How Do You Get Into Politics?

A friend of mine is a black middle-class woman, a mother, minster, and a leaning republican. She said that she always wanted to get into politics to make a difference, but didn’t know how.

She’s not alone.

Until 5 years ago, I thought that people were picked to run for office by magic. I believed that those who had successful businesses, were powerful community leaders, or were famous, were hand selected by the genies of politics to suddenly run.

That’s not quite how it works; but, no one will tell you.

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There are three ways to get into politics:

  1. Give a lot of money, or
  2. Be born into a family of politicians, and/or
  3. Work your tail off.

Naturally, with money comes access and power. If you have the money, give it regularly to your local or state party, as well as high profile candidates. When you’re known as the person everyone goes to for campaign contributions, you’ll also be remembered when it comes time to fill a high profile seat–especially because you’ll be able to fund your campaign. If you don’t have a lot of money, give at your level, and give to every candidate. Twenty-five dollars goes a long way in a school board or commission race.

Kennedy, Bush, Clinton… sound familiar? These names weren’t just attached to one candidate running one campaign. These families have held political dynasties for generations. Her mom hasn’t even finished her presidential race yet, and Chelsea Clinton is already one of the most talked about candidates of the future. Political families exist in every local area and state, and their heirs have a pre-paved runway to running for office.

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John and Caroline Kennedy. Photo Credit: Public Domain

What happens if you don’t come from money or a family of politicians? You work–and, you work until you’re known in your local party as the one to call to get something done. Prior to running his own campaign, Latino Indianapolis city-county counselor, Zach Adamson, was known as the go-to worker-bee of the party. He volunteered at parades and phone banks, knocked on doors and stuffed envelopes. He was an active part of supporting the democratic process–not because he wanted to run, but because he cares about our city, state, and country.

If you want to get into politics, get to work and give. Support those who are leading the way, and create lasting, meaningful change for your community.