It felt like the hatch of Anti-Bush Pro-Kerry born activists were actually coming alive as political beings. I think only one of them had ever run for office before. Most had become energized during the run-up to the '04 presidential race. One after another, they got up and apologized for their lack of experience giving stump speeches. They explained that they were shy. They explained that they were running for office because no-one else was interested in the democratic slot ... in an area of the county where Republicans reign.
But you could tell they have passion. They are facing incredible odds in most cases, sometimes two to one. Worse, they face candidates with the backing of a strong, organized republican party. On the Democratic side, it seems that they are getting very little concrete help from the Democratic party. It 's not that the local party is not interested --one of the assistant commissioners from the county party was in attendance -- it 's just that getting a lot more organized is, well, not something that 's been done yet.
I have to wonder how symptomatic of the Democratic party at higher up levels this situation is.
I 've been working with a handful of candidates, helping them develop their personal narratives --the stories in their lives that exemplify who they are, the stories about others that inspire them. And, as a member of the media and someone with some training in counseling, I coach them a bit on how to present themselves better.
For one thing, I don 't think it 's a good idea to dwell on inexperience as a speaker. Maybe it 's okay to mention it 's your first or second time giving a political speech. But after that, it 's time to get down to being a candidate.
The candidates show a lot of humility. They are hesitant to voice their virtues. There is a time and place for humility. When you are asking people for their vote, their volunteer support and their money, you have to let go of your modesty and humility and your cool, and show your passion, your conviction --about the issues that are important to you and you have to tout your best features and strengths. Think about what your spouse, your parents, your kids, your best friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, your co-democrats would say that 's good about you. And try to tell those good features in a few- two or three --stories.
If you are running for a position where the environment is an issue, then tell a story about a local part, stream, tree or water supply. Put a person who was affected into the story and then tell what you did about it, or how you felt about it. Talk about the way your opponent or the other party handled it and then tell, passionately, how you would handle it.
If you are running for a position where families are affected, like a judge slot where you want to work in family court, then tell a heart wrenching story or two about a wife or children who went through a trauma or struggle, or were saved from suffering by a judge or an attorney who handled their case compassionately. Talk about how your experience has prepared you for helping families, while the other side is being supported by a law firm that specializes in representing developers and corporations. Ask; "Is that the kind of judge you want dealing with the families in your community? "
I was asked to run for a slot in local politics. I chose not to, because, with my other political writings, I 'd be used as a lightning rod by the other side to get out the right wing vote. And that would hurt the other progressive candidates. So I 'm working helping as many candidates as I can, particularly focusing on a few key people.
What 's Keeping YOU from Volunteering?
When you volunteer for a candidate, you don 't have to marry the candidate. You don 't have to work full time. You just have to show up or do some work some time. I 've made it clear to the candidates I am volunteering for, or their surrogates, that I have other responsibilities and can only give a certain amount of time. In every case, they 're happy to get my help. It 's amazing how much a little bit of effort can accomplish.
I took a break from writing this article and checked a missing book order I placed on Amazon.com. The order checking function was down, so, out of curiosity, I checked their job listings (I have worked for an employer in a regular job in 25 years.) and found some interesting job titles. How about this one:
Employee Life Cycle Specialist: Manage the new hire on-boarding process, including communication with new hires and managers, troubleshooting issues and questions, collecting paperwork. Now it seems to me that there ought to be a whole team of people who are helping these new democratic candidates doing democratic candidate life cycle specialist functions.
Web Services Evangelist: will generate grass-roots attention and support for Amazon Web Services among key industry opinion makers, journalists and technologists. The ability to identify, engage and win mindshare among third-party developers in target ISVs, systems integrators and collaborative technology providers is required. The democrats and progressives could sure use a team performing this function. The Republicans have a whole slew of policy promotion organizations, deceptively called think tanks, that do this work, and they have most of the journalistic sell-outs in the mainstream media to help them.
These two jobs are interesting and certainly didn 't exist just a few years ago. But neither did the current political situation. Democrats and progressives have to clean up their acts a whole, whole lot and get down to serious details. It 's going to take a lot of money. In this off year period, we need to keep giving. If you thought the dark ages of the middle ages were bad, you haven 't seen nothin ' yet. Wait until these trogolodyte American Taliban religious nuts steal and connive their way into even more power. You won 't be able to pee without them telling you how and when.
There will be elections in November, then more primaries next spring and more elections in November 2006. Do something now and then, or you 'll be fondly remembering when the US was actually recognizable as a democracy. Support your local political candidates. They 're local heroes who have the potential to grow into bigger, more national roles.