by Del. Sam Rasoul
It is awesome having a solid slate of candidates for the House of Delegates (HOD) going into November. While the reasons for this spark of excitement are many this election, Democrats believe a progressive agenda is beneficial to the vast majority of Americans and we are ready to fight for it. A piece of advice for HOD candidates this election season: Be You.
That is not some individualistic liberal platitude; there is science behind it. Finding your true voice as a candidate can be a struggle. Party and special interest activists are pulling at you from one end, while the demographics of your district may lead you to want to strike a more “moderate” tone. You can find comfort in the fact that there is a better strategy in being yourself and following your intuition.
Throughout evolution, our brain fostered our survival by first focusing on the “gut instinct” a person has, before any rational information is processed. This fight or flight response mechanism helps us to quickly determine if we should trust a person or situation.
Before a voter has had an opportunity to consider all of the facts surrounding your platform, she or he is making a decision whether to trust or not. The one thing that brings up warning flags in a voter’s brain faster than anything else is a candidate trying to be something she or he is not. There are several ways the “gut” is put on notice that you are not being sincere, so best to be yourself.
With a two party system, the Democratic party needs to be large enough to accept people across the progressive spectrum. Voters are not upset because the Democratic Party is too liberal or too centrist; rather the Party has not always been sincere in being something it claims to be. This hurts trust in our brand.
Take into careful consideration all of the polling data and guidance from the consultants and politicos, but remember there are reasons why Democrats have lost over 1,000 state legislative seats in recent years. Voters need to trust before being convinced of any policy. In the end, people vote with their “gut.” Don’t fight evolution. BE YOU!