Stepping Into a Political Role When You Have a Disability
Political Role Disability

While the number of people with disabilities in politics is egregiously low, there are signs that the world is becoming increasingly accepting to the idea. There are many politicians with disabilities that run the gamut from lieutenant governor to school board member. If you think you are ready to step into their proverbial shoes, keep reading for a few questions you should ask yourself before you make the leap.

What Are My Reasons?

If you simply desire to become a public figure, it’s time to reevaluate. Becoming a politician or public official is typically preceded by a desire for change. Figure out your passion, and look for ways that your unique experiences can help spread your message. You might, for example, become an advocate for law enforcement training in regards to people with autism. Think about what message is important to you, and start building your platform.

Am I Ready To Devote Myself To This Role?

Being in office is not just a job. Unlike simply pounding a keyboard in a cubicle for 40 hours per week, you must play the part 100% of the time. In other words, you can’t advocate for one thing and practice the opposite behind closed doors. Like devoting yourself to personal growth, you will have to make an intentional and mindful commitment to fulfilling your duties.

Who Will Help Me Along The Way?

First and foremost, you’ll want to look to your family and friends for support. After all, it is not only you that will be affected by your choice. But you also need help from the community and from others with skills, abilities, and experiences that can help you along the way. This typically means engaging several people in specific roles related to your campaign.

A campaign manager, as explains, can help you develop a comprehensive plan. Some other team members might include a press secretary, campaign treasurer, media strategist and volunteer coordinator. You might also consider a virtual assistant, graphic artist, or content writer, which can help you organize, relay visual messages, and speak eloquently to topics near and dear to your constituents’ hearts, respectively. 

You can use hiring sites like Upwork to connect with the professionals who will help you launch a successful campaign. Aim for adding those who share your passion, have appropriate credentials, and with whom you feel you communicate well.

Am I Really Qualified?

If you’re getting into politics late in life, there’s a good chance you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in political sciences. While this is certainly important, it’s not everything you need to truly be qualified to lead a local, state, or federal level. 

PoliticalScienceCareers explains that one of the very first things you should do is get out within your own community. You’ll also want to be familiar with the requirements for the role, which vary depending on where you live. If you never ran for office before and need help, contact your local Chamber of Commerce or preferred party and ask about available resources.

Do I Fully Understand What It Means To Be a Public Figure?

Becoming a public figure means you are in the public’s eye. Because of this, you enjoy very little privacy and, as a politician, you are expected to be transparent in both your personal and private lives. There are benefits, however, with one of these being that you can use your status and position to benefit your community and those with whom you share values and goals. 

Understand that your children, spouse, business associates, and close friends may also be exposed to scrutiny; this is something that can’t be helped, and it is an aspect of the lifestyle that must be accepted before your first campaign.

As a person with disabilities, you have a unique perspective and can make the world a better place because of it. Ask yourself these questions and be truly reflective about the answers before you get started. Failure to do so may leave you less enthusiastic about the job, which defeats the purpose of running for public office in the first place.

This is a guest blog post submitted and written by Ed Carter.

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July 13, 2020

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