I’m sorry you lost the election. Just because you didn’t get that sweet cushy chair in the big marble mansion doesn’t mean you still can’t make all those votes count. It’s time to ditch those sweatpants and get back to work.
“But where do I go from here?” you may wonder. “I’m broke and rudderless.” I know how you feel, buddy. At this point, I probably have enough hours of experience to teach a college course in campaigning. And this is where we have to have a serious talk, because:
Success may not end up being what you really wanted. If after all this you still want to help your community, then you may be in for a rude awakening. You don’t have to be an elected official to make a difference. As an elected, your community may completely disagree with your ideas of how to help them. You may need to put your personal beliefs aside, compromise more than you’d like, and respectfully listen to those who vehemently disagree with you. That’s going to hurt, maybe a lot. Take some time to go over the numbers, really listen to what the people have to say, see where the trends are headed, and reassess your situation. You may not be the right person for the job, and that’s okay. There are many ways to be useful without having to hold your bladder through yet another committee meeting.
“But how?” you may ask. “How can I possibly pick myself up and march on?” Well, imaginary runner-up, sit up and wipe the tears from your eyes with that oversized bib you wore because you bought a bigger tub of ice cream than you could really handle, and let me ask you something:
Why did you decide to run in the first place? Now, If you ran for office just because you collect nameplates like Hummel figurines, stop now. This path is not for you. Plus, those are easy to buy and you can give yourself all the titles you want. If you ran because you hope to one day force the world to kneel before you and bend whole civilizations to your will, then I urge you to see a therapist, because you probably have a Personality Disorder. But, if you got into this whole mess because you saw a change that needed to be made, or an injustice in need of righting, or a community in need of saving and you honestly thought you could be of service, then you’re in luck! Not only can these goals still be reached, but there are more ways of achieving them than there are willing participants.
Not all methods of success are recommended
“Maybe this isn’t for me,” you may finally consider. “That sounds terrible.” And it can be. Sometimes, elected officials get to do great things, and sometimes they have to slog through hundreds of pages of fiscal analysis at 4:00 am. You really have to consider the pros and cons of the job before you choose to apply next time, especially one you have to continuously reapply for. Which brings me to another point:
The power lies with the people. Whichever direction you choose to take, you need to understand the potential of a motivated group of people that voted… FOR YOU. Yes. You. Not a party, not a protest, but a person. Even after you remove the straight ticket pullers and the nutjobs who treat ballots like an uneducated March Madness bracket and just mark the craziest sounding names, you still end up with a bigger number than you started with. Sure, some of those will disappear quicker than it takes a free pizza to cool, but not all of them. Some will stand with you and fight for your issues. And with time and effort, you can grow those numbers. There is strength in numbers, but information and talent, too! The best way to utilize your newfound friends and followers right now is to stay in touch. If you haven’t yet, give your supporters a big thank you and remind them that you will continue to work for the community. Don’t disappear completely. Keep yourself active. Get up and move your feet. Inertia is a very powerful force. Just keep in mind that this works both ways and there will always be an opposition.
His theories follow you everywhere.
Tie up all those loose ends. You need to true up your books. A campaign is its own entity. It has its own needs, its own thirst for sacrifices, and its own bank account. More importantly, the government is allowed to and, usually, encouraged to keep an extra eye on things. This means that you had better remember to add every decimal and record every transaction. Tying up the loose ends of compliance is a must.
Find ways to re-engage and get involved in your community. You can find a different role to play that offers a chance to tackle some of the issues near and dear to your heart or you can give it another go in the hopes that more factors will swing your way next time. Either way, I still encourage you to get involved directly. Give them that better future you promised. With every person you help, you grow your influence and public profile, adding future votes with every step. In time, your efforts will likely be rewarded and your community will be in a better place.
About the Author | Trisha Kosloski is the Operations Manager at Grassroots Midwest. Trisha is key to ensuring that our candidate clients are compliant with campaign finance regulations as well as other key aspects of their political races.