I think that most people are too busy trying to make a living to consider running for public office. If they live in a town that seems to be well managed they don’t notice anything wrong that makes them question how well their local government is doing its job.
If the water comes on when they turn the nozzle, the lights come on when they flip a switch, the snow is plowed before it’s too difficult to drive through and the roads are not filled with pot holes then life seems to be just rosy in the town where they live.
Occasionally someone will attend a city council meeting because they hear about a local issue affecting a friend, co-worker or family member. They attend the meeting and get their first taste of local politics. After assessing the meeting they think to themselves that they would have done a much better job if they were a member of the city council or even the mayor. But for the average person these feelings don’t last long and then they return back to their busy life and daily routine.
But every now and then something happens to jolt a citizen into action. They want to fight for a cause or against an injustice and they take on City Hall. The experience gets them a small measure of local fame and then they think that perhaps they could do a better job than the elected official. Then realty sets in and they soon discover that there is no way they could fit one more thing into their busy life so they pull out from the controversy and try to quietly slip back into their anonymous life.
There are others who would make excellent legislators or local city officials but they are not in a position financially to take on the cost of a political campaign. Often, if the candidate is popular enough people will contribute to a campaign helping to offset the costs, but most local campaigns still end up costing the candidate.
So who wins most campaigns? Typically those who win campaigns are those who have the time to devote to public office and enough money to spend and run an expensive campaign. Seldom does the best candidate win an election; instead it is the candidate who can spend the most money. There is a simple reason for this; it’s called “name impressions” through marketing. The more often a candidate gets their name in front of the voter the greater the subconscious impression they make with the voter which results in a greater likelihood of obtaining the vote.
Surely you have known someone who said they voted for the name they knew, or perhaps you have even done the same thing. The average voter does not take the time to learn the issues or discover how the candidates believe or would vote on the issues. Instead, they tend to vote for the name they recognize on the ballot. So, if you are running a campaign the more you can get your name in front of a voter the greater the chances that they will recognize your name on Election Day and vote for you.
This is why you are constantly asked to donate to a campaign either directly through the political party you are associated with or from a candidate who believes you would support them. Money is essential in winning a campaign; qualification or ability unfortunately often comes in a distant second. In the end he or she who has the most money wins!