For what it’s worth, here is my two cents worth about what the Republican Party needs:
– clear, vigorous advocacy of limited government, rule of law, and capitalism (including the point that New York City and State need to be made business-friendly)
– strong local organizations, with all basic leadership functions (president, treasurer, outreach, etc.) done well
– ongoing candidate search and recruitment
December 16, 2020
This is Project no. 1, The Speech to Inform, from the Speaking to Inform advanced manual. [[[[[[0:09]]]]
In modern American life, we see politics all around us – we see candidates, ads, debates, controversies – we see these everywhere. But where does all this come from? Does it just pop into existence, out of nothing?
Let’s do a little thought experiment.
Imagine that someone has some ideas for government policies that he’d like to see (let’s say it’s a guy) – that he’d like to see enacted into law, and he thinks the best way to do that would be to get elected to Congress and work on his proposals from there.
He knows that to get elected, he’ll have to get on the ballot, and to do that, he’ll have to collect signatures.
So he collects signatures, gets on the ballot, and then campaigns – he puts ads in the media and goes around making speeches.
And he gets elected.
Now let’s change the scenario just a little bit.
Everything is the same, except that as soon as this person decides to run for office, he finds some like-minded people who are willing to help him try to get elected.
They help him gather signatures, they contribute money for his campaign expenses, they help him place ads in the media, and they help him line up speaking engagements.
And he gets elected.
Now the second scenario is much more likely to happen than the first one is.
So where do candidates find people to help them?
Do they ask people randomly on the street if they’d like to help?
No – they go to places where people have already self-identified as being sympathetic to the candidate’s views.
These places are political party clubs, and they’re here, there, and everywhere.
But they get almost no press coverage, and only a small percentage of the population gets involved in them, so they are practically invisible.
And these clubs are sometimes called political machines.
That term is often used in a derisive way, as in, “Such-and-such terrible thing was done by a political machine.”
They’re practically invisible, and they’re political machines, so I call them “invisible machines.”
I think they’re interesting because so much of American political life happens in them, yet they fly under the radar most of the time.
Who joins these clubs?
In general, their members are people who would like to see certain values promoted in our society, but other than that, it’s impossible to generalize about them.
Some are well educated, some are not.
Some are articulate, some are not.
Some are wealthy, some are not.
And they come from all walks of life.
What goes on in these clubs?
They support candidates when they can, but generally they also have monthly meetings, and this will sound familiar to Toastmasters: They have speakers at their meetings.
They’re always looking for people who can come in and talk knowledgeably about issues that are of interest to them – education, law enforcement, programs to help the poor and the elderly, and on and on.
And when candidates turn up – either from inside or outside of a club – their members often volunteer to help them.
They help in all kinds of ways – collecting signatures, handing out literature, helping with campaign appearances, whatever it takes to promote their candidate and try to get people to vote for him or her.
And incidentally it’s when the candidates get on the ballot and start campaigning that they start getting press coverage – that’s when they become visible – but in general, the clubs remain invisible to the media.
There are several things that are good to understand about candidates.
First, they tend to be headstrong – sometimes that’s warranted and sometimes it isn’t. They’re convinced that their policy proposals will have the beneficial effects that they predict.
Also, they have to be thick-skinned. They go from one campaign appearance to another, and very often they have to face people who don’t like them and are quite vocal about it.
Candidates have to be able to keep on going in spite of occasional hostile receptions.
They have to be energetic. They have to have the physical and mental energy to do campaign appearances and other kinds of campaign work, during most of their waking hours for the duration of the campaign.
And they have to be risk-takers.
Most of them have good jobs when they’re running for office, and if they’re elected, they’ll have to quit their jobs, and then face uncertainty about what they’ll do after their term in office is up.
So they have to be willing to take major risks with their careers.
Now, we’ve often heard people say they’re disappointed in the choice of candidates we have.
But the candidates we have are, by definition, the ones who stepped forward and expressed their intention of running for office.
No one can be forced to run for office.
If we don’t have better candidates, that’s because you, you, you, and you aren’t running for office.
But don’t look at me – I don’t complain about the lack of good candidates.
There is one systematic way of finding good candidates.
Some clubs have candidate search committees – they try to identify and recruit good candidates, and that sometimes works.
So maybe I’ve gotten you interested in this – maybe you’d like to see for yourself these invisible machines.
Maybe you’d like to find a political club, go to a meeting, or a few meetings, and maybe even join one and get involved.
If you do that, that would be great.
But I just ask this of you – if you do that, I hope you’ll do it **in addition to ** being in Toastmasters – I hope you won’t join a political club and leave Toastmasters behind.
Because Toastmasters is where improving your communication and leadership skills can be a wonderful life-long adventure.