If you’re a candidate for office these days you’ve got a thankless job. A huge majority of Americans simply do not trust people in public office or seeking it. But rather than allowing that to stop you from running, you can use it to your advantage.
A big reason many people don’t trust government is how elected officials behave in office.
They act one way when they’re running, but become something else once they have won the job.
On the campaign trail they’ll often say one thing, then after the Election do something completely different.
And if the voters dare question the change in persona or positions, they are greeted with a holier-than-thou arrogant response.
It turns a lot of people off, especially me.
I don’t help people run for office simply because I want to win.
I do love to win, but I love helping good people get into office to make positive changes for their communities.
And if you’re interested in being a positive influence for your community, then you can’t allow yourself fall into the trap of being identified as a “typical politician.”
You need to stand out from the crowd.
You need to be a leader.
In my experience, here’s the three traits that voters want to see from candidates.
The voters want to see the real you.
They want to know you are a real person.
They don’t want you to be one way when you’re campaigning, and another when you’re in the privacy of your own home or at work.
This does not mean you have to perfect nor polished.
It means you need to be real even if you flub your stump speech from time to time.
Donald Trump is the perfect example.
He cleared the field of 16 Republican candidates to win the GOP nomination last year not because he was the most qualified person to run.
Trump won the nomination despite his many flaws because he came off as real.
He was authentic and stood out from the scripted professional politicians around him.
You don’t need to act like Trump to be authentic.
In fact, please don’t act like Trump.
It works for him, but I doubt it will work for you.
It wouldn’t come off as authentic and the voters would spot that miles away.
You should however be yourself and express yourself honestly to the voters.
It will go further with them than having everything scripted down to a T in your campaign.
Honesty isn’t a word that’s usually associated with politics and politicians.
It’s a shame because there are so many serious issues in our country that need to be discussed and debated honestly.
A nice infusion of truth telling would go a long way to restoring trust in our institutions with the public.
I doubt such a shift is going to come out of Washington or the major parties.
They’re entrenched in the zero-sum gotcha politics that contribute nothing but greater division to America.
If there’s going to be a change in our political climate, it must start at the local level.
It must start with you.
You need to be honest with the voters about where you stand on the issues.
You also need to be honest about what you don’t know.
Rather than making things up when asked about a subject you don’t have much knowledge, say you don’t know and will do your research then get back to them.
You might fear that such an answer might make you look unprepared for office.
Don’t worry about it.
You’re more likely to astonish the voters by telling them you don’t know and need to do some homework.
I’ve seen it work wonders with my candidates.
And when they get back to the voter after doing their research, the voter has often come on board as a strong committed supporter.
They not only saw that the candidate was willing and able to do some work, but that the candidate was honest about their lack of knowledge.
That by the way also helps demonstrate authenticity.
The worst thing a candidate or elected official can do is to come across as arrogant.
No one likes arrogant people.
I’ve seen people lose because the public viewed them as arrogant “know-it-alls.”
While we want our leaders to be confident and secure in themselves and their positions, we don’t want them to be full of prideful arrogance.
The fastest way to be labeled as arrogant is to talk down to the voters
Even if you believe you know the best path to take on any particular issue, you can’t be arrogant about it.
You need to listen to the voters and take in their points of view and their concerns.
You also need to be able to explain in a humble manner why you believe what you do.
And it doesn’t hurt if you can also kindly alleviate any fears and concerns the voters have about your positions.
History shows us that this approach works.
It’s what real leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan did.
They explained their positions to the people clearly, then brought the people along with them.
They didn’t decree it from on high and expect the people to fall in line with them.
No, they led and they did so with a confident humility and a sense of hope for the future.
There’s no nice way to say it so I’ll be blunt:
Don’t be a politician.
America has too many politicians. Be a leader.
Leaders are in short supply and desperately needed.
And you can demonstrate that you’re a leader on your campaign today.
You can do this by being authentic, honest, and humble with the voters.
Trust me, they’ll appreciate it and your community will be better off because of it.