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How to Run for Public Office

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“It does not take a majority to prevail … but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” Samuel Adams

Have you given some thought to running for public office? What issues do you seek to address? Are you interested in being a public servant or do you seek politics as a career? What will you be up against?

“Steady, hearty allegiance to the policy of the government they (bureaucrats) serve will constitute good behavior. That policy will have no taint of officialism about it. It will not be the creation of permanent officials, but of statesmen whose responsibility to public opinion will be direct and inevitable. Bureaucracy can exist only where the whole service of the state is removed from the common political life of the people, its chiefs as well as its rank and file. Its motives, its objects, its policy, its standards, must be bureaucratic. It would be difficult to point out any examples of impudent exclusiveness and arbitrariness on the part of officials doing service under a chief of department who really served the people, as all our chiefs of departments must be made to do. It would be easy, on the other hand, to adduce other instances like that of the influence of Stein in Prussia, where the leadership of one statesman imbued with true public spirit transformed arrogant and perfunctory bureaux into public-spirited instruments of just government.”
Woodrow Wilson, “The Study of Administration”, Political Science Quarterly. pp. 197–222, November 1, 1886

So now that you know what you are going up against is an entrenched bureaucracy that has been in place for a long time, what is an individual to do?

If you’re motivated to make (real) changes, and to work with others who feel the way you do, then that is a start. If you haven’t already, free your mind, heart and spirit. Everything you do flows from these factors. Educate yourself on the issues. Have a principled approach to liberty and justice. Government already attracts enough unprincipled power hungry people as it is. Finally realize, that overall, government is almost never the answer to our problems. But try telling that to 99% of the people and they will think you are crazy.

If you are giving a serious consideration to running for public office, organization is the first step. You don’t need experience in organizing to take action now. You have to start somewhere. You already know that the majority will not automatically “get it” when it comes to liberty especially not in a society that is accessorized, customized and deodorized one like the United States.

Depending on what level of office you are running for, you will want to take into consideration several factors. One factor is how well known are you and how much money do you have or can you raise? I don’t mean that you need to be a celebrity. I do mean that no one is going to support or vote for someone they don’t know anything about. Are you one who has been involved in the community such as helping the poor, do you own a business or do you attend school board meetings? You will have to get comfortable in dealing with the public and to realize people will have questions to ask (hopefully it won’t be of the private kind). An attractive resume to put on your campaign literature will be helpful.

Get familiar with the inner workings of the city council, county commission or whatever level you are considering running for. Attend meetings and become familiar with who is already there. Alliances are critical in running for public office as well as being in public office.

After you find one or two potential public offices to run for, you will want to spend some time at the local election commission. Be familiar with the procedures for petitions, campaign finance, election laws, etc… Of course, if you are running as an independent, expect to encounter more roadblocks than if you were running as a democrat or republican. The system is set up to benefit those who already run the system.

After you get enough signatures for your petition (rule of thumb is to aim for around 4x the number of required signatures), start holding events.  Events can be a neighborhood planning meeting, a media interview, or a potluck, to name a few examples.  You might as well start with people you know so that you can become comfortable with speaking in public, being asked questions and putting yourself out there.

You will likely need to name a treasurer. A friend is okay if they are ethical and know how to manage campaign funds. You may want to ask other people who are in public office (not the one you are thinking about running for) on suggestions on what to look for in a treasurer. Be familiar with campaign finance laws relevant to the office you are seeking.

A candidate can’t do everything. Not even the millionaires/billionaires (of whom the majority in the U.S. Congress happen to be) can do everything. Unless you are loaded with money or are famous, you probably won’t be able to hire a professional campaign staff like those big wigs do.

What you would want is a campaign manager ideally one who has experience, is passionate about this role and is a superb organizer. The CM should know about the area of the office you are seeking, how to organize precincts, wards, neighborhoods and can coordinate volunteers to work these areas on a given day. This person would know how to set up media interviews, work with a printing or graphic design company to produce literature, signs, website, etc… I would suggest setting aside a fund that can be used to pay volunteers a token amount for travel, donuts, something to show your appreciation for their time and effort.

After you have laid the groundwork, you will want to get out there and knock on doors yourself. You should set aside just about every Saturday for neighborhood canvassing. You should also train your volunteers on decorum, language, how to address people when they answer the door, etc…

Eventually things should fall into place as momentum builds and more people know your name. Even after you put everything into it, will you win? You have no control over who counts the votes and I am not aware of any fraud proof system that could keep the voting honest. Ultimately, people will make their decisions. The main thing is to realize the campaign isn’t about you, but the ideas you are representing and ideas are bulletproof.

Written by chrisforliberty

November 6, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Posted in Politics

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