A Primer on Politics Before and After the Election: Part One: The Campaign Is All about the Candidate. Part Two: Thoughts of an Elected Official

A Primer on Politics Before and After the Election: Part One: The Campaign Is All about the Candidate. Part Two: Thoughts of an Elected Official

by Benjamin Allen


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781490734606
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Publication date: 05/12/2014
Pages: 126
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.30(d)

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A Primer On Politics Before And After The Election

By Benjamin Allen

Trafford Publishing

Copyright © 2014 Benjamin Allen
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4907-3460-6


Being a Leader Is Not Easy

Public officials are leaders by way of their "elected" position.

There are people who become leaders by happenstance. They are usually community organizers who are known in the community for advocating either in support of or in opposition to a community interest. Citizens in the community began to seek out the community organizer for help because citizens see the community organizer as a leader.

Sometimes a community organizer decides that he can best advocate for a community interest by being a public official.

Being a leader, whether elected or appointed, is not easy. Every decision a leader makes is second-guessed. No leader has support of 100 percent of his followers; he will not even have the support of 100 percent of his supporters. The leader will have those who want him to fail. And some naysayers will actively campaign for the failure of the leader.

There will be times a leader will question his reasons for wanting to lead. This is so because even when a leader does good, his motive for doing good will be criticized and second-guessed. There will be those who will say the leader's action is selfish even when the leader's action is pure.

Nevertheless, a leader must do good; a leader must do what is right.

The role of a leader is not to win a popularity contest; a position of leadership demands taking a stance on issues that will best serve the community interest. Sometimes the right stance to be taken is not the popular stance. Martin Luther King, Jr. once stated that "the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." And, so it is with a leader. The leader must not be afraid to challenge the prevailing view, if it is wrong. A leader must do what is right. The leader's enthusiasm, loyalty, and devotion must always be on the side of "what is right" for those whose trust the leader has been given.

If one chooses to lead by holding an elective office, he has an option. He can be a politician holding an elective office, or he can be a public servant occupying a position of trust given to him by the community. There is a difference between a politician and a public servant. The politician is like a paper bag being blown by the wind; he takes no position on any matters of interest in the community, he is pushed about by the winds of complaints. The public servant takes a position on a matter of interest in the community; he is mindful of the opinions of others, and the opinions are part of the information used to reach a decision. The public servant does not seek comfort or convenience when making a decision; he seeks to insure that any decision reached is "what is right." He seeks to insure that any decision reached is fair and just.


The Challenge to Do Something

The first question to be answered when considering a "run" for public office is, why do I want to be an elected official? This is a personal question. The question must be answered, and it must be answered truthfully.

The idea for running for public office may originate with someone other than the candidate; nevertheless, the decision to run must be the candidate's decision.

A former legislator tells the story of how he made his decision to run for public office, following a challenge given to him by his father.

The former legislator had completed his studies at the university. He had returned home to begin his work-life.

One day, the former legislator attended a community meeting. He was concerned about what was said at the community meeting. He told his father about the meeting and those matters he heard at the community meeting. In the conversation with his father, he repeated over and over the phrase "somebody ought to do something."

At the end of the visit with his father, as the former legislator was reaching for the front door, his father, who was walking to the door with him, grabbed his arm, looked him in the eyes, and asked, "Are you that somebody? Are you that somebody that we have been talking about this evening? Will you do something about the matters you care so passionately about?" The former legislator paused to consider the words of his father. Before he could respond, his father said in a calm reassuring tone, "I believe you are that somebody; be that somebody, do something."

On the night of his election, the former legislator recalled the story of the evening he shared his concerns with his father and his father's challenge to him to "be that somebody" and "do something." He told his audience that he accepted the challenge to run so that he could use the elected office to "do something" about the community concerns that was discussed at that community meeting.


Beginning the Campaign

Before starting a campaign, you must answer the question, do I have the support of my family? You must consider the wishes of your family before committing to a campaign, because the family will be affected by the campaign. The campaign will demand your undivided attention. For example, family time will be affected by the campaign. You will not be around for family events; you will be campaigning. You will miss family events because the campaign comes first. You will use family money to fund the campaign. Your family members must be told of the needs of the campaign and the family members must be willing to accept the fact that the campaign will affect the family.

Obtaining family support does not mean you can ignore the family needs doing the campaign. You must find a way to balance the demands of the campaign and the needs of the family. The failure to balance the competing interests could prove to be disastrous for you; you could lose both your family and the election.

You must get family members involved in the campaign by giving those who want to work a specific job (when possible). It is better to have family members actively involved in the campaign than being on the outside, looking in. Your family members must accept the campaign as being their campaign. And, if they do, they will be your best supporters and campaign workers.

After obtaining the support of family members, you must identify key advisors, persons who will be members of the steering committee to develop a strategy for the campaign. A member of the steering committee must have experience working in a political campaign; and if astute in political matters, this person should be the campaign's political consultant. One member of the steering committee must be the chairperson for the campaign. And, a member of the steering committee must be the campaign's treasurer.

You must meet with your steering committee weekly. (See Appendix B for Eight Things to Know about Steering Committee Meetings.) The first task of you and your advisors is to gather information on federal, state, and local election laws. You must know the requirements of the office, such as, "What is the residency requirement of the office?"; and "What are the reporting requirements of the office you are seeking to hold?" The failure to know and follow the requirements of office could end a campaign before it begins. One member of the steering committee should be given the responsibility of insuring that the campaign complies with election laws.

Before publicly announcing your candidacy, you must know why you are running for office, and you must be able to articulate your reason(s) for running. The members of the steering committee must meet and assist with preparing the announcement to insure you will not stumble when making the announcement. You must look and sound like you are ready to take office when you stand before the public, including the media, to announce you are running for office. (See Appendix A for an example of a candidate's to-do list, showing things a candidate must do to run a campaign.)


One Last Check before Beginning the Campaign

Running a campaign is hard work. It is both time consuming and expensive. Knowing this, and before announcing your candidacy and during the process to decide whether to run or not run, you must take a hard look at yourself. You must decide whether there are skeleton(s) in your closet that will affect the campaign. Your personal, financial, and professional records must not present any questionable lapses in judgment that will prove to be embarrassing during the campaign. Your general reputation in the community must be "good." A campaign can be brought to an end by what is "in the closet" of a candidate.

This does not mean you must be a saint, a perfect person, to run for public office; there may be matters of concern about your past and you still run for public office. It simply means that anything in the your past that may potentially be a problem must be made known to your key advisors and your family before the decision to run is made. Your past misstep should not be a surprise (something learned from one other than you) to those closest to you.

If there is a reasonable explanation for the matter of concern, then it will not become a distraction, dominating the campaign; if this is so, even though you have a less than perfect past you may run without fear of your past being a possible problem for the campaign.

Further, if the matter of concern is one that happened when you were of a youthful age (depending upon community norms, one under the age of twenty-five could be considered youthful), the voting public will probably forgive you attributing the misstep to youthful indiscretion. This is particularly so if you have had no other missteps and you have been a good citizen in the community since having the misstep.

Whether or not a past problem should stop you from running for public office depends upon how well you are prepared to handle questions about the misstep (this is the reason for discussing the misstep with close advisors so that the advisors can assist with preparing a response to questions about the misstep) and what you have done in the community since the misstep. You must be honest and forthright when speaking about the misstep. You must not offer any excuses for the misstep. You must be able to show that in spite of the misstep, you have moved beyond the misstep and become a positive contributing member of the community.

Of course, if you have had multiple missteps, the voting public will probably be less likely to support your candidacy.


The Campaign Is about the Candidate

Regardless of the size of a campaign, all campaigns are the same. The campaign is driven by the candidate and fueled by volunteers. A campaign depends heavily on the passion of the candidate; it is the candidate, not volunteers and not money that will determine the course of a campaign. And, the candidate's passion will weigh heavily on the outcome of the campaign.

When you qualify to be the candidate, you are responsible for the campaign.

When things go right, you will get credit that you do not deserve. When things go wrong, you will get blame that you do not deserve.

When you qualify to be the candidate, you are the face of the campaign. The campaign will be all about you. But yet, you must remember not to take yourself too serious. There will be times when laughter is appropriate even when it occurs at your expense.

Qualifying to be the candidate does not mean you have been given a monopoly on all good ideas. You will need the help of others. You must be willing to ask for, solicit, the help of others. And you must be willing to accept and use the help of others to chart the course of the campaign and to run the campaign.

You must be quick to praise others for work done for the campaign. And, you must be slow to criticize those who do not meet your expectations when completing a task for the campaign.

You must be willing to finance the campaign with your time, talents, and treasure.

You must believe in the message of the campaign.

And, you must believe in yourself. You must believe that you are as good as anyone, but you must never believe you are better than anyone.

You must have principles to live by, but you cannot be so principled that you cannot live.

In short, the campaign deals with your personality, credibility, and charisma; the outcome of the campaign is driven by your hard work; and is fueled by the passion of your supporters.


The Candidate Must Make Decisions

There are decisions to be made by you about the campaign. Some decisions are easy to make and others are difficult; even those difficult, tough decisions must be made by you. You should not ask others in the campaign to make the tough decisions that must be made nor should you expect others to make the tough decisions for your campaign.

Before making a decision, it is important that information is gathered to make the decision. You must ask questions; you must understand what is being asked, and you must understand the consequences of your decision.

You must consult with members of the steering committee, since the help of the steering committee will be needed to support any decision made.

Before making any decision, you should get enough information to make the decision a good decision, one supported by fairness and justice. You should not be afraid to make any needed adjustments after making a decision if the adjustments will make the decision a better decision.

There are important decisions that you must make affecting those you have put in leadership positions to help run the campaign. Those chosen must be allowed to do their job. You must trust those who are put in leadership positions to work for the campaign. However, if a person put in a leadership position does not have the time to complete a given task, or has shown an unwillingness to be a "team player," you must quickly make a decision to remove that person from the leadership position. Team work is needed to successfully run a campaign. Your failure to make timely decisions concerning the campaign's leadership, such as removing a person who is unfit to lead, could adversely affect the outcome of the election. The campaign requires workers, and if those in leadership positions do not work or is unwilling to work, then those who are not in leadership positions will not be inspire to work resulting in no work being done for the campaign. And if no work is done for the campaign, you will not win the campaign.


Excerpted from A Primer On Politics Before And After The Election by Benjamin Allen. Copyright © 2014 Benjamin Allen. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
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.

Table of Contents


About the Author, ix,
Foreword, xi,
Part I The Campaign Is All about the Candidate,
Chapter 1 Being a Leader Is Not Easy, 3,
Chapter 2 The Challenge to Do Something, 5,
Chapter 3 Beginning the Campaign, 7,
Chapter 4 One Last Check before Beginning the Campaign, 9,
Chapter 5 The Campaign Is about the Candidate, 11,
Chapter 6 The Candidate Must Make Decisions, 13,
Chapter 7 The Candidate's Steering Committee, 15,
Chapter 8 The Candidate Must Have a Plan, 17,
Chapter 9 I Am the Candidate—The Announcement, 21,
Chapter 10 The Candidate Must Tell a Story, 23,
Chapter 11 The Candidate Must Obtain Endorsements, 27,
Chapter 12 The Campaign Must Have a Slogan, 29,
Chapter 13 Know the Opposition, 31,
Chapter 14 Join a Political Party, 33,
Chapter 15 The Candidate Must Resist Negative Ads, 36,
Chapter 16 The Candidate Must Delegate, 38,
Chapter 17 The Candidate Must Raise Money, 40,
Chapter 18 The Candidate and the Budget, 43,
Chapter 19 A Campaign Headquarters Is Needed, 44,
Chapter 20 The Candidate Must Encourage Early Voting, 46,
Chapter 21 Yes, Hire a Political Consultant, 47,
Chapter 22 Yes, Maintain a Web Page, 49,
Chapter 23 Yes, Buy Newspaper Ads and, Radio and Television Ads, 51,
Chapter 24 The Candidate Must Finish Election Day, 53,
Chapter 25 The Candidate Ends the Campaign, 54,
Chapter 26 The Candidate as a Newly Elected Official, 56,
Part II Thoughts of an Elected Official,
Chapter 27 Day after the Election, 59,
Chapter 28 A Review of the Campaign and the People Who Help, 61,
Chapter 29 What Do the Voters Want?, 63,
Chapter 30 Consequences of Being Elected, 65,
Chapter 31 The Elected Official and the Lobbyist, 67,
Chapter 32 It's Just Politics, 69,
Chapter 33 Politics Is the Art of Compromise, 71,
Chapter 34 Money and Politics, 73,
Chapter 35 The Elected Official Must Use the Power of the Office, 75,
Chapter 36 Should a Cause Be Law?, 77,
Chapter 37 You Will Not Benefit Financially by Being in Office, 79,
Chapter 38 You Must Define Who You Are, 80,
Chapter 39 Use Time Wisely, 82,
Chapter 40 To Effect Change, Show up for Meetings, 84,
Chapter 41 Be a Statesperson, 86,
Chapter 42 Respect Your Colleagues, 88,
Chapter 43 Did I Do a Good Job?, 90,
Chapter 44 Do I Want to Do This Again?, 92,
Chapter 45 It Is Time to Quit, 94,
Chapter 46 A Term in Office Will Change You, 96,
Chapter 47 A Concluding Thought about Change, 98,
Epilogue, 101,
Appendices, 103,

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