Make Your Candidate Look Good

Not every American cares about politics enough to actually campaign for anyone, and that means one thing for the people that it does matter to: they have to work harder to get people to pay attention and motivate them to vote. Lots of people think these “smaller” elections—comptrollers, sheriffs, mayors, governors, and even members of Congress—don’t have much bearing on anything, which is categorically untrue. If there is an election for public office in any capacity, these people WILL actually be representing you in some way and you should pay attention.

So, my political-minded friends, what can you do to increase attention to these small, albeit still important, elections, and how do you steer focus toward the candidate you want to win? There are some obvious choices: if you have the money and are part of a PAC or something, you can get billboards, commercial air time, or radio spots, which will expose readers and viewers to the fact that there is an election and this very qualified person is running for a specific office. But that kind of money isn’t always feasible.

Luckily, though, there are some other ways to get the word out. Signs are a much more cost-effective attention grabber. Whether you put them on supporters’ lawns, street corners, or anywhere else that it is legal to do so, you can catch the eye of potential voters. If you go this route, there are a few things that you absolutely need to keep in mind:

  1. As I mentioned, you can only place these signs in legal locations. Putting signs on random stranger’s lawns so they see them first thing Sunday morning when going out for the paper is not going to help your candidate—it will just annoy the people you are trying to persuade. Likewise, signs that you post in illegal locations will likely be removed very quickly. This means that you will have lost the time you spent making the signs and putting them up, not to mention the money spent on materials. So don’t do it. All you accomplish is wasting money and time, and you make your candidate look bad.
  2. Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, but at the same time, are you going to respect a candidate whose sign says, “Vote Lewis for Cangress”? This might be the first time people are “meeting” your candidate. The last thing you need is to unintentionally make them look like an idiot.
  3. Once you know what you’re going to say and it has been proofread, have the capability to mass-produce signs. I usually use a hvlp paint sprayer and a stencil. This allows me the freedom to do whatever I want in any color I want. I create the slogan I want to use, make a stencil using a craft knife, and then put it on my desired material. With a quick pass from the paint sprayer, I get the exact same sign every time. It is an excellent and fairly cheap form of quality control. I can also save the stencil for future use—maybe the candidate wins the election and wants to run again in the future. I have found this is cheaper than getting signs printed in the long run. I also like this option because if I am going to a rally where there will be television crews, I can swap out signs from people who failed at step 2 above and give them something that is professional quality and reads correctly. Usually, if you do this politely, people will have no problem with it, so be gentle when doing so.
  4. Hand them out at campaign headquarters, even if campaign headquarters is your home. Get them into the hands of like-minded people who support your candidate and let them spread like wildfire.
  5. This is incredibly important: after the election is over, regardless of the outcome, COLLECT ALL THE SIGNS. Recycle them, toss them, save them to reuse next time; whatever you have to do to get them out of the public eye, you need to do. It shows people that you care and are responsible.

I wish you good luck!

Campaigning for Your Candidate

Participating in American politics is a noble calling in my book. It is not something to give lip service to and forget about. You have to do something concrete and active to keep the system alive. It is wise to teach children the importance of elections and the democratic way of life when they are young. We can then replenish the constituencies who care about current issues and legislation on the table. One way to get their attention (from grade school through high school) is to have them help in a campaign for your favorite local candidate.

There is a lot of excitement hanging in the air at the candidate’s headquarters. People love the buzz. Kids can volunteer to man the phones, clean up after the volunteers come in, make coffee, or put up banners and posters in the immediate vicinity. Just give them a staple gun and let them loose. They love to meet important visitors and be part of the hundreds of selfies taken all day long. It is a very basic and simple way of making the introduction to real American politics on the smallest scale on up. They will learn to associate tasks with issues in the long run. They will see how grass roots concepts start and develop and how mainstream campaigns are conducted.

I am advocating perpetuating the system in this blog, of course, by starting with your children and those of your friends and neighbors. Kids can go door to door with flyers and to ask permission to put up lawn signs. Politics is not just an intellectual pursuit that is reserved for mere discussion and argument. It is very down to earth and tangible. Plus, there is nothing so exciting as election eve and waiting with fellow supporters for the returns to come in. Win or lose, it will be a memorable night.

There is a lot to be learned as you can see for people of any age, especially if it is their first time in the trenches. The camaraderie built by volunteers at headquarters and polling stations is infectious. People will want to come back for the next election and may become committed for life. They will never “forget” to vote again. Kids can learn to explain candidates’ positions to others, thus enhancing their communication skills and social aptitudes. They will become the voters of tomorrow. Plus, they will learn to care about their country’s future and how what is done at home or in Washington can impact their lives.

So start small and buy some staple guns. Then invite the youth of your region through their after school programs to join your campaign. Use an organizer who likes kids to lead the way and help these young volunteers find their footing. Children are impressionable and an experience of this kind can make a huge difference in building good citizens of the future. Getting involved in a political campaign should help kids earn extra credit in school as a kind of hands-on civics class. Talk to local teachers and spread the word.

Election Night Insomnia

There is nothing as exciting as election night, local or national: it is electric. You wait and wait and wait for the inevitable returns. You are into it! You get anxious when the tallies are close and winning is in sight. Anyone into politics goes through this regularly every couple of years. I actually get wound up days before and the eve of the election is the worst. I toss and turn in my bed thinking about the exit polls and what is in store. I want my candidate to prevail, but I go through all kinds of machinations thinking about the reverse.

You can think “what if” until you drop off into slumber land. If the wrong person wins, how does it affect your life? In many cases, it doesn’t much matter, but in others it is vital. Your issues of concern have to be met. It doesn’t just apply to the main jobs of mayor, president, congressman, etc., however, as there are always propositions and bonds to consider. Some of them like gay marriage are landmark decisions.

American politics can be a way of life for some, whether you are a volunteer or just an ardent participant. It is a civic duty that unfortunately many avoid. I can never understand the negligence. Nonetheless, I am doing my part and staying up late to watch the returns. That could be through the night. If I drink a lot of coffee, it is understandably hard to fall asleep come dawn.

We all have our methods of getting back to a nighttime routine. I don’t like to mess with Mother Nature, but sometimes insomnia takes its toll and a pill or two is advised. Nothing heavy duty, mind you, just an over-the-counter gentle and safe sleep aid that is not addictive. The ingredients don’t usually cause allergic reactions or drug interactions with prescription medications. You can even take the antihistamine Benadryl to fall quickly to sleep. Otherwise Nyquil will do just fine. There are a few others with similar ingredients. Just read the label.

Regular or true insomniacs have a different problem. They may have a real sleep disorder. Or perhaps it’s caused by a problem with their bed being too firm or soft, or not finding the right pillow. With election night, however, I am just keyed up. It’s like the night before as I mentioned. Two or three days of a little extra help is all I need to get back to normal once again. It is good to keep your favorite on hand so you don’t have to find an all-night drugstore.

Deep, restorative sleep is a blessing every night. Many tout natural and homemade remedies along with teas, milk, etc. I love one I found online called Dr. Parsley’s sleep cocktail. This is for real. He invented it for Navy SEALS and others experiencing modern western life who find themselves in a toxic environment of heavy stress and processed foods that inhibit natural sleep. Insufficient sleep results. With this special potion, you wake up rested and in a better mood. Who wouldn’t want that!

The best sleep remedies don’t “trick” the body like prescription medication that can force a response. I am not sure how they work, but it is more subtle. Often there is L-tryptophan involved and a bit of melatonin. I would suggest trying a few and assessing your response.