Saturday, August 27, 2005

Get Known In Your Community in Order to Win

I'm a graduate of the Valparaiso University School of Law. The school's alumni magazine, The Valpo Lawyer, came in today's mail. I donate a lot of time, money and effort to the school.

While the Libertarian Party of Indiana is very important to me, I'm engaged in other pursuits. All of these pursuits relate to each other. The Libertarian Party of Indiana often relates to my other pursuits. This includes my giving the party a positive face to those who otherwise might have no feelings or negative feelings about the party.

If you're known as a good volunteer for your church or the local soup kitchen, you will be known as a person in which it's "safe" to cast one's vote, even if you're running on the Libertarian ticket.

Well, I got a lot of "publicity" in this edition of The Valpo Lawyer. But my purpose is not to brag, but to make a point - if you're known, perceived to be competent, supportive of others in the community and willing to be public with your support, others will find you to be a credible candidate, or at least a credible representative of Libertarians in general.

There's a picture in the magazine with me standing next to television sports broadcaster Bob Costas. This is because I attended and supported the school's conference on Sports Law and Ethics last February. The magazine reports that I'm now a member of the Lawyer's Council of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union (how's that for those who claim the LP is drifting towards the right!). Finally, it reports that Politics and Law and Indianapolis Monthly lists me as an Indiana Super Lawyer.

The above shows why people introduce me around Law School events as a lawyer and the Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Indiana. It is because my activities in the community known as the Valparaiso School of Law reflects well on me, the school and thus it reflects well on the Libertarian Party of Indiana. And they make a point of mentioning my political affiliation because I'm sure they sense it is important to me.

When people introduce you and mention one of your activities, it usually is because they believe your activity is a legitimate one.

What's preferable then? Is it the Libertarian candidate who rages about injustice, but rarely fills out media questionnaires and when they do, leaves blank the section on community involvement because there is nothing to report? Or the Libertarian candidate who speaks temperately but with conviction, who always responds to the media and needs an additional page to answer the community involvement section?

Who gives the Libertarian Party of Indiana more legitimacy, the candidate with no community involvement and track record - or the candidate involved in the community and with a positive track record?

I'm going to guess the public is always going to pick the later of each of the above.

If you want to win - get involved with your community. You don't have to be the "Grand Emperor" of the community organizations. But it will reflect well on you and the Libertarian Party of Indiana if you can state you volunteer at a home for the mentally ill every Friday afternoon.


Sean Haugh said...

Well said. I learned this the hard way, analyzing two strong races of ours in 1998 and 2000 which did well but still performed below expectations (we expected wins). These two candidates did everything right, raising and spending money competitively with their opponents and everything else you are supposed to do during a campaign. They made us proud.

In both cases, I could only identify one missing ingredient, a lack of prior community involvement on their resumes. This is what led me to the conclusion that voters have to know who you are even before you file, and involvement in community organizations is the best way to accomplish this.

Mike Kole said...

Another very worthwhile thing to do is to get involved with your homeowners' association (HOA), if you happen to live in a community that has one.

While it may not seem terribly significant, being an HOA president or other officer is excellent resume` material for being appointed to the Board of Zoning Appeals, which in turn is the stepping stone to Town Councilor or County Commissioner.

Moreover, there is great good you can do in an HOA, as they can be some of the most oppressive nanny organizations going, telling you what kind of mailbox to have, what color paint you can't have, etc.

The one thing that definitely doesn't work is to exclusively write manifestos from the safety of your home computer.