According to the CDC, one in four adults live with a disability in the U.S. Yet people with disabilities are severely underrepresented in American elected office. While there are a handful of politicians with disabilities serving on the national level, many of us don’t know of any in our state or local governments.
There’s only one way that representation of disabled individuals can improve: by those with disabilities running for office. If you have a disability, holding an elected office could perhaps be the most effective way of bringing change to your community and surrounding areas. And chances are you have developed characteristics over time that make you an excellent candidate for a leadership position, such as resilience, creativity, and problem-solving skills.
But that doesn’t mean running a campaign will be easy. Political campaigns are known for being brutal, relentless and challenging in many other ways. However, if you know what you’re getting into, are led by a deep conviction to contribute to your community, and dedicate yourself to thoroughly preparing, then you can put yourself on the path to victory. We Hire Heroes is here with some practical advice on how to make that happen:
During a political race, you can expect your patience, confidence, and resolve to be tested. In many cases, not only are the candidates themselves heavily scrutinized but their families as well. The first step to winning a race is to be absolutely sure you want the elected office in question.
You need a good reason to run (e.g., creating more educational opportunities for children in the community, improving local infrastructure, increasing awareness for individuals with disabilities, etc.). You need to have a deep conviction of your values and principles, along with the drive to use them to benefit others. You should also be prepared for speaking in public, sacrificing family and personal time, and asking friends and strangers for money and other resources.
If you’re not prepared for these conditions, then running for office may not be the best path forward. And there are many other ways to contribute to the betterment of your community.
It’s impossible to ignore the impact of online marketing on political campaigns in this day and age. Even if you’re running for a local seat, you’ll be hard-pressed to win without engaging with your constituents online. The first step in your online marketing will be to create a memorable website that showcases your platform and connects you with potential voters.
As with any high-quality website, your campaign site should be attractive, representative of your values and mission, and easy for users to navigate and use. Your site should be accessible for all people, including those with hearing and visual impairments.
Unless you have ample experience in graphic design, you should consider hiring a professional to enhance your campaign site and ensure full accessibility. Graphic visuals will help your site stand out perhaps more than any other element, and you can easily find qualified, dependable graphic designers through online job platforms like Upwork. Using such platforms will allow you to compare the rates, delivery times, and reviews of various candidates. Typically, graphic design rates run from $15 to $35 an hour.
No political candidate succeeds on their own. If you want any chance of making your campaign accessible to other people with disabilities, winning your seat, and ultimately improving the lives of those in your community, then you need to start building a solid team around you now. Your budget, as well as the size of your campaign, will play a role in the team you put together. But here are some essential team members from which every campaign can benefit:
As mentioned above, online marketing is crucial for a political campaign. And social media is the king of online marketing. If you have a physical disability, then using social media might be even more imperative for your campaign.
Engage on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to deliver your messages and share content. If necessary, be sure to clean up your social media accounts beforehand (including your personal pages).
While you don’t want your disability to be the centerpiece of your campaign, you can use it to promote inclusion for others with disabilities. After all, much of an effective political campaign involves sharing personal stories and experiences, so speaking of how you overcome obstacles and creatively solve problems would only be natural. But you can go further by raising awareness and support for people with other types of disabilities, chronic diseases, and mental illnesses.
If you want to effect change in your community, running for elected office could be an excellent path to doing so. Just make sure it’s the right move for you and your family, and consider the tips listed above as you navigate the challenges of launching and running a campaign. Most importantly, remember the characteristics and qualities that you have developed over time that can improve your prospects of winning and succeeding while in office!
Would you like to read more helpful information or learn about our job platform? Visit wehireheroes.com today!
By Ed Carter, ablefutures.org