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Political Campaigning

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Every year, the campaign signs are plastered throughout the school hallways. High school elections allow students to choose representatives to speak for them during the year. Candidates choose which position they would like to fill. They gather friends together to work with and for them, as they try their best to win.

That pulling together, that team spirit, is called campaigning. Political candidates at every level call on their friends and other supporters to help them win the race. The goal? A seat, and a say, in the governmental process.

Jonathon Palmer was the vice-president for student and youth with the Young Democrats of America. He grew up watching John F. Kennedy. "I felt the tremendous energy he brought to everything. I knew I wanted to do something when I grew up that would make a difference."

During a political campaign, many people volunteer their energies to a cause or a person they believe in. Palmer volunteered his time in the hope that he would be helping to make a difference.

Campaign volunteers use their skills and abilities to do any of the many jobs that make a campaign successful. They will answer telephones or faxes, type documents, help to set up equipment where the candidate is scheduled to speak, distribute flyers, handbills and posters throughout the community and anything else that they can do to help.

Volunteers under the guidance of the campaign coordinator do almost all of the work that is done in a political campaign.

The number of campaigners varies greatly with each candidate and each campaign. For example, during a high school election, a candidate may have only four or five friends helping, while another may have more than a dozen. A candidate for a federal election will have hundreds of volunteers, party members and supporters helping at each step along the way.

Jennifer Hueneault was a member of the Ontario Young Liberals. She volunteered her services during the last Ontario election. "I believe in what the Liberal party could offer the people of Ontario," she says.

She chose to put her belief into practice. She has volunteered to stuff envelopes and put up posters. "I have done whatever they wanted me to do. Every job is important, whether you answer the phones or knock on doors for your candidate."

The belief in the party platform (the strategies and promises the party members agree to) is what draws volunteers into supporting their local candidate. They want to make a difference and are willing to work to achieve that goal.

Joseph Marini is a member of the Broward County Young Republicans. "I volunteer because if we just complained about what is wrong, we would also be quitting on our country and what it stands for," he says.

"Activism is making an attempt at making a difference," says Jack Hicks of the Young Socialists International. "It can be a major growth experience."

Violet Nikolici, was a national assistant secretary for the Young Republicans, and volunteered to make a difference. "I worked in any capacity to help my party," she says. "If something I do can make a difference, then it is worth it."

How to Get Involved

When you watch the big hoopla of a political campaign on television, it looks intimidating. But really, it isn't. Listen to the candidates and decide who you like. Figure out why you believe what they say.

Once you have decided, call the local party office and find out where the candidate's campaign headquarters is located. It is easy to spot -- it is the building with the placards plastered on the windows. Ask to speak to the campaign coordinator or the person in charge. Tell them you would like to be part of the team.

When the campaign is over, you can continue to be involved by joining the youth branch of the party. Every political party has one. The youth branches offer opportunities for people under 40 to contribute to the goals of their party. Many of the activities are hands-on, community-based projects that allow the members to see how they can make a difference while meeting others with similar interests and goals.

The best thing about participating in a political campaign is that you can contribute the skills you already have. The other members of the campaign team will encourage you to try new things. They will support you as you learn new skills.

Doing something you believe in is the best reason to participate in a campaign.

"If there was someone I truly believed in," says Palmer, "if it was something I was really passionate about, I would do it again."


Young Democrats of America
The home page of the Young Democratic Party, with links to local chapters

Young Republicans National Federation
Find news, state clubs and information about how to join

Political Communications Archive
Research decades of political articles, campaign ads and more

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OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.