Campaign Boot Camp 2.0: Basic Training for Candidates, Staffers, Volunteers, and Nonprofits

Campaign Boot Camp 2.0: Basic Training for Candidates, Staffers, Volunteers, and Nonprofits

by Christine Pelosi

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Christine Pelosi presents leadership lessons from the campaign trail from a diverse array of over forty public figures, lending advice for anyone who wants to run for office, advocate for a cause, or win a public policy issue. This book draws from her leadership “boot camps” conducted in over thirty American



Christine Pelosi presents leadership lessons from the campaign trail from a diverse array of over forty public figures, lending advice for anyone who wants to run for office, advocate for a cause, or win a public policy issue. This book draws from her leadership “boot camps” conducted in over thirty American states and in three foreign countries, working with thousands of volunteers and dozens of successful candidates for office from city council to US congress.

Campaign Boot Camp 2.0 is basic training for future leaders who hear a call to service—a voice of conscience that springs from their vision, ideas, and values—and want to translate that call into positive change. Pelosi outlines the seven essential steps to winning: identify your call to service, define your message, know your community, build your leadership teams, raise the money, connect with people, and mobilize to win. Each chapter concludes with a “Get Real” exercise so readers can personalize and integrate these ideas into individual efforts.

In this edition, Pelosi updates the book’s “Call to Service” profiles of political leaders and their calls to service; details the expanding role of social media, the Internet, and technology as message multipliers; explores challenges unique to women candidates; and expands on the power of volunteers.

Editorial Reviews

Arianna Huffington
A passionate call to public service—and a practical guide for making that service more productive. Christine Pelosi is a sharp and knowledgeable drill sergeant looking to whip our democratic process back into shape.

Product Details

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Second Edition
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

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Basic Training for Candidates, Staffers, Volunteers, and Nonprofits

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 Christine Pelosi
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-60994-516-9

Chapter One

Identify Your Call to Service: Your Message to the Future

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

The beauty of our founders' dreams is set forth in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Our democracy is a call to reimagine the founders' vision for America through the years. It requires a binding commitment between people, a commitment that begins with the earliest actions in family, school, worship, and community. It is a commitment that develops over time and experience, based on a call to service—the vision, ideas, and values that motivate each public servant.

Each of us has a personal call to service that motivates and inspires our actions in family, community, and public life. Whether your public service involves helping a nonprofit agency achieve its mission, voting or volunteering in an election, mastering the skills of running for public office, studying political science and civics, or networking with your peers in a community improvement project, everything you do to engage in democracy begins with your call to service. Your call to service springs from your vision for the future, the values that drive it, the ideas that embody it, and your commitment to work in a community with others to achieve it. Your call to service is your message to the future.

Whether your household is grounded in social responsibility, politics, workers' rights, civil rights, or military service, your call begins at home with a family ethic, manifests itself in community work, and provides a touchstone for all you do, inspiring you on the good days and strengthening you on the bad days.

Many Americans find our personal calls to service inspired by the national vision, values, and ideas framed by our founders and realized by succeeding generations. We share a common American Dream yet have the freedom to express our personal interpretations of that vision. To many, that goes without saying, but when we consider the bloodshed of recent democratic reform movements in countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Syria, we Americans can never take our individual liberty for granted.

Why answer the call to service? For many people the answer is to help others: to give back to a country that has given them opportunity or to help people achieve their stake in the American Dream. Volunteerism is the backbone of society: nothing happens in politics or community life without it. A secondary reason is that we help others in order to help ourselves: we build confidence and self-esteem through accomplishment; we connect with others, including role models or mentors; and we gain valuable experience for a job or business opportunity. Nothing is more satisfying than identifying your call to service, following your passion, and making a difference in the lives of others. As President Barack Obama often says, success is measured by "progress for the American people."

In assessing your own participation in our democracy, the first essential question is what is your personal call to service?


For many, the call to service springs from a vision of America as a better place. What change do you want? In reading the Preamble to our Constitution, what resonates? What compels you to give your time, energy, and resources, and to stake your reputation? Consider what you have done in your community—with nonprofits, educational or religious organizations, civic associations, and political or cause-related campaigns. Go back and read essays you wrote for high school, college, or job applications: How did you describe yourself? What was your favorite job or volunteer activity? What was your major in school? Your most treasured campaign? Your best writing? A closer look will tell you the message you have been sending to the future.


"Ideas have consequences," says columnist George F. Will, "large and lasting consequences." Our Constitution was a bold stroke of ideas, imagination, and intellect that brought to life our founders' vision of the future. It continues to have global consequences.

My own call to service includes promoting democracy. During the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the vision that kept coming to mind was a secure America where an engaged citizenry protects and defends our people and our Constitution. As the kids who were third graders on 9/11 are now young adults eligible to vote, I'd like to see them all registered and voting, and all serving their communities in national or civic service regardless of race, creed, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, or identity. I'd like to see the 9/11 generation of patriots come home to a society worthy of their sacrifice, with jobs, education, health care, and housing. I'd like a better balance of liberty and security for all Americans and an appreciation of our military as a force for good in the world.

Many ideas implicit in that vision require concrete answers. How do we share the sacrifice? Who is required or recruited or allowed to serve? How do we maintain force readiness and care for troops, military families, and veterans? How much of the federal budget do we spend in relation to all the other needs of the country? Do we raise taxes, and, if so, whose? Most important are the practical consequences: When and how do we propose to deploy the strong military to go to war and to protect us here at home? Should we continue with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, or other nations? Each answer has a large and lasting consequence.


Just as integral to your vision of the future and your big ideas are the core values—such as equality, responsibility, and justice —that inspire the vision. Too often we jump into political discussions without articulating our values. We may assume that others know what we believe or impute a value to our action, but assuming is always a mistake.

If, to take my example, your vision is a secure America where an engaged citizenry protects and defends our people and our Constitution, and your idea is to provide for the common defense through a strong military, your values will shape your treatment of the military servicemen and servicewomen. Equality shapes who gets called to serve and how: Would you enforce a draft or keep military service voluntary? Are all people, regardless of race, gender, class, or sexual orientation welcome to serve? Responsibility shapes how you prepare them when you deploy them in harm's way at home or overseas. Justice guides whether you keep promises to military families and properly provide for veterans upon their return home.


So far we've been dealing with the imagination; your vision becomes real when you make choices in public life that make a difference in people's lives.

On a personal level, you might achieve your vision for a safer America, your idea of a strong military, and your values of equality, responsibility, and justice by enlisting in the military or by supporting the families of people who enlist. On a community level, you might achieve the vision by supporting initiatives to provide workforce training and small-business loans to veterans returning home.

How can you tell if a candidate shares your vision? Let's say, for example, that you were evaluating candidates for president, and several promise a vision of America with the idea of a strong military and the values of equality, responsibility, and justice. So far, so good, but who will achieve the vision in the manner you intend? Until a crisis brings it home, it's just a theory.

On a political level, you might volunteer to work for a candidate who shares your vision. However, two people with a shared vision can have vastly different values about how to get there. Consider the debate over the December 2010 repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy that prohibited gay and lesbian military servicemembers from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces.

To the vast majority of Americans, the votes to repeal DADT fit comfortably within the Pledge of Allegiance: "with liberty and justice for all." (Even conservative icon Barry Goldwater advocated for opening the military to gays as early as 1993: "You don't have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.") While there must be work to achieve the vision of equality in deed as well as in law, at a time of war with a volunteer military comprised of only 3 percent of eligible servicemembers, most believed a DADT repeal could not come too soon. In addition, the Pentagon's 2010 Comprehensive Working Group report revealed that over two-thirds of service-members did not think ending this policy would have an impact on military cohesion and readiness.

However, there were others who disagreed because their values took them in another direction. A Pew poll taken in November 2010 found that liberal Democrats backed a repeal by 6 to 1. And two voter groups—the religiously unaffiliated and voters under 30—backed ending DADT in proportions almost as large. By contrast, 52 percent of self-described conservative Republicans opposed a repeal and only 28 percent supported it, while among white evangelical Protestants, 48 percent opposed it and 34 percent supported it. But note that many Republicans voted for the end of DADT and a handful of house Democrats voted against—proving that one's personal values and party affiliation are not one and the same.


To experience the challenges and rewards of public service, and to find out what kind of engagement best suits your talents, work with people who share your vision, ideas, and values. Volunteer with a student organization, a community project, a nonprofit, or an election campaign. The way you act to achieve your vision is a signal to you and to others that you are engaged to do something: to make a difference in your community and make the future better.

In her best-selling book Know Your Power, my mother, U.S. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, says if you hear a call or see a problem, "organize, don't agonize." Organize means be part of something larger than yourself, work with others on their own paths to service, and remember that it is amazing how much you can accomplish if you are willing to share the credit.

You must do something for people before you ask them to do something for you. Think of it this way: if you had a friend who showed up only when she needed something or called only to ask you for money, you would probably not stay friends for long. The same is true in public life. Don't be a taker. If someone gives you the opportunity to serve, pay it forward by helping someone else get involved or by donating money or resources to improve an organization.

Volunteer. To get started, give your time as a volunteer. "Every job I got I volunteered first," recalled Lezlee Westine, a founder and former president of TechNet, a bipartisan network of technology companies designed to promote innovation and competitiveness. "You cannot underestimate the huge value of volunteering for your first job. Volunteering is a great opportunity to show your passion for a cause and catapults you faster to a leadership role in an organization."


As you articulate your vision, ideas, and values; as you begin the service that puts them into action; and as you emerge as a trustworthy policy advocate, you will develop friendships and alliances. Westine advises aspiring leaders to "build technology networks to bring people together, coalition networks to accomplish a policy goal, and human networks to advance and mentor other people."

Technology networks. Create technology networks through the Internet to organize local groups and individuals for fundraising, communicating with the public on a grassroots level without using traditional media, and targeting favorable voters for get-out-the-vote efforts.

I saw many of these networks firsthand on the campaign trail these past few years. Many fresh recruits—from New Direction Democrats to Tea Party Republicans—were volunteers connected with partisan groups like Young Democrats and College Republicans. But just as significant were the people mobilized by progressive netroots (Internet-based grassroots organizers) such as and the Daily Kos community, by conservative networks such as the Club for Growth, and by fiercely independent communities such as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).

This new blend of asymmetrical politics thrives on bringing old-school politics and new media together. In communities around the country, I visited with people who had lost confidence in the large institutions yet felt intense pride in their own community institutions and service traditions. Not only were they voting out a culture of corruption, they were ushering in a culture of service: walking precincts for candidates and walking 10Ks for AIDS or breast cancer research; meeting to clean up politics and to clean up beaches, parks, and neighborhoods. American politics is being reinvigorated by these social networks of people willing to come together around a shared mission, stay together through challenges, and work together despite the inevitable clashes of personalities and agendas.

Coalition networks. Westine's service in the White House involved working with a series of coalition networks, which she describes as a "temporary alliance of groups to achieve a common goal." These coalition networks can include journalists, nongovernmental organizations, corporate executives, and political leaders—"groups of people with followings beyond themselves" organized around a specific policy objective.

Human networks. The most effective way to build a culture of service is to develop a network of people who share your call to service. For example, your call to service may be the economic empowerment of women. A women's business network will help achieve the vision because it will do the following: host fund-raisers for women candidates or candidates who champion issues important to women; lobby government by showcasing the impact of women-owned businesses in terms of numbers of workers and revenues; influence media coverage of the most powerful women business owners; support women for political positions; and encourage successful women to mentor younger women. "From handshaking to supporting your peers to supporting a candidate, human networks will advance your goals and have untold benefits," advises Westine.

Start building your human networks with the people whose leadership you admire. Work with a local nonprofit or political leader on a public service effort to learn the ropes, develop relationships, and take a shared risk.

Above all else, build connections and relationships—what Westine calls the glue that holds together any network.

To build networks, start with your call to service. Lead with your passion and ask yourself, "Which one of the issues or causes calls me to serve?" There are great online sources for finding volunteer opportunities and networks such as volunteermatch .com, school alumni associations, and local campaign offices.

Look into a particular group and ask: What is the reputation? Do people in it have fun? Do they make an impact? Are my friends involved? How would I fit in? Also consider the management style: the simple fact of having a Web site or Listserv doesn't tell you everything. Look deeper: consider whether the network is using the old top-down pyramid style or has adopted the modern beehive model. If there are still only a couple of decision makers who don't want volunteer feedback or who expect junior members to filter for them, you will not be as fulfilled as you will by the beehive model where every worker adds value, and leaders have learned to delegate, interact with supporters, and heed the wisdom of crowds.


Excerpted from CAMPAIGN BOOT CAMP 2.0 by CHRISTINE PELOSI Copyright © 2012 by Christine Pelosi. Excerpted by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Christine Pelosi has a lifetime of grass-roots campaigning experience, most proudly for her mother, US House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Christine serves as chair of the California Democratic Party Women’s Caucus, a vice chair of the Veterans and Military Families Council of the Democratic National Committee, and a board member of Young Democrats of America. She has worked as an attorney in the Clinton-Gore administration, a chief of staff on Capitol Hill, and a child abuse and sex crimes prosecutor in San Francisco.

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