Simple questions to better understand who you are, why you believe what you do, and how to find the best friend you’ll ever have in a political campaign.
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This begins a series on how to prepare for a political campaign. I’ll be discussing the art of developing your message, your story, how to convey to voters your fundamental notions of right and wrong, what you should know about your jurisdiction, how to raise money, where to find it, and the various ways to disseminate your message to the voters.
I’ll begin with something seldom discussed, but fundamental to what you are doing… Know thyself.
You were not born believing the things you do today. You were not born with a moral code, or a particular notion of right and wrong. You were not born believing what you regard today as fundamental truth.
All of you, what you think, and believe, and say, and the way you act, is a product of your journey, what you have learned, the people you have encountered, that you have seen, heard and experienced during your time on earth.
That made you who you are. And it is you who will be asking voters to place in you the power to govern on their behalf. It is impossible for voters to know you if you don’t know yourself. So, have a seat, take a mental journey through your life.
What is your earliest memory? Why do you remember it?
What kind of relationship did you have with those who raised you? Were they strict, or kind, or demanding? Were there times when the relationship was strained. How did those who raised you shape the person you are today?
Think about the teachers you had in grade school. Do you remember any that had an important influence on you? Or took a special interest in your well-being? If so, what is it that you remember and why?
It is in our junior high and high school years that we begin to develop social relationships, discover subjects that interest us, things we do well, and things we don’t. A time when we discover our passions. Are the ones you had then still yours, or have experiences since helped you discover new ones?
If you served in the military, what did you learn or how did the training you received affect your view of country, honor, duty?
If you went to college, who were the friends you had? What were the clubs you joined? Did any of your professors profoundly affect your thinking, your point of view, or what you decided to do with your life? Do you remember a book you read or a course you took that somehow changed you or exposed you to a different way of thinking?
Think about the jobs you’ve held, the people you’ve worked with, bosses and colleagues, those you became close to. Recall those you’ve met in civic and charitable organizations, your volunteer activity, things you may have seen or heard that you still remember.
What was the worst day of your life? What was the happiest day? What are your proudest accomplishments?
Why take yourself through this exercise? It is to help you understand the turning points in your own journey. Those occasions that changed the way you think. The way you behave. Your point of view. The you that you are today.
Knowing those will make you a better candidate. Sharing stories about those important times in your life will help voters better understand your motivation for running.
A political campaign is a stressful inconvenience. Asking people for money. Time away from work and family. Absorbing the brickbats inherent to political combat. You will have difficult days.
Reacquainting yourself with what brought you to present day will help you get through them. You’ll better understand your quest for power, the cause you hope to advance, the movement you hope to ignite, or the difference you hope to make.
The best friend you’ll ever have in politics is knowing the higher purpose you seek to serve.
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.
How to win an election:
Running for office and knowing how to win an election is a challenge, especially for first time political candidates just learning how to run for office. Discerning the fine points of how to campaign, raise political contributions, and execute a political campaign strategy often requires the help of someone who has served as a political strategist or who has experience as a political consultant.