Having studied leadership for going on three decades and getting to rub shoulders with a number of leaders from all parts of the globe, I have discovered that there is one attribute that many share, which is rarely noted — their ability to remember names. Bill Clinton, for example, was legendary in meeting someone that he had not seen for years and yet instantly called them by name. There was even one man who claimed that he met Clinton again after meeting him twenty years before, and Clinton not only remembered his name, he even remembered the names of his father and mother!
The reason why this is so critical for anyone wanting to aspire to an office is because when a personal name is used, it makes a connection. When someone calls us by name, it says, I acknowledge you, I consider you worth knowing. It is this connection that those that are running for office need because without volunteer helpers, a candidate is doomed. Money and time are often listed as essentials to running for office, but without help, they are doomed.
About ten years ago, one very gifted young man who had solid credentials decided to run for the Lycoming County Commissioner. He saved up money to support himself to make running for the office a full-time job for an entire year. In that year, he visited every borough and township in the county and every precinct in Williamsport. He estimated that he met and talked with over 5,000 people. And he lost. It was a solo run, and that is never enough.
It starts with getting on the ballot in the primaries. A person who wishes to run for Pennsylvania State Assembly needs 300 registered voters to sign their petition to get on the ballot. For State Senate, it is 500, and as the position grows, so do the numbers; State Auditor General – 1,000 signatures, State Treasurer – 1,000, State Attorney General – 1,000, and to get on the ballot as a Presidential candidate – 2,000.
As my wife and I were circulating petitions for various offices, it was astounding how few people understand this process. One individual was shocked that we had a petition for President Trump — not shocked we were supporting him — shocked that he was not “automatically” going to be the Republican candidate for President. I explained that though some see him as having dictatorial powers, even he has to go through the electoral process like everyone else.
It is extremely hard for candidates to find these kinds of volunteers. Going door to door to get petitions signed is like being a door-to-door salesman — which everyone hates! Being willing to stand in a booth at a trade show or public event and discuss the pros and cons of various candidates is also not easy. Those who oppose the candidate that is being advocated will use the volunteer as a punching bag, which is never pleasant. Even the simple task of putting out campaign signs is time-consuming, as is the necessary task of picking them up after the election.
These front-line volunteer troops who are giving their time and energy to support candidates they believe in deserve all the appreciation they can get because it is a thankless, grueling task. They also deserve recognition, because the campaign volunteer is the true patriot. They are willing to be an active participant in the political process. It is this volunteer contribution that truly sets the United States apart in the world’s democracies.
For those interested in getting involved, the Lycoming County Republican Party can be reached at 460 Market St, Suite 125, Williamsport, PA 17701, Tel: (570) 601-4539 and the Lycoming County Democratic Party can be reached at 357 Lyons Ave., Williamsport, PA 17701, Tel: (570) 327-9172.