Hello from the campaign trail!
We’re five months into the season with about two months to go. It’s been a little bumpy so far, but that’s okay. I was prepared for things to be difficult, especially since I had planned from the beginning to break a few unwritten rules.
See there’s this formula that all candidates seem to use in order to get elected. The formula is as follows:
Announce candidacy + raise a bunch of money + recruit volunteers + set up an awesome website + add a volunteer button and a donate button on your website – never touch your website again + (buy yard signs)*500 + (buy door hangers)*10,000 + (print mailers)*voters*mailing service fee + (pay for billboards)*10,000 impressions + (knock on doors)*voters who will likely vote for you + meet the candidate night that only a few friends will attend + pay for phone calls and/or text messaging – annoy some voters + fingers crossed = win the election!
When people get “creative”, it’s usually to move around the elements of the formula.
Granted, I do find it fascinating to look at voter lists and precinct data and find ways to connect with people. But I want to do so much more than what typical campaigns try to do. See, the whole vision and purpose of a campaign is to get my name out there and make it stick in people’s minds long enough for them to vote for me in November. Research shows that I have to create roughly seven different impressions in order to accomplish that. So that is why all of the billboards (seen a few times), yard signs (seen a few times), door hangers (seen at least once before going in the trash), postcards (seen at least once before going in the trash), text messages, and phone calls are so important.
But you know, there are additional elements to the formula that people forget. There are elements of human nature, human conditioning, and all of the other things that people are constantly asked to endure. Along with the fact that COVID-19 has been turned into a political weapon, there is voter fatigue, misinformation, fear, and voter apathy. There is so much more to consider than just how many door hangers I need to order.
From the beginning I never intended to follow the formula. That formula, especially the principles behind the formula, is just not for me.
Of course, that means getting into trouble a few times for trying to do things differently. No, I haven’t had any legal trouble. In fact, the law is pretty good about allowing candidates to get creative, given a few parameters to provide transparency and protect voters. But I keep being nudged back towards the formula, back into the traditional campaign path. I am starting to understand why it’s so hard to make any real change in politics. Change means changing up the formula. Changing up the formula involves risks and takes away the comfort of hopeful guarantees. (There are no real guarantees with campaigning.) Politics is filled with people who want the guarantees, people who prefer the formula. After all, it was the formula that helped them win, right?
As a voter myself, I get sick of being thrown salesman level material in exchange for my vote. (Is that all I’m worth??) So, I’m willing to experiment. I’m willing to use my campaign as an opportunity to collect new data based on innovative efforts.
Here are some ideas I have for the remaining months of my campaign. Feel free to give your thoughts and feedback on my ideas, since they aren’t set in stone. Collaboration is a specific ingredient I use regularly, so don’t be shy!
Online campaign efforts:
I plan to write articles to share my thoughts with voters on a variety of issues. I also have written and plan to write more general articles about politics. These can all be used to strike up conversations — I hope.
I have a few videos in the works, from an educational video on taxes, to a more light-hearted video about myself. These can help voters get to know me or learn something about the current system.
I plan to create memes and images that get my name out there while also sharing an inspirational or comical thought. These are pretty common, so I’m interested in more ideas to help them stand out.
I have worked on my website — www.emilyforutahsenate.com — to make it more informational and professional. I’m open to more feedback.
Traditional plus efforts:
I recognize that not everyone is online. I have this crazy idea to write a letter to voters and mail them to some and hand deliver them to others. (I’d better send the ones I plan to mail NOW so they get them by November!) Door hangers and postcards are fine, but they don’t really give enough space to really talk about anything. Democracy, to me, is a conversation. It’s a negotiation of ideas. I need something more than just a few bullet points to accomplish that. I also plan to include an invitation to write back and become political pen pals. I doubt anyone will take me up on it, but it’s worth a try.
I am fortunate to have a donor who is providing door hangers and yard signs for my campaign. I can see the need for certain items of the campaign formula to provide the sense of legitimacy. I haven’t figured out a creative way to expand on this, but maybe that’s okay.
I just got another professional picture taken of myself and part of me is so tempted to share it with a mustache and funny glasses drawn in. I feel like politicians have to take themselves so seriously. We all kind of take things too seriously. Granted, some things are definitely serious, but I think it helps to laugh a little. But then, I haven’t decided if this is a good idea. Like with any experiment, when certain things are combined it can all blow up in your face.
Back to work… 🙂