About the Author
Opinion Archives
E-mail Scott
Scott's Links

"Why do you want to be..."

By Scott Tibbs, September 26, 2018

It got me thinking when Ben Shapiro said that Elizabeth Warren could do a better job than Hillary Clinton answering the question "why do you want to be President?" Clinton's answer was "because I deserve it!" Warren would be able to provide a policy justification for why she is running. Basically, if you are going to run for office, you need to tell the voters why you should be elected to that position and what you plan to do. If you are running just to run, then you are doing a disservice to the voters.

So if you want to be elected to office, what do you want to do? It should be easy for voters to identify a specific policy goal. Donald Trump wants to "build the wall." Barack Obama wanted to mutilate... I mean "reform" the American health care system. Todd Young wanted to be a voice for veterans. Mitch Daniels wanted to reform and streamline state government, and Mike Pence wanted to continue that work. My state representative wants the state to restrain oppressive local government regulations. Larry Barker wants take on conflicts of interest and make county government more business friendly. In my own race, I want township government to go beyond the legal requirements for transparency and put as much online as possible.

So what is your goal? Do you want political power, fame, or influence with certain groups? Are you running because you want to set yourself up to run for a higher office in the future? Are you running to expand your name ID with voters? If those are your only reasons for running, then you should not run. Try to find someone else to fill that spot, and help him or her get elected instead.

Does that mean that you will not have personal ambition in running for office? Of course not. If you are looking for non-political employment, that is a personal ambition. But you also want to do a good job and get the work done once you are in your position. The same thing is true in politics. All candidates for office are motivated by personal ambition. That should not, however, be a candidate's only reason for running for office. The more powerful the office the more important it is to have a clear policy agenda.

What you should do is identify something that you think is being done poorly or could be done better. There might be a number of issues where you think different policy would be better. Identify that issue before you file to run for office, and then pick the office that is relevant to that issue. Once you have your issue or set of issues, build your messaging around that. But your run for office should be motivated by a policy agenda, never only by personal ambition.