Like many budding politicos, when I was 22, I wanted to be a campaign manager. Then, I spent some time on the campaign trail doing voter outreach, helping with state legislature races and doorbelling for a presidential election, and I was cured of that notion.
Some people are cut out for the campaign life, and some people aren’t. I definitely wasn’t.
Political campaigns are one part college finals week, one part championship game and one part endless business trip. You sleep very little. You eat nothing but complex carbohydrates and fat. You face a constant barrage of criticism from the other side and a list of work that never seems to end. And, maybe, if you’re lucky, your candidate wins.
It’s not all bad though. Campaigns are like war in that they bond people for life fostering romantic relationships and life-long friendships. They provide valuable skills and experiences that you can’t get anywhere else. You learn more about the issues, how to talk to constituents and how to stay on message than you can in any other environment. And I firmly believe that even if you just sign up for a 72-hour program before the election, that every person who works in politics or for an elected official should experience campaign life first hand.
This week is part one in a series of posts that I call Project Campaign Trail. We’ll talk about what shoes to wear while you’re knocking on doors or dropping lit, how to dress for an outside the Beltway fundraiser and what to pack for the party conventions. Part two will be a more comprehensive look at what to wear, similar to what I’ve done in the past, but that won’t happen until mid to late September.
For those of you who don’t work in politics, don’t despair. The advice in these posts will be applicable to business trips, casual Fridays and weekend attire. Except for how to jazz up a campaign t-shirt, that’s not applicable to any other field of work.
As a kick off to campaign week, I actually need to solicit your advice. Recently several readers have e-mailed me looking for advice on how to maintain romantic relationships while one or both partners are out on the trail. I don’t have a reference point to provide them with good advice on this, but I’m sure that there are readers out there who can. So if you have some advice or experiences that you’d like to share for the benefit of your fellow readers, leave them in the comments.