Would I ever consider running for political office? Not a snowball’s chance in hell.
But—were I to, in some alternate universe, take that plunge or advise someone else who was doing so—I would offer a few tidbits of what I consider wisdom.
First of all, I look at elections as a type of gauge or barometer—and not always an accurate one. Contrary to the news pundits, I don’t see a certain candidate’s triumph as necessarily a referendum or ultimatum. Candidate X winning does not translate into a mandate. Other factors, such as low voter turnout, personalities, excessive and/or memorable advertising, etc. factor in to any political victory.
So, Candidate X, if you win please don’t go all Napoleonic on us. It might have simply been a fluke. Plus, it would serve you well to pay attention to what your opponents said and advocated. Remember, some people voted for them, too.
I’m shocked more politicians aren’t much more upfront and transparent about why they’re running and their platforms. “This is why I’m running—this is why I think I should be elected over my opponents—if elected, I promise to do THIS on my very first day on the job.” (The latter statement could even be seen as a novel way to gain votes: will the candidate actually do that thing he promised?)
Talk up you’re opponent. That’s right. Even as you tell people why you think you’re a better candidate, lavish praise on the good attributes of your competitors. “Oh, George was an outstanding senator or great businessman; but I think, given the circumstances, my experience lends itself to this particular office in a better and different way and George could continue doing his great work. I’d certainly collaborate with him in the future.” Kill ’em with kindness.
Drop the cliches. “Moving forward,” “Working together,” “Making progress,” and on and on ad nauseam. Here in Jackson, with the recent mayoral race, these dead tired slogans are heard so often they’ve been rendered meaningless. Use new phrases. “Changing The City—One Vote At A Time,” for example. Or at least be more specific about what you mean when you keep chanting the mantra “Moving forward”: we’re all dong that anyway, campaign or not.
And since crassness is all the rage these days and considered hip, be a radical and use class and civility in your campaign. I really believe politeness would go an incredibly long way in appealing to voters. Who doesn’t like a decent person? Today, unfortunately, public politeness is what is shocking to people: George Carlin’s famous “seven words” are conservative in modern society.
If you’re truly a sincere candidate and not one of those simply and cynically looking for a new job, a resume boost or a ladder to higher office, be patient. Making a noticeable and real difference, launching a would-be revolution—most any substantial progress—starts and affects change slowly, like water eroding rock or the growth of a tree.
I’m assuming a few such honorable people running for office still exist. I certainly hope they do. If any are reading this, I also hope my two cents can help them.
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