Are you considering running for office on a local, state, or federal level? Although nearly 61 million people in the US live with a disability, not many of them run for office. People with disabilities face challenges when it comes to starting and maintaining a political career, but organizations like the National Council on Independent Living are trying to create visibility for those who are and are urging people with disabilities to vote and have their voices heard.
Here are some things to remember when considering your political campaign.
Canvassing is key
Making sure you as a candidate are visible in the community is integral to the success of your campaign. Organizations like the NCIL are dedicated to helping you maintain that kind of visibility, but it also depends on your ability to get out there and garner attention from the public. This is where canvassing comes in.
“What makes people with disabilities a good group for public leadership is their creative and adaptable approach to access problems on campaigns,” Sarah Blahovec, the disability vote organizer for the NCIL, told Pacific Standard in 2019.
Essentially, Blahovec’s point is that people with disabilities are well-suited to coming up with innovative ways to solve the issues facing their communities because they have had to surmount difficulties their entire lives. In addition, people with disabilities are in a unique position to empathize firsthand with a huge swathe of the population.
Network, network, and then network again
Any veteran politician will tell you that it’s critical for you to make friends and connections throughout your entire campaign. Networking will bring you closer to the people who can get you in the door at political functions, but it can also bring you closer to the people in your community.
Sitting in on city council meetings is one way to distribute your network and make sure you know what’s going on in your area. You can listen to the perspectives of the people in your locality, see what their desires and current issues may be, and show them that you care about their issues (this goes hand in hand with canvassing and maintaining visibility as a candidate).
Boost your credentials
Leading a campaign team is no small feat, and going back to school can help prepare you to be a successful leader. For example, by earning an MBA, you’ll learn leadership skills and gain knowledge in economics, communications, managing people, and decision making. If you choose an online program, you’ll be able to balance working on your campaign with completing the coursework.
Every political campaign needs a website, no matter their stance or personal situation. Creating a brand, making sure you have a marketing strategy, and acquiring the digital design assets required to showcase that brand are the first steps to building a good website. Your website needs to be an introduction to who you are and what you stand for as a candidate, so it needs to be easy to navigate and easy to read.
Good luck in your run for office!
Starting a campaign is like starting a business. Start from scratch, believe in your message, and create something people will value. Creating something you truly believe in that can benefit others is like finding the gold at the end of the rainbow — it seems like a myth, but when you incorporate all these tips and remember your roots, you can do anything you set your mind to.