Perhaps a number of young people see student government as a stepping-stone to a grand future in actual federal government. As they struggle to implement healthier food options in the school cafeteria, they might dream of some day debating complex foreign policy in an effort to appease whichever country is annoyed with us at the time. In the rather excellent 1999 film Election, Reese Witherspoon plays an irritatingly overachieving student by the name of Tracy Flick whose attempts to win the position of student president are hampered by a teacher who has simply had enough of her. The teacher convinces the rather dim witted (yet popular) Paul Metzler to run against Tracy, much to her disgust. One evening culminates in such frustration for Tracy that she loses controls and rips Paul’s election banners from the walls in a fit of anger. Perhaps if Paul didn’t simply have flimsy paper banners (“Paul Metzler: You bet-cha!”) Tracy wouldn’t have been able to so easily tear them from the walls. While the rampant narcissism and manipulation of the movie don’t really feature in standard student politics, a term on the student council is a fantastic experience for young people to learn about the political process. Although before they can experience this, they need to actually get win office, which is why preparation for the election is so important. So what are some of the best ways for a budding student politician to advertise him or herself and win that election?
Follow Your Heroes
By this, we mean it’s a great idea to watch and learn from your political heroes, how they were shaped by their ideologies and used them to win office. It’s best to stick to contemporary and recent politician, and not the “politics” of Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan.
Get Your Face Out There!
People need to know you’re running for office, so it’s a great idea to become involved in a variety of school events. Student politics doesn’t quite allow for all the media opportunities of federal politics, so there won’t exactly be any mass rallies or baby kissing photo ops, but a presence at a number of school events, whether they’re sporting events or social clubs, gives you the chance to meet and greet your fellow students, and actually discuss school based issues that concern them.
Barack Obama reportedly had more than $1 billion at his disposal when he won his second term in office, and even though your budget probably won’t stretch that far, you certainly need to invest in some advertising. While you can stay up late artfully painting snappy slogans onto a paper banner, you can also invest in a professionally made banner, which is far more durable and gives your campaign a look of efficiency and authority that your opponents might lack. A snappy slogan can help people remember you, as can a well-designed logo. It’s all about branding yourself as a candidate.
Make It Sound Good
A good politician is usually a consummate speaker, and if you find the idea of standing in front a group of people and making a speech utterly terrifying, then student council perhaps isn’t right for you. You’ll need to make a speech or two during the campaign itself, and no doubt a few more after you actually win office. Rehearse all speeches as much as possible, although being able to make a few witty impromptu remarks is also a helpful skill. Remember to refer to slogans from your advertising, coupled with actual useful remarks about your policies and direction.