George Bernard Shaw once wrote that “an election is a moral horror, as bad as a battle except for the blood; a mud bath for every soul concerned in it.” We are constantly reminded that politics is a sly profession, however, being exposed to the behind-the-scenes shines new light on Shaw’s words.
From late December to early January, I had the opportunity to work on the Perdue/Loeffler senatorial campaign in Georgia and can attest that campaigning forces you into the mud bath. While it was incredibly challenging, and often disheartening, work, I learned a lot and would encourage anyone given the chance to participate in a campaign. From the dozens of lessons I learned, these are the four most important:
1. “Keep Pushing”
Our team had the goal of having “knuckles on a door” by 9am and we continued knocking until sunset. We worked long days, rain or shine. We averaged walking 10 miles a day. Every afternoon, however, our supervisor sent out a mass text which detailed the progress of the day and encouraged us to “keep pushing.” Canvassing is one of the least glamorous, most grueling aspects of a campaign, however, it’s also one of the most important. Despite its difficulty, it is important to recognize that your efforts are a part of something so much greater than yourself. Knowing that your team, political party, and candidates are all working towards a common goal is incredibly motivating. Despite the weather, hours, and mileage, keep pushing towards the end goal.
2. Establish Relationships with the Voters
Throughout the duration of a campaign, you will likely come into contact with the same voters multiple times. Several people I canvassed with, for example, went out of their way to knock on the same house week after week. The voters recognized some of us and were excited to discuss election predictions and campaign efforts. Yes, the goal of canvassing is to secure votes for your candidates, but building relationships with the constituents is equally as important. Humanizing your political party, being personable, and establishing relationships will most likely attract more voters to your cause. A voter is more than a survey or a number in a spreadsheet; they are real people with real problems that you have the opportunity to help. See voters as people, foster conversations, and change is likely to follow.
3. Build Bridges for Your Future Self
I met a lot of people while canvassing and built many bridges. Participating in a campaign exposes you to a wider circle of influence and introduces you to people with similar interests, beliefs, and ambitions. Take advantage of this wider circle: engage in conversation, introduce yourself to as many people as possible, volunteer for additional tasks. Thinking long term is important; you might cross paths again with these people again in twenty years and having a common beginning will serve you well. Canvassing and other entry-level campaign work results in a plethora of bridges you can cross later in life. Laying the foundation is the most important part.
4. Being Forced Out of Your Comfort Zone is Invaluable
While canvassing, you will more than likely come into contact with someone who challenges and disagrees with your ideas. Instead of responding in defence, however, it’s important to remember that progress is achieved through mutual respect and common ground. Instead of looking at opposing perspectives as a setback on the campaign trail, approach them with excitement as you will learn more from these individuals than anyone else. Ask questions, raise objections, actively search for common ground. Although these conversations can be daunting and uncomfortable, stepping out of your comfort zone and allowing yourself to be challenged yields invaluable lessons and forces growth.
Ultimately, the Georgia run-off elections did not go our way. Losing an election is upsetting, but it is absolutely heartbreaking to lose having been a part of the campaign. That being said, I would still encourage everyone to participate in a campaign regardless of political interest. I learned innumerable lessons, expanded my professional circle, and grew in my understanding of politics. On the surface, losing the election, and subsequently the senate, is detrimental, however, I would argue that this outcome provided additional lessons.
The Georgia results have left an already bruised Republican party bloodied. 2020 and the first few weeks of 2021 have presented many unpleasant setbacks yet instead of fearing for the nation’s future, I am reminded of something Winston Churchill once said: “This is the lesson: never give in…in nothing, great or small, large or petty.” It is time now to step back, acknowledge our shortcomings, reconvene, and set our sights on 2022. Our nation’s brightest days lie ahead and we must be prepared to usher them in.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.