Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Campaign Strategy, Version 1

With politics dominating the news and social media feeds, I can't help but think about my own upcoming campaign for the presidency.

It's never too early to start planning, but it's currently too early to actually launch the campaign. So instead I'll just give a rough outline of my current strategy.

There are several hurdles between myself and the presidency:
  1. People have no idea who I am.
  2. I have no political experience outside of academia.
  3. I have no party affiliation.
  4. I'm very young, becoming eligible for the presidency barely a month before the 2020 inauguration.
If there's anything the 2016 presidential race has taught me so far, points 2 and 3 don't actually matter as much as they used to. I was planning to run anyway, but it's good to know that these won't be as big of a hurdle as I thought they'd be. Definitely hurdles, of course (I'm not a reality TV star), but less than they would have been ten years ago.

The fourth point is a hurdle I'll need to jump later, if I can ever overcome the first hurdle. At that point, it will be entirely on me to convince the people that a 35-year-old is mature enough to run the country. It helps that apparently the founding fathers thought so, since that's the minimum age listed in the Constitution. Still, it will be up to me to demonstrate a maturity that is equal to or, better, surpasses that of the other candidates.

Given all that, most of my focus will be on introducing myself to the public. Luckily, the Internet makes doing so easier than it's ever been. However, that merely turns my chances of becoming known from "impossible" to "extremely unlikely." Introducing myself to the public will take a lot of time and effort; quite possibly more than I'll be able to put into it.

That said, I intend to begin this process shortly after the midterm elections in 2018, possibly at late as January 2019. Usually, announcing your candidacy for president that far in advance of the election doesn't turn out well, but I'll have a lot of catching up to do. I'd announce even earlier if I could, but I don't want to risk distracting from the midterm elections and, frankly, nobody cares about the presidential election before the midterms anyway.

Since I'm going into this with basically a $0 budget, I'll need to simply make a video of myself announcing my candidacy on YouTube and ask people to share the video.

The announcement speech will need to cover several complex topics: who I am, why I'm running for president, and why people should vote for me. Each of these questions could be individual speeches on their own, but this isn't the kind of information you withhold from a speech like this. If I can't hook people at all from the first video, I'll have already lost.

That said, the first video is unlikely to get much traction on its own. Even if all of my friends and family share the video, an announcement on its own will be a curiosity at best, soon forgotten. Which is why the announcement will be the first of many videos, and the announcement video will remain available if and when people see a later video and want to know who the heck I am.

Every week after the announcement I'll release a new address--a new video expressing my views on a topic. I'll start with the platforms I already have strong feelings about which, hopefully, will cover me until I start getting questions and feedback from viewers. With luck, at some point the viewers will start asking my views on things most important to them, at which point they will begin to guide the conversation.

I don't expect my videos to be outrageous or sensationalist. I intend to keep them honest, candid, and civil. It's quite possible that a strategy like that will fail to attract attention, but that's okay with me. If I can't win without becoming a cartoon character, then I don't think it's worth winning int he first place.

However, I'm banking on the idea that perhaps, after years of bickering, stonewalling, and the other calling cards of party politics, perhaps people will be ready for something completely different.

My first milestone will be getting my story picked up by the media. This will likely require a lot of grassroots effort on the part of friends and family, and hopefully the videos will start spreading naturally after that. If my campaign ever catches the eye of the media, it will be legitimized somewhat in the eyes of the public.

After that, I'll have to make it clear that I'm a serious candidate, and not just another Vermin Supreme or Ralph Nader. Unlike many people, I have a lot of respect for the media, and I'm hoping that respect will be reciprocated, more or less. However, if somehow I'm taken seriously, it will be the media's job to put me through the ringer, and I intend to cooperate.

I think getting media attention is possible, even likely with a strong enough message and perseverance. My dream, though, is to be able to participate in a presidential debate. Nothing will legitimize my candidacy for president as much as standing on stage with the other candidates. If, at that point, I can demonstrate myself as a viable alternative to the animosity and vitriol that has built between the two establishment parties, I'll have my best shot at the oval office.

At the moment, though, that's pie-in-the-sky talk. I have a lot to do between now and then, and the real work won't even begin for another three years. In the meantime, I'll keep honing my ideas, paying attention to the issues facing the country, and contributing to the economy in my own little way.

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