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Author Topic: Research: how do you become a politician?  (Read 440 times)

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Offline BeorningTopic starter

Research: how do you become a politician?
« on: July 20, 2016, 12:06:59 PM »
This is a serious question for use in possible writing projects :)

Basically, I'd be interested in learning how does one become a politician (especially one of an MP caliber) in other countries, especially in the States? Back here, the process is a bit murky for me, too: from what I know, you have to join a party (obviously) and make yourself known and useful in the eyes of the more influential members of the party. Then, they might put you on a voting list for parliamentary or local government elections... But how does one make themselves useful and influential enough to earn this kind of privilege? I'm not sure. I've heard that a lot of butt-kissing is involved...

How does that work in the States? How does one, say, become a congressperson or a state governor?

BTW. Mods, if this topic would be fitting at the PROC forum, please feel free to move it :)
« Last Edit: July 20, 2016, 12:08:30 PM by Beorning »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Research: how do you become a politician?
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2016, 12:43:50 PM »
Serious answer - and I am leaving out flash-in-the-pan politicians and concentrating on the serious kind:  The first thing you do is get involved in your community.  Find things that need fixing and come up with possible solutions.  Develop plans.  This involves talking to a lot of people and convincing them that you, personally, are a person that can get the job done, and can convince other people to help you get the job done.  It is advantageous to know the limitations of the position that you are trying to get elected for in this respect.

Next, you run for an office.  Generally best to start local, such as school board, state delegate, alderman, mayor, whatever.  This is where the tactic of kissing hands and shaking... I mean, shaking hands and kissing babies comes into play.  Get to know the people who would be your constituents.  Tell them your plans.  More importantly, let them get to know you, so that come election day you aren't just a random name on the ballot.  Random names only win if the known names suck.

And there you have it.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Research: how do you become a politician?
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2016, 03:20:27 PM »
Interesting... So, you have to know your constituents to have a chance of winning, be involved in your community etc.? I'm not sure too many politicians over here do this kind of thing...

Offline Oniya

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Re: Research: how do you become a politician?
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2016, 03:28:23 PM »
Interesting... So, you have to know your constituents to have a chance of winning, be involved in your community etc.? I'm not sure too many politicians over here do this kind of thing...

It helps to at least be known by your constituents.  Given a choice between two equally unknown 'products', having a name that people recognize is going to tip the scales.  Of course (as I mentioned earlier) if they know you and don't like you, then the scale can tip the other way.  So to improve your odds, you want people to know you and like you, and you get that by knowing what they want.  Whether you are genuine about it and plan on actually trying to implement what you say goes towards whether or not you advance in your political 'level'.

Offline MTalos

Re: Research: how do you become a politician?
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2016, 11:09:21 PM »
This is a serious question for use in possible writing projects :)

Basically, I'd be interested in learning how does one become a politician (especially one of an MP caliber) in other countries, especially in the States? Back here, the process is a bit murky for me, too: from what I know, you have to join a party (obviously) and make yourself known and useful in the eyes of the more influential members of the party. Then, they might put you on a voting list for parliamentary or local government elections... But how does one make themselves useful and influential enough to earn this kind of privilege? I'm not sure. I've heard that a lot of butt-kissing is involved...

How does that work in the States? How does one, say, become a congressperson or a state governor?

BTW. Mods, if this topic would be fitting at the PROC forum, please feel free to move it :)
For the US,
The shortest answer is: It depends.
A less short answer is: Make friends in a party.
To get to the US Congress, it takes making a lot of friends - friends in the party, and friends with deep pockets to fund your re/election campaign.

Story time:
Growing up, my Dad was Mayor of our small (< 1000 people) town. He got there by attending town council meetings for a year or two, then deciding to run against the Mayor when they had a difference of opinion on certain matters. He was Mayor for a few years, then got promoted at his day job, and didn't have time for Mayoring, so endorsed a friend who ran and won. Once elected, his friend gave him a spot on the town council.

Anyway, the town was small enough there weren't really "parties", often there was only one name on the Ballot (my father ran unopposed for most of his tenure). But he was registered Republican and after he won the election some fellows from the state level Republican Party came and talked to him about running for State government. He turned them down because he lived about 2 hours drive from the state capital, and he was making more at his white collar job (even if he'd said yes, it wouldn't have been a sure thing he'd have been selected).


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Re: Research: how do you become a politician?
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2016, 11:25:17 PM »
Interesting... So, you have to know your constituents to have a chance of winning, be involved in your community etc.? I'm not sure too many politicians over here do this kind of thing...
This is how it's supposed to work.

In reality American politics has become surprisingly dynastic and insulated from the general population to an unsettling degree. So in general you don't really have to do a dang thing for your constituents. You just have to know the people who are willing to fund your bid for whatever office you want.

This is national of course.

On the state level it's more like it's supposed to be.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Research: how do you become a politician?
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2016, 12:05:18 AM »

If you want a little inspiration with regard to the sleazy side of politics, I would recommend the following movie. It's a comedy, so don't take it too seriously. It's about con man who finds his way into politics.

( Btw. this appears to be the entire movie )

The Distinguished Gentleman (1992) - Eddie Murphy, Lane Smith, Sheryl Lee Ralph Movies



Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Research: how do you become a politician?
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2016, 04:21:23 PM »
Okay, so here's a question: are there people who *start* their careers at running for Congress? Or do the parties only nominate candidates who have achieved something on a local level?

Also, are there any young Congress members? Young, like being in their 20s or 30s?

Offline Oniya

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Re: Research: how do you become a politician?
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2016, 04:49:37 PM »
It's possible that one of the Kennedys 'started' that way, but in that case they had the family name going for them.  The youngest Congressperson on record was this guy, who somehow got elected despite being under the minimum age of 25 for a Representative.  (Senators nowadays have to be at least 30, so you'd be going for the House if you were in your 20s)

And, because Wikipedia has a list for everything, there's one for the youngest legislator of each session of Congress:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_youngest_members_of_the_United_States_Congress

Quite a few reps in their late 20s.

Offline ThePrince

Re: Research: how do you become a politician?
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2016, 03:08:03 PM »
Okay, so here's a question: are there people who *start* their careers at running for Congress? Or do the parties only nominate candidates who have achieved something on a local level?

The party votes for who they want to nominate in either a state or district primaries.

Let's say that I wanted to run for my states senate as a Democrat. I would have to go to the state Democratic office, tell them which office I wanted to run under, I would have to fill out some paper work and pay a fee to the state Democratic Party and then my name would be on the ballet for the state democratic primary. Who ever got the most votes would be the Democratic nominee and their name would be on ballot to elect the states senator in November.