broad, complicated subject. It involves issues like diplomacy, war, government finance, and such. It also is a significant part of your life, since it's what dictates how you're allowed to live, so it's a good idea to understand it.


"1.  Learn about all the types of government and how they work. It's important to learn about the governments of other countries, as well as your own, in order to understand how and why your country interacts with others. Learn the pros and cons of all the governments as well.

"2.  Learn specifically about how your country is run. This goes from national government all the way down to city government. Voting and lawmaking is also included in this.

"3.  Find out what rights you are guaranteed and where their limits are. In America, for example, people are guaranteed free speech. However, free speech ends where another person's rights begin. Threatening to kill someone, for example, is not covered under the freedom of speech. Learn what your rights are and how you can exercise them.

"4.  Watch and read political news to find out about current events. There will no doubt be issues in the paper and media that are of political nature. This could include elections, social issues, the economy, other countries, or government-related problems.

"5.  Research current events in depth. Look at how the event came to be, what the effects of the event are, and what people's opinions on the event are. Research all sides, not just one, and discuss it with your peers in order to gain better insight on it.

"6.  Look up words you don't understand. Expanding your vocabulary is a good way to understand what politicians are talking about.

"7.  Ask someone that you trust about issues you don't understand. If there's something you just can't find out by research, ask someone what the issue is about and what the background is.

"8.  Learn about all the different economies as well as the pros/cons of each. The economy is a hot issue in many countries, and effects your life. Politicians all have their own ideas and solutions about the economy and the struggles their countries face with it.

"9.  Look into politicians' backgrounds and political records. There are usually websites that have a record of politicians and what they vote for. Google their names and see what kind of opinions they have and how they're voting. This is especially useful for when you begin voting for representative

"10. Write to your representatives or officials but be very sure to give your city, county, state and mailing zone/code or they will almost always treat your email or letter as spam or junk mail. This is because the government officials often get letters from people whom they do neither represent nor have authority over their issues. Junk mail (propaganda or advertising) is a waste of time and effort for them as with anyone...

"11. Try to acquire a better understanding about how power works (not just political, but also economic). Understand that democracy isn't perfect so there is much more to take into account you you really want to take politics seriously, i.e., if you really want to contribute to change the world. Read Marx, Rousseau, and so on.

There are exceptions to the rules above as we have seen with the meteoric rise of individuals like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann, but their careers tend to be shorter than the informed candidates - and if they could do it, as an even more knowledgeable person, so can you!

The basics of running for office are outlined first in a short post, "How To Run For Political Office," at wikiHow.com, Edited by Linda Rogers, Ben Rubenstein, Jen, Flickety and "23 others":

"So you want to run for office--'get into the world of politics?' Many qualified candidates fail to reach their goals because they make the same mistakes. Major problems can be solved by drawing up a plan to follow during the campaign, in effect, a 'road map to victory.' A campaign plan allows you to know where the pitfalls and strengths lie. It can even give a healthy estimate on funds needed to achieve victory and where to find it. These are some tips and guides to help candidates run a more effective campaign. Check into how to get started in local politics there are several options and steps.


(We'll interject here to note that candidacies often start with a coffee klatche, an informal meeting at a friend's house with people invited over that might be interested in your candidacy - Joyce, Jnr.)

"1.  Make sure you really want to run for political office and that your family is willing. If you have younger kids, make sure they understand that mom or dad may be a little more busy in the near future.

"2.  Figure out your budget. Talk to officials within your political party to see to what extent (if at all) the local or national party will provide financial assistance. Determine what you'll be able to contribute out of your own pocket.

"3.  Find a capable core of individuals to build your campaign around. This will likely consist of people like a chief of staff, a fundraising director, a public relations director, and the such.
The exact scope and makeup of your staff will depend on many factors, including your hiring budget and the level of office you're running for.

"4.  Research issues in the district you're running in and brainstorm with your core.

"5.  Research your opponent(s).

"6.  Develop your message, your logo and a simple memorable campaign slogan.

"7.  Get access to your party's database. In addition, any other consumer demographics you can find or buy. Database, database, database. Everything always goes back to the database.

"8.  Develop a fund-raising plan about mailings, speaking, etc.

"9.  Send out requests, telephone and meet with major party contributors for initial contributions to fuel the beginning campaign.

"10. Generate an initial campaign literature print piece with your background and picture.

"11. Order stacks of donor envelopes with a volunteer form printed right on them.

"12. Have your Web site set up and ready with ability to collect money and gather voter data before you formally announce.

"13. Make your announcement at an event with the maximum press coverage possible.

"14. Get petitions signed and delivered on time.

"15. Develop additional graphics, posters, print materials, etc.

"16. Investigate multi-media video, TV, Web, etc.

"17. Coordinate letter writing campaigns to the editors.

"18. Prepare for debates and interviews (practice seriously).

"19. Organize and motivate volunteers: Phone banking addressing envelopes, house parties, door-to-door etc. Most campaigns are won on the ground.

These are the "basics," and we will move on to "How to Win Your Campaign For Political Office," next.


"Persuade thyself that imperfection and inconvenience are the lot of natural mortals,
and there will be no room for discontent, neither for despair."
Tokugawa Ieyasu ("Toranaga" in the novel and film, Shogun.)