Hey I’m a politician – again! I’ve declared to be a candidate for Town Council in my home town for a by election coming up in a few weeks. It’s my second try at this, given that I unsuccessfully made a bid for a seat in the last municipal election (see my experiences in that here). I’m in this for all the right reasons, but apparently the idea of that makes people suspicious right away.
‘Why do you want to do this?’ is the constant refrain I hear. ‘Don’t you have bigger fish to fry, so to speak?’ asks one friend. ’It is a lot of work for not a lot of rewards’. ‘You should maybe think about higher levels of politics’ says another. After all you have a national reputation and a pretty impressive resume’. Well, thanks but I actually do believe in the idea of public service and being part of my own little community. I also believe (and I’ve written about) the nascent power of towns and cities. Town Council is where I want to be, and its not because I’ve failed at a different level of politics or because I’m using it as a stepping-stone to get to one.
Then there is that resume, which y’know I’m kind of proud of. I’m an economist, an author and a broadcaster. I spent more than a decade on television explaining the economy in non-scary ways to people (I was the on-air economist for Canada’s business channel). I’m the Senior Fellow at a think tank (my specialty is demographics and trends). I’m a keynote speaker in front of thousands of people. I’ve been a professor at Canada’s top business school. I’ve written three books on economic-type topics. I hold a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award for public service. Pretty impressive, huh? Well, not to everyone.
“I’m not sure about all that stuff on your web page” commented a friend with a background in marketing. “It makes you seem too smart. Maybe you should dumb it down a little”. Riight. Because that’s what people should want, dumber politicians. Got it (actually, he might be on to something there).
Of course, it is important to have a snappy message, something people can remember. My main two opponents in this race so far are both chiropractors, so my first thought was ‘Your non-chiropractic choice’. Okay, not perfect. Then again, I do know my message. I’m all about economic issues (get it, I’m an economist?) and to me that means government staying out of the way as much as possible, and out of people’s pockets. I abhor taxes, and think politicians ought to spend tax money as if it was their own. So I settle for ‘Protecting Your Tax Dollars’ and hope the message gets through.
And I really do hope my message gets through. It’s hard. The mechanics of running a campaign are still pretty new to me, and despite some awesome support it is all a lot of work. Reaching people when you do not have a lot of media channels available to you is difficult. And keeping your name out there when your opponents are clearly ready to out-spend you is a challenge too.
Then again, I like a challenge. I’d like some help too, so if any of you want to share your experience of working on a campaign, I’d love to hear it. (I’ll take financial support too, just saying). And when I want to fall into a trap of self-pity at how hard this is, I remember why I want to do it. I guess I should be quoting a great philosopher or thinker here, but the motivating quote that keeps going through my head is from the actor Will Smith. Talking about why he has succeeded, here is what he has said :
“I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things you got it on me in nine categories. But… You’re not going to out-work me”.
Work, my secret weapon. I’m going to have to put in a lot of that to win this campaign, but that’s fine.