Business Insider, Forbes, and Fortune have all reported that business women are responding to Hillary Clinton's ill-treatment and loss in the 2016 presidential campaign by becoming politically involved. One interviewee in a similar story in Crain's Chicago Business went so far as to say, "blood was boiling," she and her friends were so infuriated by the lack of respect and misogyny Hillary Clinton experienced, motivating them to become politically active.
No doubt, it's time to gear up for the next campaign. Things for American women are looking pretty horrible right about now. Ohio, anyone? A White House likely filled with men who don't support women's equality, anyone? A Congress that's still mostly male and majority Republican, anyone? I don't think so. Time to convert riled up to get up (and go).
Fortunately, I have a handy how-to guide I can share. It is based on the experience of those of us who have been riled-up and getting up and going for decades. In fact, we're much of the reason Hillary Clinton got as far as she did: we've been giving and raising money for decades for pro-choice, pro-women's equality candidates; asking friends and colleagues to participate in women's campaigns for decades; and constantly and everywhere making the case that political women are just as able and strong as political men and, often (say, like Hillary Clinton), better prepared.
So, here is that how-to guide to getting in − and staying in − the political game, to winning for yourself and the women candidates you support.
Just show up: consider Michelle Obama's wise counsel, stated repeatedly during the 2016 presidential campaign: (even) presidential elections are won precinct by precinct (Hillary Clinton lost Michigan by .2%!). So, just show up and organize yours − every single time there is an election where women's future is at stake, or when a good woman is running, or when a pro-choice, feminist man is on the ballot.
Size matters: build a large and diverse network. And don't get hung up because you might be starting small, i.e., locally. Go ahead and build that local network, recruiting diverse business decision makers who share your views. And, then see just how fast that local network can become big and important. Here are two cases in-point: consider what the local networks of new U.S. senators Kamala Harris and Tammy Duckworth built for them: national leadership and big political futures. Yours can do the same.
Lead with your strength: if you're a great manager, volunteer to manage the campaign of your favorite woman candidate. If you're a great writer, write her campaign speeches and press releases. If you're a great accountant, keep her campaign's books. No matter your profession, there will always be ways to lead politically, by using your professional expertise. You'll be amazed at how fast you'll become valuable, part of the inner circles, and win for yourself, if that's your campaign goal.
Recruit powerful business people to your side, even if they intimidate you: nobody who wants to be − or to remain − somebody goes to bed at night without worrying about how to still be somebody (or further on the way there) the next morning. Consider this proof: the frequency with which business men take the time to raise money for political candidates.They sure don't do it for their health. They do do it to make sure they stay somebody among their peers and keep advancing to ever more exclusive c-suites. So recruit those somebodies you know to your campaigns. You can accomplish this by volunteering to help them. For they can't raise that money alone. Others help. One of those others can be you. And once you're at the side of that somebody and delivered for him (or her), you can ask for help in return. Yes, you'll have to ask, but most people do pay most of their debts.
Don't wait in line: again, consider Kamala Harris and Tammy Duckworth. Had they waited in line for someone to notice them, they never would have gotten to the front of the line. Instead, each sought out a man already at the front of the line and made her case for being there, too. Both said I'm ready to take on the big boys now. Just watch me. I will win for you, too.
Men will accept it when you take charge, so take it (charge, that is): enough men want the same public policies women activists seek that it is worth recruiting them. No worries about asking them to join the campaigns you've organized. In fact, they will appreciate the invitation and be grateful for not having to do all the work! And, in the course of your working with them, you will demonstrate your political savvy and your influence among people and institutions that matter to them. That respect will help you keep recruiting men who matter and getting you where you want to go --even faster.
Please: I beg you. If you're riled-up and ready to go, follow these rules. I promise you that when you do your team will win, that team captained by you for the benefit of all women.
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