OPINION (FNN NEWS) – There have been many books written on helping us define and articulate what makes us tick. Those nuances and hot buttons that make us satisfied individually and in relationships. Things that we love. So it occurred to me: throughout my career in politics, I had never taken the time to break down the love languages of politics. Moreover, most of us don’t even realize there are categories that we fall into and often it’s our failure to know how we fit in that can either make or break our roles in politics.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR POLITICAL LOVE LANGUAGE?
The various grassroots categories we fall into are relatively straightforward. Some are fundraising skills, direct interaction like phone calls or door knocking, or less measurable components like social media and sign waving. I’d argue that each has value in its own right. Often, however, some are perceived to have more influence than others. The key is to identify what your strengths are and reward yourself by working in the areas that are best suited to your skill set and resources. I can’t tell you how many people tell me they don’t like to make phone calls or knock on doors. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for just about everyone in a political movement. Let’s explore your political love language.
Obviously, most midterm and Presidential election cycles open larger scale offices with traditional phone lines used by the volunteers. However, with today’s technology, gone are the days of having to make phone calls in a campaign office. Today you can actually be assigned access, utilizing your own phone, that allows you to log in and make calls from the comfort of your own home. This convenience, however, isn’t for the unfocused or passive volunteer. It’s very easy to let the distraction of the dryer bell or dog barking interfere with your focus and, thereby, interfere with productivity. If you are going to make calls from home, I suggest you do so in smaller groups and turn the experience into a team-building exercise with contest and prizes. This approach also reduces the stress level that comes along with making phone calls to begin with and should yield happier, more inspired experiences for the volunteers.
Many experienced campaign volunteers and staff will tell you there’s no better type of interaction to engage a voter than face to face. Certainly, there are many truths to this assertion. A few tips: Don’t be afraid to work your own precinct versus taking on areas of town you are not familiar with. Once you’ve mastered your own precinct, you’ll have a far greater comfort level to reach into other precincts that are outside of your comfort zone. It’s always easier to say, “Hi, I’m your neighbor down the street,” than it is to be in a neighborhood you know nothing about. However, just know that reaching outside your comfort zone is where true results are often gained.
There’s no secret that those who write checks to campaigns are greatly sought after. For some, the idea of simply writing a check is much easier than engaging in other forms of the political process. Other check writers become actively engaged.
Not all people skilled at fundraising have money to donate to campaigns. Some simply know how to host or organize social gatherings or have a comfort level reaching out to resources to donate to campaigns. If you choose to be part of the fundraising effort, make sure you work with the campaign staff so that collectively, you can come to an agreement that offsets your work with your participation in a fundraising event. Meaning, do nothing for free. Either agree to a percentage of what you raise or barter your help with access to the fundraising event you help produce.
Social butterflies often are everywhere, but really aren’t part of any one particular part of the political engagement process. But, don’t worry butterflies, you are needed too. Often events simply need more people in attendance so that opposition pays closer attention to the number of people at an event versus the actual role of any butterfly in particular.
SOCIAL MEDIA WARRIORS
If you’re involved in any of the various social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, you’re probably all too familiar with social media or “keyboard” warriors. Some people offer their opinions with little to no concern for the recourse from their statements. However, there is a positive, much-needed impact for campaigns and political parties that comes from those who can spin and engage in social media. It comes down to ensuring that true and accurate information is being shared in a constructive and informative way.
I believe sign wavers get a bad rap. Someone might be good at sign waving, but not necessarily be strong at fundraising, phone calling or knocking on doors. Sign waving is not effective in the beginning of a campaign and most likely won’t impact early or election day voting. However, perception is reality. If the general public is being touched by mail, phone, door knocking–and yes, sign waving–collectively, it will provide the campaign an overall perception of being larger and more diverse. Meaning, sign waving can’t hurt.
No matter what your political love language is, know that it takes an army of different types of soldiers to win a war. Politics is a blood sport and certainly not for the faint-hearted or fragile. That said, fundraising and direct engagement with voters will always prevail as the preferred methods of support and interaction. But, there are enough options to give everyone a valued way to engage in the political process.
Randy Ross is a political contributor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org