Tag Archives: politics

4 Concerns that Every Aspiring Candidate Must Overcome

We all aspire to change our communities for the better; to right the wrongs we perceive in the places we call home. On the local level, perhaps we want to push for better schools. On the national, a better tax system. Regardless of the specifics, every candidate enters into the political ring with the determination to enact a specific change for the better. In our current gossip-laden political culture, it’s often all too easy to forget the determination and bravery pushing an agenda to a skeptical public requires; the task can seem more than a little daunting to those with minimal political experience. That said, running for office is nevertheless a productive step for those who have ideas and passion enough to see them implemented. Below, I’ve listed four concerns that every aspiring candidate will need to overcome in order to succeed in their political endeavors.

 

Inexperience in Politics

A successful career in politics doesn’t need to begin with a degree in government from an Ivy League school or an internship with a high-flying Senator. While connections and packed resumes certainly help establish authority, candidacies are built on ideas. Moreover, the stereotype of the common “lawyer-politician” is becoming increasingly hollow; according to research from Harvard Law School, the number of lawyers in politics has dropped from 60% in 1960 to under 40% in 2016. While those without backgrounds in law or government are fewer than those who do in the Senate and House, it is possible for those from other fields to achieve high political office. Now more than ever, message and personality takes precedence over resume on the campaign trail.

 

That said, those interested in running for public office should consider volunteering and networking with campaign veterans to get a better understanding of what running a successful campaign entails before launching themselves into a race.

 

Cultivating a Message

Candidates need a strong message that appeals to voters. Relatively brief, this platform should highlight a candidate’s strengths and preferability without seeming boastful or critical of an opponent. Most importantly, it must be consistent; a recent Stanford University study found that voters tend to punish candidates who “flip-flop” on issues, and that they often refuse to acknowledge a candidate’s new position even after politicians disavow their previous ideas. Candidates need to seem stalwart and trustworthy if they want to succeed!

 

Launching a Fundraising Campaign

No candidate enjoys spending hours upon hours fundraising, but the efforts are necessary. Campaigns need money to run; according to Campaign Finance Institute’s analysis of Federal Election Commission, an average senatorial race cost over $10 million in 2016. The expense, of course, will vary depending on the office, but the need for fundraising skills will always remain.

 

Steering Clear of Negative Politics

Sometimes television has it wrong. The day-to-day workings of a political office are far less Machiavellian than some films might suggest; however, some aspiring politics still fear being drawn into the so-called “dark” side of politics. However, that distaste for corruption and machination is exactly what voters want in an honest candidate. No candidate needs to sink into dirty politics in order to get ahead!

 

Launching a campaign demands effort, determination, and passion from political newcomers and veterans alike. Those who have ideas to better their communities and the drive to see them implemented should make their voices heard by throwing their proverbial hat into the ring. Obstacles abound on the campaign trail – but successful politicians have the tenacity to overcome any barriers in their path to leadership.

 

Age Restrictions & Requirements in Politics (A Global Look)

How old does a leader need to be to have our trust? The answer varies across nations; some say the voting age of 18 is old enough even for a president. Others urge caution and set the age bar  as high as forty. Oftentimes, elected offices in regional and local offices also have determinations for how old a candidate must be before presenting themselves as a candidate. Differences aside, all nations lay out specific requirements for their leaders. I outline just a few of the nation-specific guidelines that aspiring leaders must adhere to in the post below.

 

Canada:

All candidates who seek public office must be at least 18 to run in an election. The exception to this is for senators, who must be at least 30 and own a minimum of $4,000 worth of land in their appointed province. Candidates must additionally possess property or assets valued at $4,000 more than their totaled debts and liabilities.

 

Current President: Justin Trudeau, age 45. Trudeau is the second-youngest president in Canada’s history behind Joe Clark, who was sworn into office on the eve of his 40th birthday.

 

France

In France, presidential candidates must be at least 18 years old. Interestingly, this is below the 24 years required of a senatorial candidate.

Current President: Emmanuel Macron, age 39. Macron is the youngest president in France’s history.

 

Germany

Candidates for the German presidency must be at least 40 years old at the time of their candidacy. All other local, regional, and national elected positions require their candidates to be 18 and over.

 

Current President: Frank-Walter Steinmeier, age 61

Current Prime Minister: Angela Merkel, age 63

 

United States

Presidential and vice-presidential candidates must be at least 35 to run for office. The requirement stands at 30 for senators and 25 for representatives. On the regional level, states set their own rules regarding age specifications for positions such as the governorship. Usually, though, these candidates are required to be 18 or 21 in order to run.

 

Current President: Donald Trump, age 71

 

United Kingdom

Excepting Scotland (whose age limit is set at 16), candidates must be at least 18 years of age to run for all parliamentary, assembly, and council positions. This rule applies not only to national-level UK positions, but also to those at European, devolved, or local level. The age for candidacy was 21 until 2006, when it was officially lowered by the Electoral Administration Act.

 

Current Prime Minister: Theresa May, age 61

 

The Rise of Airbnb in Europe

Airbnb co-founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia have come a long way from renting out airbeds on the floor of their San Francisco apartment and hawking cereal boxes to their guests to make ends meet. With millions of apartments listed worldwide, the company’s current value stands at $31 billion, positioning it as the second-most profitable startup next to the ride-hail giant Uber. In March, financial papers reported that Airbnb’s Q3 numbers leapt a full 50% since the same time the previous year. The online service’s major successes may be due in part to its branding – Airbnb sets itself apart from other hospitality services by marketing itself as a waymaker for experience, rather than as a mere booking service. With Airbnb, the service explains, visitors can step beyond the typically packaged tourist experience and live as a local. This pitch has brought them far in their stateside expansions and is demonstrating similar success in nations abroad.

 

However, financial gains haven’t been limited to the company alone. In 2015, European hosts collectively made about $3 billion in revenue from their short-term rentals. Studies conducted by the platform’s research group further found that Airbnb guests tend to stay twice as long and spend twice as much locally than those who use traditional hotel services, with a full 42% of guest spending taking place in host neighborhoods. Analysts with the site postulate that this high guest engagement is due to Airbnb’s mission to facilitate authentic experiences; guests want to explore, rather than follow a predetermined “tourist” itinerary. Thus, Airbnb has a considerable positive impact on both domestic and international economies; in my current home city of Barcelona, the platform estimates that it generated over $175 million in 2013 alone, and further supported approximately 4,000 jobs.

 

That said, Airbnb is not content with the passive benefits it provides to city centers across the globe – it wants to do more. After releasing projections that the company will have boosted European economies by 340 billion euros by 2020, Airbnb announced its intent to invest 5 million euros in “ongoing investments for innovative, locally sourced projects” that vitalize authentic, local experiences. This is hardly a new move for the platform; to date, Airbnb has supported local projects in Barcelona, Berlin, Bologna, Dublin, Hamburg, Lisbon, Milan, and London. Airbnb has also committed itself to providing authentic travel experiences for its users by offering over 2,500 activities and tours across the world. Recently, the site even partnered with Vice Media to curate specialized tours in South Africa, Paris, New York, and Tokyo. While these planned travel experiences are offered as contest prizes to promote the partnership, they will soon be available for purchase to the general public.

 

Tourism has been forever changed by Airbnb’s entrance onto the international playing field, and we are all the better for it. Gone are the days of tourism homogenization; of grinding a city’s culture into digestible chunks for visitors. Today, travelers prize the authentic experiences that Airbnb facilitates. Airbnb has revolutionized tourism on a global scale – and we are all the better for it.

Office Talk: 8 Key Roles in a Campaign Office

A campaign is often defined by a single person – but it takes the help of considerably more to run well. Depending on the size of the effort, campaign staff sizes can vary from a few dozen to a few thousand paid and volunteer workers. Successful political campaigns rely on the dedication and effort provided by their workers. However, even the most eager staff needs leadership to function effectively; rampant disorganization can tank a campaign effort just as quickly as a painful media misstep. The following are a few of the most vital managing positions necessary to build a strong, effective campaign office.

 

Campaign Manager

The best campaign manager acts as the glue that holds the various pieces of the campaign together. Anyone who takes on the job must be able to juggle responsibilities under pressure; tasked as they are with managing day-to-day operations, hiring, communicating with the candidate, and implementing fundraising efforts, a campaign manager can’t afford to be disorganized. Excellent interpersonal skills and charisma are a must.

 

Communications Director

A person in this position must feel comfortable around the press. A campaign’s communications director is responsible for building a positive relationship with the media, drafting campaign communications and literature, and establishing press opportunities for the candidate. Ideally, a director will already have a significant number of media connections that they can use to further the campaign’s reach.

 

Fundraising Director

A campaign needs money to make progress – and the Fundraising Director is responsible for making sure that it never grinds to a halt. A staffer in this role must prepare and oversee all fundraising events, and make sure that the candidate is meeting their fundraising goals.

 

Field Director

A person in this position is responsible for organizing direct voter contact and outreach efforts. They must develop an effective strategy for identifying and convincing undecided voters to cast ballots for their candidate. A person selected for this role must be high-energy, and able to effectively organize volunteers, staff, and tremendous amounts of data on a daily basis.

 

Legal Advisor

A campaign’s legal advisor makes certain that the campaign is safely within legal bounds at all times.

 

Political Director

The ideal political director seeks to communicate positively with a diverse array of constituencies, as well as to forge relationships with the organizations which represent them. Additionally, they must work in tandem with the field director to build and implement outreach plans with the goal of expanding a candidate’s support base.

 

Scheduler

A candidate’s schedule is demanding, and can be chaotic if improperly handled. The campaign’s scheduler is tasked with ensuring the candidate is briefed and ready for events, and is further responsible for accepting, declining, and seeking out potential appearance opportunities.

 

Office Manager

There’s no avoiding it – campaigns can be hectic. The Office Manager is responsible for making sure that the office itself is well-run even as the campaign erupts into freneticism. The staffer appointed to this position makes sure that the office is well-staffed, supplied, and organized on a day-to-day basis.
These are only a few of the many positions required for a smoothly-run campaign; but without even one of these leaders, even the most well-meant efforts would undoubtedly fall into disorganized chaos. Maintaining excellent leadership, dedication, and organization is key to successful political efforts.

Office Talk: Qualities to Look for in Potential Campaign Staffers

 

Building a campaign team is no small feat. Finding the right people to fill vital roles can be one of the hardest parts of setting up a campaign office; those you hire will have to be prepared to handle the fast-paced schedule and occasionally exhaustive work required to keep the movement organized and on-track. It’s often difficult to gauge whether an interviewee is up to the job they applied for – but they need to display a few basic qualities to pass muster.

 

Tenacity

Campaign staffer can’t wilt at hard work. The jobs in a campaign office often entail long hours, hard work, and sharp deadlines. Those expecting to work a set schedule and take frequent social media breaks will have to look elsewhere for a job. The ideal candidate will understand that the job requires a wholehearted commitment, and will hold steady through the period of the campaign.

 

Flexibility

Even the most organized campaign requires a great deal of flexibility from its staffers. The job often requires travel and late nights. Applicants should know that working a second job or attempting to stick to a set schedule will most likely fall to pieces within a week. Recruiters need to through sort their applicants for people who can commit and have flexible enough schedules to work with a campaign’s intense scheduling needs.

 

Creativity

The best campaign staffers are those who can think outside the box and be creative under pressure. Sometimes, new ideas are just the thing to jumpstart a  static strategy and put new life into engagement efforts. Managers should look for staffers who can be thoughtful and innovative while working productively within the campaign’s organizational structure.

 

Intelligence

Staffers must be intelligent, have excellent instincts, and possess the requisite technical and interpersonal skills for their position. The ideal candidate is able to juggle their responsibilities with poise, intelligence, and charisma, and work productively within the team. The best staffers will face problems rationally, and offer methodical solutions in a timely manner. Moreover, their emotional intelligence must be as sharp as their book smarts; given the interpersonal nature of the job, staffer will often need to engage productively with stressed staffers, argumentative community members, and alert reporters.

 

There’s no doubt about it – picking the right people for positions in a campaign office is difficult. But campaign managers who put in the extra effort to build a strong team will find their work rewarded with a better-organized and more productive office.

Political Fundraising 101

Elections are a multi-billion dollar business. In fact, in 2016, candidates for all federal offices spent more than $6.8 billion in the hopes of getting elected. Before candidates could rack up campaign expenses of that size, however, they had to raise all the money. As a veteran of countless campaigns, I know just how challenging fundraising can be for any candidate, from presidential hopefuls to small-town mayors. If you’re trying to improve fundraising for your campaign but don’t know where to start, take a look at this list of potential strategies.

Minimize Costs

Ironically, fundraising costs money; as a result, you’ll need to dedicate a portion of the money that you bring in to pay for the costs of your fundraising efforts. With that in mind, try to reduce the amount that you spend on fundraising in order to increase the amount of money that you have to spend on the actual campaign. Perhaps instead of having your next rally or reception catered, you can have a cookout or even a potluck with your supporters in order to shrink the bill.

Set Various Tiers for Events

Try as you might, you won’t be able to finance your campaign solely by hosting $500-per-head dinners. Instead, you’ll need to diversify your fundraising efforts, which you can do by creating different categories of events that target different classes of donors. For example, you can design a suite of VIP events—like formal dinners or cocktail receptions—that target high-value donors, and at the same time, you can develop initiatives that engage a broader audience but generate smaller contributions, like social media or direct-mail campaigns. This way, you’ll be able to run fundraising efforts simultaneously by targeting multiple groups, and you’ll prevent yourself from tapping out a certain donor base by putting all of your fundraising eggs in one basket.

Leverage Relationships

People don’t like to be cold called, let alone cold called and asked for money. It’s far more effective to reach out to a potential donor with whom you have an existing relationship or connection. When you begin your fundraising efforts, make a list of all the potential high-value donors that you have a relationship with and ask your staff to do the same. Reach out to these individuals first: You can use your relationship or connection with them to ask for a contribution or to ask if they can put you in touch with their friends or colleagues who might be interested in supporting your campaign. In doing so, you can cultivate an entire network of engaged donors who feel personally connected—and, with any luck, invested—to your campaign.

Political Polling: An Introduction

When you watch or read the news, you often encounter a myriad of statistics describing the public’s attitude on any number of issues or events: 56% of the country supports a bill currently before Congress. 48% of Americans want reform on a given issue. 61% of voters approve of a speech given by a major candidate. You may be wondering where all of these statistics come from, and the answer is simple: polling.

Public opinion polls have been staples of political campaigns for decades. The first opinion poll was conducted in 1824 by a Pennsylvania newspaper and showed Andrew Jackson ahead of John Quincy Adams in that year’s race for the White House; Jackson went on to win the popular vote but lose the election. Unlike the straw polls that predicted a win for Jackson, today’s polls are highly sophisticated and can forecast electoral victories, describe public opinion, and more while controlling for various factors, including age, gender, education, race, socioeconomic status, and so much more.

The complexity of modern polling requires thorough planning before a poll is even put into the field. This begins with the question of the poll’s purpose: What information do you want to learn, or what attitude do you want to measure? Will the poll guide your campaign’s strategy or is it simply intended to take the public’s temperature? Furthermore, it’s vital to consider the poll’s audience—will it be for the candidate’s eyes only or for public consumption? And, of course, you’ll need to develop the language for the questions you’ll be asking, which can be a difficult task.

There are also various mediums of polling, so political operatives and pollsters must consider the most effective medium to structure and conduct polls. While telephone-based polls were the standard method of polling for much of the twentieth century, they’re much less of an viable option today since fewer and fewer people actually answer their phones. Instead, many of today’s polls take place online, which are radically less expensive and faster. Online polls can offer campaigns a wide range of additional options, but they do present their own challenges, including issues with surveying representative samples of the population in order to achieve the most accurate results.

Despite the challenges and investment of effort required to conduct polling, however, most candidates and strategists agree that polling is an invaluable asset for any campaign. If you don’t believe that, we’d be happy to put a poll together to prove it.

How to Make Your Voice Heard

Contacting U.S. elected officials to ask questions and share your opinions is an important element of democracy, but it can often feel like your voice isn’t heard or valued. Representatives are hard to get a hold of during their busy schedules, and a form-letter response you may receive after sending a letter or phone call to their office can make it seem like you aren’t getting your point across. Here’s a list of tips you can use to help make your voice heard by your elected officials.

Visit their Office

It can be hard for your representatives or members of their staff to read and respond to every letter or telephone; after all, since the size of the average congressional district is more than 710,000 people, your letter or call will be one of thousands—perhaps millions—in a year. But while a call or letter can be overlooked, it’s impossible for your representative or their staff to ignore an actual human being in their office. Learn the location of your representatives’ offices and make a point to visit regularly so that you can ensure your voice gets heard and isn’t lost in the shuffle of a busy office.

Join a Group

If there’s an issue that you’re passionate about, do some research and see what groups in your area are working to bend the ear of your representative on that topic. These groups have more of a chance to make contact with representatives or catch their attention since they can leverage the work—and potential votes—of large numbers of people towards a common cause; this makes it easier to broadcast a message since it’s carried by many voices. Your group can visit your representative’s office, attend their town halls, or even invite them to one of your own meetings. Or, if you can’t find a group that’s right for you, go ahead and start one yourself!

Write Letters to the Editor

If you’ve made several attempts to contact your representative but haven’t made any progress, you can consider writing a letter to the editor in a newspaper explaining your view and asking your representative to respond. While you can shoot for a national newspaper like the Wall Street Journal, you have a greater probability of being published in the local paper—plus, since your representative will be concerned with the press coverage they receive within their own district, they’ll also be more inclined to respond to you, either directly or in a follow-up letter of their own.

How to Discuss Politics on Social Media

It’s often said that there are two topics you should never discuss at the dinner table–religion and politics–in order to keep conversations civil and polite. Social media users never got that memo, however: According to a study published by the Pew Research Center, more than 30% of social media users feel “worn out” by politically-oriented posts, and over half of them characterize digital interactions with people of opposing political viewpoints as “stressful and frustrating.”

Political conversations on social media become even more likely for people like me who have made careers out of politics and campaigning, so you quickly learn how to turn these moments from stressful and frustrating to rewarding and informative. Take a look at some ways that you can responsibly and politely discuss politics on social media!

Consider Your Purpose

Whenever you post on social media, whether it’s about politics or not, there’s a reason behind each post. You might share a photo from your vacation to let everyone know you had a great time on the beach, for example, or you might want to post a status inviting people to an event you’re hosting. When you post about politics, keep your goal in mind. Are you trying to raise awareness of a particular issue? Are you trying to declare your support for a candidate or a policy? Are you trying to change people’s minds or to see what they have to say? So, before you post, think about the purpose of the post and how you can best communicate it.

Stick to the Facts

The best political arguments–as in arguments that are well-constructed and well-phrased–rely on evidence to support their claims. If you refer to the dangers of a certain proposed bill, for example, make sure that you have the most up-to-date information about it and that you’re laying out that information for your digital audience. One of the best ways to do this is by including links to articles, videos, statistics, and other sources in your post so that people can educate themselves on the issues.

Never Make it Personal

If people are already going to be agitated when they encounter political posts on social media, you don’t want to fan that fire by insulting them. Don’t fall into the trap of calling someone stupid just because they don’t understand or agree with you and avoid blanket statements like “Anyone who supports Senator Smith is an idiot.” While these comments might momentarily inflate your ego, talking down to someone who disagrees with your point of view doesn’t help spread your message or convince people to change their minds. Instead, being insulted will only make people dig in their heels and turn what could have been a positive discussion into a screaming match about politics.

Of course, it’s OK to disagree with someone’s opinion and to tell them so, but don’t do it by insulting them. Always keep your focus on what they have to say about the facts, and avoid typing out of anger.

Join Private or Closed Groups

One way to ensure political conversations never get out of hand is to keep these discussions to small circles of informed, respectful individuals. Consider creating a private group and inviting people you trust to ensure that people will remain cordial even when opposing viewpoints are being discussed. You can add more people to the group as time goes on, but starting off with a select few will give you an opportunity to share ideas in a respectful space while also developing your skills discussing politics on social media.

The Importance of Local Politics

If you walk up to someone and ask them to name the President of the United States, they’ll be able to answer your question in the blink of an eye. If you ask them to name their congressional representative or their senator, however, you might be faced with blank stares, and some people may be unable to answer. Ironically, in fact, as you ask people to name their local officials–their state senators or legislators, their city councilmen, and so on–they have a harder and harder time responding.

For a nation that was founded on the idea of citizens’ direct access to representatives, this lack of awareness about local officials is ironic. After all, while their jurisdictions may be smaller than that of presidents and senators, local officials arguably have more influence in people’s daily lives than commanders in chief. Of course, presidents and national leaders have much more of an ability to set the political agenda, but local officials have a tremendous power of their own in terms of how they deliver government services to citizens.

For example, does it matter more that the president signs a bill into law strengthening police forces, or does it matter more that your mayor and city council get to decide how to spend money on the police and how many officers patrol your neighborhood on a daily basis? And while senators may campaign on the importance of creating jobs, local officials play a role as well by offering incentives to attract new businesses to town and by passing laws, such as ordinances and zoning codes, that can determine what jobs are available in their communities.

This actually gives local politicians surprising influence during state or national elections. As a result of their work to provide government services to citizens, mayors, city council representatives, sheriffs, and other local leaders develop strong relationships with voters, which they can use to mobilize those voters in support or against particular candidates for higher office; therefore, mayors can offer state or national-level candidates important endorsements and help energize voters to go out and volunteer for them as well.

Local politics may lack the glamor and spotlight of national campaigns, but despite this, local politics play a pivotal role in the operations of the government and nationwide elections. President Ronald Reagan once remarked of America’s local communities, “That’s where miracles are made, not in Washington, D.C.,” and there are thousands of mayors, state legislators, sheriffs, and other local officials who would surely agree with him.