Every political candidate must start his or her journey somewhere. If you ask them, many will tell you that they were intimidated, overwhelmed, or otherwise questioned their aptitude for such an undertaking with so much responsibility. But they pushed through, and many have risen to take some of the highest elected seats the world has to offer.
If you are a veteran considering running for office but are unsure where to begin, a good place to start is by asking yourself: are you a good fit for a political campaign?
What do we mean by this, exactly? The reality is, not every person is cut out to be an elected or public official. There is much at stake at even the lowest ranking echelon of politics, and the stress and public spotlight can be a lot for a person to handle. Many candidates will drop out or end their tenure earlier than anticipated once they get a real experience of what life on the campaign trail — and in office — is like.
But the idea of being “fit” for running for office expands beyond just a person’s suitability for the job. You must have the ability to do some introspection here, to observe the things about yourself that make you a good fit — and taking note of the things that may hold you back from a successful run.
Here are a few other considerations to factor in when deciding if you are a veteran fit for running for office.
Veterans running for office: What are your values?
We published a Values Guide to Running for Office last year, and there are many useful concepts to consider here. An elected official is doing a public service, at the end of the day. Therefore, politics should not be used for personal gain. This is a hard pill for some with large egos to swallow, and it’s best to get on the right terms with yourself when it comes to figuring out what it is you are wanting out of a career in politics.
How savvy are you to run and lead a campaign?
Sure, many candidates have campaign managers and a staff of volunteers and employees to help run the show. But this is most certainly not the usual case at smaller levels of government. So what skills do you bring to the table? How capable are you of being the face of your campaign, and of running the nuts and bolts if you’re thin on helping hands?
If you find you’re lacking in some of these skills, don’t let this deter you. Rather, allow it to motivate you to improve in those areas so as to give yourself the best chance at political traction.
Do you have the support system needed on the campaign trail?
Taking on a campaign at any level is a massive ask for anyone, and it’s important to have people you can rely on along the way. This is something you should have in place before the ball gets rolling. Many candidates call upon family and friends to help support their efforts; further down the road, a strong staff of volunteers, mentors, or trusted advisors can do a world of good for a stressed out candidate.
Taking these considerations into account are important as you build on your idea to run for office. The more preparation you take the time to do ahead of time, the better you’ll feel about your chances at success, and the more you’ll be able to focus on the task at home: changing the world for the better.