Tips for Tackling a Political Campaign
by Mary Wilson
When you want to change your community for the better, one of the best ways to do so is to hold a public office. Public officials have the influence and power to really affect policies and government services, which can be crucial for people who are living with disabilities. Before you can wield this influence and power for yourself and your community, however, you need to run a successful political campaign. Disability Action Center NW shows you how to do so.
1 – Look to the Past & Present for Inspiration
Need a little motivation to run for office? If you are anxious about running for office as an individual with a disability, you should know that you’re in pretty good company. Even though they may not have advertised it, several presidents and world leaders were also living with disabilities. Franklin Roosevelt may be the most famous of influential political figures with disabilities, but George W. Bush, John F. Kennedy, and even George Washington struggled with dyslexia both before and while in office. If you are looking for more modern inspiration, try reading about Eleonore Laloux, who is a woman with Down Syndrome who ran for office in France. So you see, disabilities don’t have to keep you from becoming a leader in your community.
2 – Assemble an Experience Campaign Team
Much like building an autism village can help children become thriving adults, building a campaign team can help your bid for office become a success. As Harvard Law School explains, most campaign teams consist of a campaign manager, fundraising consultants and volunteers, but it may be beneficial to bring in legal consultants and other professionals for your first campaign. As an example, if you want to connect with more constituents via social media, you can hire someone to manage Instagram as well as other social media platforms. If you’re wondering where to look for experienced Instagram specialists and other freelance professionals, try using a job board like LinkedIn. They make it effortless to connect with, interview and hire the freelancers you need for a successful campaign.
3 – Work on Refining your Skills
One thing that you won’t be able to hand off to your team is public speaking. If you want to win over voters, you have to be able to work through any public speaking anxieties so you can ensure success at events. If you’re simply nervous about speaking in public, reframe that energy as excitement, and it could very well do the trick. The US Chamber of Commerce has other tricks & tools you can use to improve your skills around public speaking, including preparation, practice and a slower pace. Consider using engaging visual aids, just try not to rely too heavily on visuals, so that people will be able to connect with you.
It’s also a good idea to refine other skills to build credibility and help you advance in your career. If you have experience with information technology but haven’t received a degree, consider going back to school. Working towards an IT degree gives you a chance to earn certifications, which you can add to your resume. You can take online course and complete them in your own time. Having a well-rounded background can put you ahead of other candidates.
4 – Run a Fair & Engaging Political Campaign
Now that you have the tools and team members you need, get your campaign started! You and your manager should outline a few key strategies in order to get off to the right start. Research how many votes you need to win, create some contrast between you and your opponent, and get comfortable asking people for support along the way. Ensure your campaign is equitable and inclusive, especially if you want to connect with voters with disabilities. Start with hiring a diverse group of people, but make sure campaign materials and events are accessible. For example, any photos or videos posted to social media should include captions. Running for office may sound too complicated, but it doesn’t have to be! With the right strategy, you can forge meaningful connections to win over voters in your community. Finally, know that winning an election is possible, so don’t let fears of failure keep you from at least trying.