Two iconic American political figures who won even though they lost, and the most important question any candidate should answer before they run.

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Other than John Kennedy, Barry Goldwater was the most important American political figure during the early 1960’s. His notions on civil rights never stood the test of time, but he did give life to a cause that became a movement, germinated what became a conservative majority, one that propelled Ronald Reagan to the Presidency, who in turn, drove a stake through the heart of the Soviet Empire and broke the back of communism. As much as it was Reagan’s triumph, it was Senator Goldwater as candidate who ignited the movement that made it possible.

Other than Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders has been America’s most consequential political figure the past 5 years. He will never be President, his love affair with socialism will not stand the test of time, but he has shed light on some long neglected problems—the plight of a young generation saddled with trillions in college debt, unable to afford a home or start a family; the horrific economic cost of a nation with a dysfunctional health care system that ill-serves too many. It is a testament to Sanders that some Republicans now admit that remedies to both are imperative.

There is a common question most candidates have at the outset of a campaign. Can I win? The answer to that question is a question. What wrong would you like to right, what injustice would you like to correct, what movement would you like to ignite, what cause do you wish to give life? Those who have a good answer to that question leave a legacy even if they fall short at the ballot box. And more often than not, they win.

We are now a nation starving for leadership and a new generation of leaders. It’s a great time to be one.

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.

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