3 Tips for Novice Political Candidates with Disabilities
by Ed Carter
If you want to advocate for people with disabilities, you can start by reading informative books, including those published by AAPC Publishing. When you are ready to take that advocacy to the next level, you should consider running for office. Running for office can be an especially powerful tool for protecting and helping people with disabilities when you are living with a disability yourself. It doesn’t have to be intimidating either when you keep these tips in mind.
Social Media Can Make or Break a Campaign
Are you savvy with social media? If so, you already understand some of what it takes to win an election! Social media can be an extremely effective option for raising money, recruiting volunteers, and raising general awareness of your campaign. To make the most of social media for your campaign, you will need to ensure your campaign is verified, and then you will also need to choose compelling pictures and videos to compliment your posts. Since you will be advocating for and trying to connect with voters who are living with disabilities, making your social media posts accessible is also important. Inclusive social media posts should utilize tools like alt-text, captions, and transcripts to ensure that all users can connect with your campaign.
If deciphering all of this on your own sounds like too much of a headache, you shouldn’t give up on your political dreams just yet. That’s because you can always hire a social media influencer via freelance job sites to handle your social media marketing strategies for you.
Fundraising for Small Campaigns Can Be Simple
When you think of politics, you may also think of money, and this is for good reason. If you pay attention to presidential, congressional, or senate races, you know that candidates can end up spending a fortune on their bid for public office. During the 2018 midterm elections, for example, congressional candidates spent a whopping $5.7 billion on their campaign efforts, but running for a local office doesn’t require billions or even millions of dollars. In fact, anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 could be enough to cover campaign expenses if you plan on running for city council in a mid-sized city, but you could end up spending a lot less than that.
To get a better idea of what you will need to spend to get elected, you can request campaign reports to access data from past candidates. You can also see where those fundraising dollars came from in past elections. The latter will also help you decide where to focus your fundraising efforts, aside from the social media platforms mentioned above. Some of the most common ways that political candidates fundraise include phone banking, canvassing, and hosting events.
Effective Communication Skills Can Win Over Voters
Now that you know how social media and fundraising can impact a campaign, and how you can use these tools to win an election, you need to know how to overcome or at least push past any anxieties or fears about talking with voters. Since one in five adults living with autism is also living with anxiety disorders that can make social interactions difficult, this can be especially important for keeping your campaign from overwhelming your emotions.
Your first step in overcoming social anxiety should be to seek effective treatment. For people who are on the spectrum, treatment for anxiety can include medications or cognitive behavioral therapy, so make sure you have access to these resources before you sign up to run for office. Then you will have the added confidence needed to effectively communicate with voters. Actually, one of the most effective campaign strategies you can use to connect with voters is to listen more than you speak. You may want to work on your active listening skills as well.
Of course, so it takes a bit more than the tips above to run a successful political campaign, but at least this guide will help you get started. Just remember why you want to run for office and how you can help your community members by getting elected. After all, representation can mean so much when it comes to people who are living with disabilities.
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