One of the places where local party officials get access to a wealth of untapped volunteers comes--ironically--from your local school house. Students who take high school courses in Social Studies, U. S. History, Civics or American History are given the opportunity to earn extra credit by ‘working the polls’ during the primary and general elections.
Don’t be fooled. The ‘dirty little secret (DLS)’ is, while the ‘mainstream mess (MSM)’ cries about the ‘low scores of students’ IN public education, there still seem to be more than enough students who are doing well enough in the classroom to volunteer at the polls. Some of these volunteers are young Black men who have an interest in politics.
I know, because during my trips to the polls to vote, I’ve met a few of them…and have encouraged them to take that ‘next step’ and consider running for elective office in the not-to-distant future. Who knows? One of them might take me up on it, and may be sitting in the Governor’s chair of my state, one day.
IF we want more out of our young men, we need to challenge them to use their minds and encourage them to spend more time in their books--and in class--rather than the basketball court or dance floor. WE need to encourage them to get ready for careers with an impact--like politics.
There are more career choices in life than the NFL and NBA draft, amen?
ONLY THE WISE NEED APPLY:
Politics is not meant for the young man, nor the old man…but for the WISE man. The late D. James Kennedy, pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, told this political story. A woman had asked Pastor Kennedy: “Pastor, should Christians get involved in politics?” Kennedy reportedly responded: “No. Allow the pagans to continue to run this country.”
Thus, there IS room in the political process for the Christian man…a man who is fueled with godly wisdom, and a tough, battle-hardened skin, ready for conflict AND able to see through deception to capture true victory. Part of being on the battlefield is to EXPECT conflict and challenge. Brothers, there are going to be people who are NOT going to be thrilled with you taking a stand for righteousness.
With the Christian, EVERYDAY is “Another Day At The Front”!
I am writing these columns FOR Men of color, without apology. There is more than enough stuff out there to help women of color who desire to enter politics. God has ordained men to lead in the home, church and society. Brothers, for far too long, we have been hoodwinked into believing that there is ‘no room’ for us in the political process.
It’s time for us to quick accepting the ‘whims’ and ‘feelings’ of society directing men to stay on the sidelines and not WORK to be the leaders God has ordained us to become! It’s time to get back into leadership.
Politics CAN use wise leaders AND not high paid followers.
BLAST FROM THE PAST:
The best thing that I can do for you who are reading this series is put myself up on the operating table, and go through my time in politics. This will serve as an up-close-and-personal series of observations.
As I made my first bid for elective office during the mid-nineties , there were few resources available for Black men who had that desire. I had to write my own ‘book’ on politics for myself. Most of the political literature for newcomers was aimed at women. Men who were interested in the political process were not encouraged to apply, nor run for office. I also learned how to surround myself with people whom I could trust!
I was blessed with the fact that I had spent a good portion of my news career covering politics, so I knew how government and the political process TRULY worked. My experiences in politics were good and bad. I won my first political race, lost my second one to the opposing party, and the third one was killed by inter-party squabbles. Still, I enjoyed the opportunity to take part and compete in the political arena.
Those experiences led to my being inspired to pen my first national column: “The Manhood Line”, which ran for ten years in various publications from print to the electronic frontier. My objective with that column was to help to ‘build’ men from a biblical, business and common-sense perspective.
The next part of the equation? Encouraging upright and wise men to be involved in the political process. These columns are not ‘absolutes’ on politics, but merely meant to serve as a guide as to what is out there; what a Man of color who wants to serve in elective office will run into on his way up and what he will experience on his way in the office he is seeking, should he be victorious. Also, how that man should serve to help, teach, and coach other men who will come after him into the vocation of politics.
Let me be honest…it will NOT be easy to overcome the programming put into many young men. They can overcome the programming harmful to their progress and dreams ONLY if they have the desire to do so.
I recall reading an article that I have in my files from the late 90s. The article, which came out of a Midwestern newspaper stated that many young Black men believed that it was ‘acting white’ if a young brother spoke well, carried himself with dignity, and believed in working hard.
In the words of the Sage, Tony Brown: “The ONLY color of freedom IS green!”
In Brown’s view, IF Blacks spent with each other and worked with each other, we would be able to command such economic attention that we could re-shape the negative images that we see of ourselves in the mainstream press. Even among Black publications.
PAYING YOUR DUES:
As I mentioned in our last thrill-packed adventure, one MUST pay their political dues in the trenches BEFORE making it onto the field as a candidate. The late Speaker of the U. S. House, Thomas P. ‘Tip’ O’Neill once stated: “All politics IS local”.
So too is all political service. Also, such service has no expiration date.
Don’t fall for the ‘Okey Doke’ that you should ‘stay’ a political independent. You are going to have to choose sides eventually. That, my friend, is par for the course. You can either go with a political party who has the sole responsibility to keep you broke, or, go with a political party that will not accept excuses and urge economic success.
Yes, you can vote yourself into socialism; that ‘dream’ of economic ‘equity’. However, to escape FROM socialism…you will have to shoot your way out!
There seems to be a lot of the ‘so called’ or ‘alleged’ independents that we see in our society in the present who are merely Democrats in sheep’s clothing. But, I digress.
There are a variety of places a man may serve to gain political experience. One way is to serve working the polls in your precinct. Your political party is ALWAYS on the lookout for volunteers. Many poll workers, I have found, are the REAL power of any political party. These people only work a few days of the year in the primary and general elections, and they train a few days a week on the new laws and technology involved for voting. However, these Democrats and Republicans who keep the polls manned have a friendliness towards each other--for the most part--that is the stuff of legend.
Also, they can make, break, or teach upcoming AND veteran politicians.
Veteran poll workers think of themselves as a family. Their wisdom has inspired many a man or woman to take that next step to candidate level AND has served as a great support launching pad.
Another way to serve is to be attached to the staff of a prominent party leader, also on a volunteer, unpaid basis. In my case, these leaders were the Township Chairmen of our county Republican party. I served as an assistant to one Black GOP Township Chairman for my area. I worked on strategy, helped on candidate recruitment, and voter/media analysis. I also went with him to various party functions and meetings to observe and take notes on potential candidates, and volunteer recruitment.
I quickly worked my way into becoming his right hand man and sounding board.
Regardless of party, it became evident--just like an employer would ask you for a copy of your resume and college/high school transcript if you were apply for a job--IF one had the desire to seek public office, they had to produce proof of party work experience AND people whom they have worked with in the trenches.
Now, there are rare exceptions that a candidate for large office is highly visible, has great financing, and a great staff. However--in the real world--IF they can not win the support of the party faithful (which includes those people who work the polls) their candidacy may be dead in the water, no matter how much they bring to the table.
You have to pay your dues IN the trenches, and people are ALWAYS on the lookout for your political resume.
THE ‘RED EYE’ SESSIONS:
There were days--during primary and general election season--I would get off my third shift job, come by my Chairman’s house for coffee, and would spend a few hours talking politics. Issues, candidates, rule changes, and the political landscape.
I called these sessions the ‘Red Eye’ sessions. It was worth it to miss a little sleep, because the lessons I learned, and insight I gained were priceless.
I know that there are some Black conservatives who like to ‘whine’ about the lack of Black candidates, and want to blame their party for recruiting problems. However, tomorrow’s candidates--regardless of color--are yesterday’s party volunteers, be it through fundraising, envelope licking, social media posting, poll working or campaign running. You have to SERVE before you get the nod to run. Further, IF you are a prominent Black man who is a top member of either political party and are NOT training your successor(s), nor encouraging others to become a part of your party, it is NOT the fault of the party.
Look in the mirror to properly place the blame.
Let me also add this housekeeping note. IF you have prior service, you need to keep your OWN records, should you decide to run for another office ‘down the line’. Remember: political organizations are just like any other entity. People move on, die, or leave service and a new group of people take the helm. You just might have to ‘remind’ them of your prior service, and those whom were your prior mentors and supporters.
In my case, because of my service, it wasn’t that long before my Chairman sent the recommendation downtown to GOP headquarters that I was to stand in the next primary for election as a Precinct Committeeman. More to come, next month!
Mike Ramey is a Minister, Modern Street Gangs Specialist, Political Consultant and Syndicated Columnist who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. “Ramey‘s Guide To Elective Office For Men” is one of a variety of columns that Ramey has in cyberspace. His address is still the same: firstname.lastname@example.org. ©2019 Barnstorm Communications. (2)