Awhile back a good friend and I were discussing people running for political office. It was when both of us was dealing with individuals running as first time candidates for offices that were far above their experience level. Those choosing to run for office these days are fueled by a U.S. President you met the minimum requirements for the office and that is just about all. Never served in an elected role at a local, state, or federal level nor in the military. It seems as though this is now inspiration for so many citizens who decide to run for political office.
This week when the United States celebrates its 242nd year of Independence from English rule. And locally where I reside there is an open seat where individuals without any elected political experience are running for a state level senate seat. Let me say, I am in the process of preparing myself to eventually run for political office. I have also served as a county and state party Democratic officer. I am a proud member of Emerge South Carolina 2018 class a part of Emerge America who has the primary goal to educate Democratic women who want to run for office.
This post is not to discourage but to encourage clear planning before seeking to run. Education, fundraising, and strategy is the best way to go when choosing to seek elected office. There was a time when intellectuals were running the nation. Now it is run by people who seem to focus of partisan politics as opposed to what is best for the nation. Below I will share the advise opinion of my good friend Robin Biro most recently a Democratic Strategist often seen on FOX News.
I want to share a couple of tips – as a former regional director on the Obama presidential campaign. I’ve recently had SO MANY random people reaching out to tell me (in all earnestness) that they want to run for President, I kid you not. I get that Trump was a political outsider and whatnot. To those new this political world try showing up to some county or state party meetings to see how things work – get your finger on the pulse…. get involved at the LOCAL level, people take for granted how much local politics influence their lives. Also, people with zero experience don’t often just decide on a whim to run for POTUS, Governor, Congress, etc – set your sights on something realistically achievable and work your way up.
In addition, please know that it’s somewhat of an anomaly to run and WIN your very first time out of the gate. However, the experience you gain along the way is invaluable and you can use it to run again and have a much better idea how to do it successfully. Basically go into running knowing that losing is a possibility, but not the end of the world by any means. Also don’t let fear of failure keep you from trying it. My favorite quote is “the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of self-doubt” – don’t be limited by your fears. Now, if you do run and lose, beware that you can “catch the bug” of running and it can be enticing chasing the dream (it is its own drug). You’ll often see candidates who just keep running again and again, without any change in results. It is advised that if you lose two successive elections you should sit out at least that same number of election cycles. This is so that you don’t get dismissed by the public as a perennial candidate with pipe dreams. Sit back, evaluate the field, learn, and come back as a FORMIDABLE candidate in a cycle or preferably two. You will stand a much better chance of getting people to buy into your candidacy and you will have a wealth of experience and knowledge.
Lastly, but MOST importantly, if you’ve sat on the sidelines and always wondered how to get involved in politics (you’d be surprised how many people are mystified by this) – it is as easy as googling your county or state political party (whatever the party). Go to their website, review their calendar, and show up to their meetings/functions. You don’t need years of experience or any qualifications to get involved – you just need to show up. As someone who has been involved in local politics for ALL of my adult life, I assure you showing up two or more times the people running the meetings will notice. We will introduce ourselves to you and put you to work as well as show you the ropes. We can put any warm body to work I assure you – I’ve put all levels of people to work drawing campaign posters in call centers – and we LOVED and embraced them with open arms. Everyone can play a valuable roll in keeping our spirits up, so trust me we can use your talents and you can make a difference – if you want to.
Robin Biro – Democratic Strategist
Political Director, Fulton County Democratic Party
Former 2008 Obama Regional Field Director
Former Candidate for SC House Seat 89
Retired U.S. Army Airborne Ranger
I will reiterate what Robin suggests if you want to make a difference stop by your local party office. Within United States the reality is there are two major political parties in which most elected officials are associated. Even those in non-partisan elected offices have party affiliation. This post is not to discourage anyone from running for office. It is to encourage education of what is needed to run and being strategic about running. To all who are reading this with a desire to run I say thank you…now go get prepared to win and not merely run. Good luck!