Political candidates. Who are they? Where do they come from? What is their mission? Are they some odd form of alien species or are they “one of us” and if they are “one of us” what happened to them?
It is fairly safe to say that all current political candidates were indeed born of a human mother and father. They were brought up in what could be considered normal communities, the same educational, spiritual and social institutions as the rest of us. However, along the way something happened to change them. Although people are unique individuals there is a commonality among political candidates. As such most candidates can be categorized in one of two groups. The candidate who craves power and influence and those who have had something really bad happen to them or someone they love and they want to do something about it. The romantic categorization for that urge to help is social justice.
The best leaders are folks who were asked to run for office because of a genuine affection for their community. There is something that ties them to the community that makes the candidate want to do that they can to see that community thrive. Often they were asked by friends, family and neighbors who think the candidate would do a good job representing them in government. They sign a petition with a prescribed amount of signatures depending on the political Party or political race. Once they have enough signatures and turn them in to the Secretary of State’s office and the signatures are approved they become and official candidate in the race for political office.
Over the past twenty years or so another darker more sinister brand of candidate has emerged. These candidates are essentially hired guns for special interest groups that need a connection inside government for more control over the governmental aspect of their business. That type of candidate’s mission is to keep the regulators out of the affairs of the special interest group and to sponsor legislation crafted by the interest group so that business can go on as is wished regardless of what impact that has on the electorate as a whole. With the Supreme Court ruling in the landmark Citizens United case corporations have been given even greater opportunity for influence on the Election process helping their hired guys to be elected.
Election cycles have grown longer, more expensive and much nastier. Those who were not born into or supported by those in the higher tax brackets are not given access to the resources to run strong campaigns. This effectively shuts out many good prospects who genuinely want to serve the people of their District out of the running.
So what does that mean to you, you the average citizen just wanting to make a living and go about your business? It means a lot actually.
The reason why many people feel that their elected officials do not represent them is because more and more elected officials aren’t doing a good enough job of accurately representing the constituents back home. Now there is some shame and blame games that can go on about why this is however what it really boils down to is those who would be good leaders don’t run for office. If they are brave enough souls to run they often are not able to win.
There are many reasons for this yet often the so called good guys that do run for office are unable to find personnel and financial resources needed to successfully defend against attack campaign strategies of the traditional type of candidate. They are unable to manage the dirty cesspool that modern politics has become in order to run a successful campaign. The other factor that should be an asset yet often becomes a liability is that some good guys are just too honest and nice. They are ill prepared for the cut throat double dealing straight out lies and deception propaganda that is thrown their way. That dark magic of spin that might make the Devil blush.
This begs the question have we the public cheated ourselves out of some really good candidates from being too picky? Can there be a good leader that has had a divorce, perhaps some financial trouble in the past, or made some bad decisions on their journey to who they are now? And should a person be judged on whom they were before or who they have become in light of learning from previous mistakes?
The public also seems to be very vulnerable to the innuendo of attack ads. Not verifying information or asking who benefits from the ad? Is this candidate really no good or are they simply wanting reforms and policies that a powerful special interest is against?
Does the criterion that is commonly used by media and political polls accurately reflect the experience and skill set necessary to do a good job as an elected official? Or in the name of ratings do media outlets muddy the water too much for an average non-political citizen to make an educated decision about the candidates up for consideration? Does the low salary for elected officials especially at the local levels of government box out anyone who needs to work for a living and does not already have a lot of money to participate? Should you have to “pay to play”, be able to forgo a 9-5 job, serve as an elected official and still be able to pay your bills while serving in public office for poverty wages? Do campaigns really need to be that long and expensive?
These are questions that we the public must ask and have answered because they are the reason we get the candidates we do and the reason why so many people feel they are not being represented accurately by those who are supposed to represent them in government.
There are many factors. Often public service is a thankless job for low pay. There rarely seems to be a policy decision made that doesn’t result in someone calling the politician disparaging names. The political climate has seemed to get more ugly and hostile with time as political parties used to run a campaign and then put it aside after the election in order to do the work in front of them. Now throughout the entire term political parties are playing politics to the extreme putting the system into ineffective gridlock where the whole system of government could be held in jeopardy if some way to move forward and take care of business is not created.
What candidates need from their supporters are votes and money to run ads, make signs and get their message out to the voters. They need people to make calls, house parties to meet constituents and get petition signatures. I have a joke that if you ever feel like you are lonely with too much money get on a candidate’s mailing list. It will fill up your inbox and empty your wallet if they could. The thing is “We the People” need to start helping more We the People kind of people to get elected. Elected in all sorts of races from local school board and city council to national Congress and the President, it is a challenge however it still is possible. It is the way the people get the type of government that serves them instead of an imbalance with special interests. It’s how we get our country back!
To find more about what it takes to run for office where you live visit your Secretary of State’s website. The following link is to a page that has links to all the Secretary of States offices throughout the United States of America. The Secretary of State is in charge of elections and often there is a link on the page with information about what is needed to be a candidate in that state. Contact your Secretary of State for more information.