Election time is almost upon us and everyone’s looking at the next person and saying “Why don’t you run for [Town Council, School Board, Library Board, fill in the blank]?”
Having years ago completed my last local political campaign, I believe it my “civic duty” to inform you of the sheer joy, the exhilaration, the unadulterated thrills that await you in the campaign process, should you ever decide to run for public office.
As such, here is your “Official Campaign Primer”.
First off, let’s face the facts – you need some money to run. It does, after all, cost a whole dollar to register as a candidate. Just think of the hot cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee you’ll have to sacrifice to afford that. Are you willing to forego such luxury?
Make certain that you carry a sledgehammer, a large crowbar, and a professional stapler at all times. These are the tools of the campaign trade. With these implements, you are able to brave the elements, to sink cheap garden stakes a full one-inch into the frozen New Hampshire tundra and place upon them your campaign signs. There is always an outside chance, at this time of year, that there will be snow banks in which to plant your signs. But as a rule, the snow will melt at least once during your month-long campaign, leaving your signs spread-eagled on a friend’s front lawn. It’s difficult to read them from that angle. So, the crowbar and sledgehammer are your best bets. The crowbar makes the hole; the sledgehammer drives things home. Not to be used on people.
Any Saturday before election, look for hoards of unshaven men and windblown women gathering on vacant lots that border major thoroughfares throughout town. They’ll be kneeling on the frozen ground, frantically pounding their stakes into the frozen topsoil. Occasionally cursing, they will also, of course, be continually blowing on their fingers in the bitter cold. These sad creatures are your future “town fathers”. Snap a picture for posterity…or future political arm twisting.
It’s best to choose the high road when competing against your fellow candidates. Slamming opponents does little good, especially if soon after a presidential campaign that itself may have been loaded with mudslinging. In a three-way race, it’s probably best to let the other two guys toss verbal grenades at one another. If you’re the one in the middle, you’ll benefit from that. This is the “Malcolm in the Middle” syndrome, which usually blossoms into ‘Everyone Loves Raymond”. It may be worthwhile to change your name to Raymond; Malcolm’s a little bit out there.
Practice smiling when you don’t feel like it. This trait will come in quite handy throughout your campaign. It’s an easy talent to pick up, especially if your child is just learning to play the violin and she asks you “Daddy, how did I do?” after two hours of practice in your kitchen. Nothing like a guilty smile to break down barriers and encourage hope.
Buy a tie if you’re a guy. This avoids the use of those pictures that someone inevitably snaps of you with your t-shirt and work jacket, which inevitably end up in a campaign ad somewhere. People will see these unflattering photos and toss funny remarks at you such as “Did they erase the numbers across your chest?” or “When did you get out?” Remember those people – they’re always guys – and follow them to the beach with your camera when they are wearing their brand new European low-slung Speedo bathing suits. Revenge is sweet.
When choosing colors for your campaign signs, select carefully. It you choose white, rest assured that it will snow and your message won’t be readily seen against the mounds of snow. If you choose green, rest assured that it will be a warm winter, spring will come early, and the green grass and leaves will sprout, again obscuring your green signs. Avoid earth tone colors – a sure sign that it will be a muddy mess during the campaign. Fashion experts suggest something tasteful, perhaps a deep mauve shade splashed across a delicate peach background. Fabulous…
Prepare yourself for Election Day. Weeks ahead of time, stand out in a blizzard or a downpour – preferably one of each, wearing just a raincoat and cheap shoes. Ten hours of this builds character and mental instability. Bad weather is one thing that will not let you down. You can be sure it will arrive to usher in your final campaign day.
Have your head examined before committing to this campaign process. There’s something questionable about people who stand out in the rain and snow for 13 hours, so that people who arrive to vote, can ask them why they are standing out in the rain and snow for 13 hours.
Above all – and this is the most serious part of the Primer – have fun. If you plan to represent your fellow citizens and gain their confidence, they need to see the real you. And the real you better be, well…REAL. Politicians are a dime a dozen. Real people are priceless. Good luck on your journey.
Editors Note, Since Joe ran it is no longer $1 to run, it is free.
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