Of the many things a future candidate can do to prepare for a future campaign, little beats getting involved in the political campaign of someone you like whose cause you share.
There are things about modern political campaigns that are not taught in textbooks, or covered in a political science course, or contained in a book. I want to talk about what you get out of volunteering for a political campaign, and some of the things you can do when you volunteer. The larger the campaign, the more there is to do. That is especially true in a presidential campaign.
I’ll illustrate what you get out of it with a story. I once volunteered in a Gubernatorial campaign, expecting to be assigned a few mundane tasks in the headquarters, and at first I was. But as I watched and observed I noticed there were some unmet needs, certain things that needed improvement, one of which was the candidate at times had trouble with his speeches and the way he articulated his message.
So one evening on my own time I wrote a stump speech for him, and left it on his desk. He found it the next morning, read it, picked it up and went walking through the headquarters waving the speech above his head, asking members of his staff who had written it. I finally and somewhat sheepishly admitted that I was the one who had done it.
He looked at me and said, “Thank you. I’ve been waiting for someone to notice I needed help with this. From now on, I want you by my side so that you can write for me.” He put me on the payroll. I became his chief speechwriter, traveled with him wherever he went, and from that day forward I also attended every important meeting he had. Because of that I also met some very talented political movers and shakers who became lifelong friends, and helped me advance my own career.
Why should you volunteer?
All campaigns have unmet needs. They all need more help than they have. Tasks that can be better done. Voids you can fill once you spot them. Once you do, you become a very important cog in the wheel.
You’ll meet and make new friends, and if you work hard at keeping them, they become lifelong friends who can someday help you.
It is also a marvelous place to learn, up close, in the trenches, and a terrific way to sharpen your own leadership skills as you operate under the pressure of campaign deadlines.
What are some of the things you can do?
Yard signs, lit drops, phone calls, voter canvassing, field operations, handouts at street fairs and shopping malls. Social media posts, organizing fundraisers, meet and greets, recruiting volunteers, assisting the paid staff with press operations, scheduling radio and television interviews, doing advance work for the candidate, speech writing, getting involved in the advertising effort, crafting Facebook ads, videos, persuasion mail, or any other task where there is an unmet need.
Election day is right around the corner. Go find someone you like, and go volunteer. It is a rich experience, and what you learn by doing it is some of the best political training you’ll ever get.
For serious candidates, future candidates, and those who want to help good people win an election, here is a video for you: 5 Strategic Steps to Victory in a political campaign. THE 5 steps all candidates must take on their route to power.
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Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.
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