Have you ever thought about running for public office?
Why not? What are you afraid of?
Well, don’t feel bad, fear of running for public office is widespread. Remember when Winston Churchill started painting he was asked, “ what qualifications do you have as a painter?” Churchill simply stated the only difference between a painter and a non-painter “is the courage to try.”
There are so many talented individuals with new ideas and superb organizational skills yet they sit back and let the unqualified run the local government. Incumbents are re-elected over and over mostly due to “name recognition” and voter apathy.
Other factors as to why voters support a particular candidate are: physical appearance, ethnicity, religious affiliation, race, gender, age, or peer pressure from friends or family. One instance of peer pressure involving a prominent local businessman comes to mind where he turned down participation in a fundraiser on the basis that his wife or family may see the opposing political party’s name on the check. As stated in one of my previous articles, “ in many cases one’s political party is receiving far more dedication than one’s country.
In many areas, candidates for public office seem to be diminishing in quantity, consequently the lack of competition also affects quality. According to an article in World Press, the scarcity of qualified political candidates is traceable to four main reasons: fear of public speaking; fear of being ridiculed in public, (thin skinned); asking for financial help from others is perceived as demeaning; and the fear of losing.
On the other side, we have those that are a bit too anxious to run for office. Historically, candidates that must be gently persuaded into running for office have proven to be more inclined to see the whole picture rather than just one isolated emotional issue.
A candidate’s motivations have proven in many cases to be more self serving than civic oriented. Such misguided motivations include: ego trips, monetary self improvement, improving ones business connections, or merely to subsidize a fixed income. Some may have a fervent belief in the rightness of their position or a visceral dislike for an incumbent, a party or platform. This type of candidate is usually well versed on one subject, but may be ignorant on the many other issues.
It is certainly true that some people run to gain a position or to acquire power or money, however many people also run for office, especially local office, to work for their community or to work for a cause.
Our main responsibility as voters is to be informed of the local issues and, most important, vote for the individual who will represent you and your decisions.
Mark Schenck is chairman of the Scotland County Republican Party