If you are really trying to make a difference in the world, your call could be to become a politician. You could be instigating improvement in the workplace! What awesome feeling will that be? The path is not going to be easy — and it certainly isn’t going to be short — but it would be so worth it. Are you ready for an impact?
Getting the Ball Rolling
1. Go to University. While anyone can actually be a politician (depending, of course, on your definition of a politician), those who make a true dent in society and can call it a career have been to college. They possibly studied economics, finance, political science, or foreign relations. Even if any degree is better than none!
- Most go on to the school of law or business. It is not a tough-and-fast standard, but it is definitely not a bad idea. It’s smart if you want to be a big boy, that is for sure. Currently, 68 are either lawyers or businessmen in the US Congress. Only for the record.
- Back in the day, it was a fairly common military experience. This is definitely not a bad idea — we are all pro-people supporting their country. Yet it’s becoming less normal and there’s no shame in holding your office job if you don’t feel the need to match the Presidential mold.
2. Willingness to volunteer. For volunteer experience on the curriculum vitae, it is impossible for anyone to look at you and say, “That’s not a trustworthy, decent guy.” It would take a person that doesn’t like puppies. You need to prove that you help good causes to get votes, you’ve put in the time and you care for your culture. The fastest way to get this done? To volunteer.
- You could start by volunteering for a local campaign, but cultivating your interests outside of the political sphere is also a good idea. Join a non-profit group, help the poor, work with an agency that you would support if you were in a position of influence. Show the world how well-rounded you are (and are moral).
3. Affiliate yourself with party politics. Running on the Jane / John side won’t get you a lot of attention (well, at least some positive coverage). You need to affiliate yourself with a well-established political party if you are serious about this political thing. This way you ‘re going to get help, you ‘re going to find like-minded friends and colleagues, and in some situations, people are going to look at your name and think you are good to go.
- And not. Anyway. For that, is the Independent Party. Do remember, however, that running with this party and being elected to office is like running up a hill blind with a Skip-Bo on your leg, carrying on your back a screaming monkey.
4. Charge the share on a campaign from someone else. If you’re blessed enough to know what you want to do at a young age, then working on someone else’s campaign is a good way to make headway into this field. It may be grunt work but you’re going to get a sneak peek into what it’s like and get a leg up on the whole thing about networking. Which, by the way, is super important.
- You could knock on doors, stuff pamphlets in boxes, or put stamps on envelopes, but you’ll do something. When you’re at the top it will give you an appreciation for these roles — and people would also enjoy a relatability.
5. Get actively involved in your community. If Joe doesn’t know you, it’s going to be hard for people to trust you with, well, anything. And become involved locally! Be that one which everybody knows. The one who participates in everything. You have got to develop a reputation!
- A good starting point? Meetings in the Community. Get on the boards of the local schools, city assemblies, and the like and make some noise. Stay active. The only way you’ll work your way up is to start from the bottom. So go to the party headquarters in your town, ask a few questions, and seize a seat.
6. Have a career that is flexible. So while most big cheese politicians are businessmen or lawyers, they ‘re a different story to the local and state ones. Representatives of your town could be grocery store owners, teachers, factory overseers, something. Since politics won’t start paying you for potentially another decade or two, get a job and get a flexible one — unless you’ve been lying around for ten years.
- Here the versatile aspect is critical as there will be occasions when politics will take over. You have to take off one afternoon for a conference, take a week off for a convention or take off for your campaign for six months.
Entering the Arena
1. Get something to be passionate about. Very few people simply become a politician on the idea that it sounds fun. While they might want to “change the world,” they have a general understanding of what needs have changed. So find something you want to get behind before you throw your name in the ring. Find something to get you motivated. Take on passion.
- Do the road conditions in your town irritate you to no end? Would you like to save the local hospitals from moving to another area? Do you think your neighborhood had a more dedicated green space? Fantastic! Since the two-party rule, you needn’t have the next best thing. All you need for your platform is a guiding power and your motivation for campaigning.
2. Local Start. Although you could go from the president of the student body to running for the president of the United States … you would really just be asking for a difficult time. If you want to be successful and go about it, you’ll start small. You have a couple of options in the US:
- List of Directors
- Town Council
- Town mayor
- County Administrator
3. Check your balance with your banks. All right, you’ve decided to run for office. He could be mayor, maybe county supervisor, yeah, maybe even state legislator. The larger this is, the more capital you will need. Have you got padding in there in case things go wrong? What if you have to pay some of the bills and your campaign comes up short? What if you lose the election, and when you get back, your job isn’t there? Would the table depend on it?
- Campaigns are costly. The way that is more expensive than you know before reaching the first. There are travel costs, paying for your staff, publicity costs and time schmoozing, just to get the list started.
4. Create an advertising strategy. Now for the fun! You know, that kind of thing. At least the things packed with adrenaline. You ‘re going to have to bring together a team of people you trust to run it for you, but you need to build it. How do you wish to get the message out there? How big does the squad really have to be? What issues are you going to push for? How are you going to take on your opponents?
- 3 Words: Begin. Boost. Support. Now start raising funds. Hit up everyone you know for donations (because you knew this was coming, right?). Even if you met them once and they are not still your friend on Facebook, hit them up. No shame about that!
5. It depends on your (wealthy) friends. This is one of those times when members of one of those posh country clubs are really going to come in handy. Just keep going, you’ll need the cash flow, and Aunt Marge’s $10 semi-annual contributions won’t cut it. Of these, you will need thousands. So if you’ve been sipping with the Gateses on or eating Pinot Grigio, know where your bread is buttered. The wretched reality, actually.
- For this reason, it is especially beneficial to have been a name for a while. You might be noticed by the right people, and they decided you ‘re showing political promise. That’s why getting involved with one of the major parties is a good idea — it’s a solid platform for catching attention.
6. Get that state-wide. Once you have dominated your local pond, you ‘re likely to be looking for some bigger fish to fry. And go all over the Country! Be a lawmaker — get interested in the Senate or Congress. You’ve shown you’ve got the chops, so you could make some money with it as well!
- This is much the same, only on a greater level. And more scrutiny comes with a greater level. And more cash. Most commonly, most of it all. Definitely longer.
- So make sure you chat about this with your family and others you ‘re close to because of the “more time” thing. Your life won’t be the same and you won’t be as attainable. You may be quite a bit on the road and because of that, you may be very stressed.
7. Soldier. If you succeed and end up being elected, first of all, congratulations! It will be stressful and it will make your hair turn gray prematurely but you’re going to make a difference!
- And don’t be deterred if you’re not successful. If you’re really passionate about this, your time will come. You’ll have to keep your head up and not take it personally. There it is a competitive world and you wouldn’t have it any other way. It wouldn’t mean as much if it were simple. So stay cool, and keep driving. The next step is still in!
Cultivating the Persona
1. Be a great speaker to the public. When you have only one talent, it should be public speaking. Your face, your voice, you’ll at least be in the limelight until the election is over. People will watch you, and analyze every move you make. If you can convince them that you are qualified for the job with your winning smile, calm demeanor, and persuasion, it will be smooth sailing.
- Barack Obama and JFK are the most obvious examples. When Barack climbs onto the podium, his charisma just oozes from him. His skills in public speaking brought him to where he is today. Then there’s the famous debate on JFK / Nixon, where JFK was so calm, cool, then composed that he made the Nixon nervous, twitchy look like a joke. So just brush it up!
2. Have the closet. So while JFK had schooled Nixon for his charisma, it didn’t hurt that he looked 100x better and put together more. You have to look at the part if you are going to be in the public eye. Which means shoes, suits, and that beautiful pair of khakis that I’m-just-like-you. And those socks! Don’t forget about their shoes.
- Generally, you’ll need two looks: the stylish, fancy suit for your more formal events, and then the rolled-up Oxford and Khakis when you’re in town hall talking. This is valid for men and women, but a women’s suit may be either a skirt or pants.
3. Strengthen your opinions. If you’re asking people to vote for you, you’ll need to write your opinions and beliefs down. None of this wishy-washy flip-flopping — or you’re going to be called on faster than you can say “John Edwards.” Hopefully, you’ve figured out these pre-campaigns (though in the realm of politics, heart changes aren’t exactly unusual).
- You’ll probably be encouraged to align with the majority of your views. There is no book saying you need to do this. Your team might want you to, but you’re not going to have to do something damnable. It can get you votes, but what will happen when the time of bill passage rolls around? Doesn’t the Catholic Guilt get to you?
4. Be at one with the media and its antics. You ‘re essentially signing off on your privacy if you’re a politician. You are the closest thing there’s to a movie star. Everywhere your image is plastered from the buses to the Daily Show. And that’s not always going to be good. So while it will be hard to handle the daily photo shoots and still fake a smile, the criticism will be harder to handle. Will you take this?
- The mixture of politicians and scandals is so absurd it is almost funny. When you are running for office, prepare to face it all from your dishonorable military discharge to the challenging DUI conviction to a 27-year-old speeding ticket.
5. Getting tough. For the faint of heart, this is not a career. It will involve late nights, calling names, begging, brown-nosing, and putting up with the trivial lots and lots of things. There will be times when you feel right on top of the world and there will be times when you feel like it’s on top of you. You need to have a thick skin and an impermeable sense of confidence. Are you ready?
- It could also be hard on your loved ones. What one, Bristol Palin? So while this may be your dream, make sure that you also look out for them. When it feels like the world’s weight is on your shoulders you will need them.