Everyone is looking forward to 2008: the official end of the George Bush nightmare. We hit one milestone with the replacement of his destructive brother with the more moderate Crist last week. Democrats made great strides last year—-retaking the House, the Senate, and here in Florida, we made strong gains in the GOP stranglehold.
We need quality people to run for office. If you are considering running for office next time, I wanted to throw out a few pointers:
- Determine your platform. Emphasize the right issues. Here in Seminole County, we have the following: High property taxes, the free reign developers seem to have here, education concerns, the rising level of violence... There is no shortage of issues that need attention. As long as you are willing to fight on behalf of the PEOPLE, we need you.
- Seek help from US. Here in Seminole County, the reddest of the red, we have been wearing out our shoe leather walking the precincts the past year, and have refined our databases. The key to not wasting your time is learning who the targeted voters are and reaching out to them. We can also give advice, put you in contact with who you need to talk to, and help you win.
- Start campaigning NOW. It’s never too early to start, especially if have low funds. Now, I am not saying you need to run advertisements at this stage—-that would would be a waste of money. But NOW is the time to meet people, talk with party leadership, meet with local activists, write your campaign plan, and start building up your organization.
- Public speaking. You can't win if you can't communicate. Join a speaking group and practice.
- Learn how to communicate in moral terms. This is crucial in a red state. Look at this good example from D-Senator Salzar (redstate CO): "The minimum wage rewards work. Repealing the estate tax helps rich people get richer without risk or effort. Lax corporate oversight allows big businesses to evade taxes, deceive small investors, and raid pension funds."
- Emphasize security. Rightfully so, this is the number one issue on people's minds. Unless you are running for an office that does not involve security, this needs to a primary focus of your agenda. This is how we won the last election, and lost so many times before. And the GOP has squandered any credibility on this issue months ago.
- Faith. Get over talking about it. This is the Bible Belt. As I wrote last year, the deep south has a long cultural tradition of people expecting public officials to acknowledge their faith. If your moral foundations stem from your faith, why not share it? The era of Christian values only being limited to opposing abortion, euthanasia, and gay marriage is over.
- Fight for the rural voters. There is no coincidence that the red state voters are predominantly rural--the conventional wisdom was always to write them off. Democrats assumed that there would never be an opportunity for the party that represents the wealthy elite to win them over, and yet, the GOP targeted them successfully by using points 5, 6, and 7. Just like our veterans, the rural voters are used and abused by the GOP—and yet they are considered by both parties as a reliable voting bloc for the GOP. We have it easier to win them over because what we stand for is what they stand for--no deception required. Visit the rural areas and fight for them.
I am not the end all, be all of running for office in a red area. But I do hope you will take my advice seriously. Good luck--remember, its never been a better time to be a Democrat!!
Quicknote: Godspeed to Carol Cox, who left to devote full time to her rapidly expanding company, DEMSLINK. You will be missed, and thanks for all you've done.