Lessons I Learned in Politics: Victory in Defeat

By Nick Hensley

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victory

I have reaped the spoils of victory, and got lost in the depression of defeat. I have seen great campaigns turn to dust, and I have seen poor campaigners make the victory speech. I have seen cash strapped challengers come from behind, and money laden incumbents fall.

I came up in politics, and I have seen it all.

Veteran politicos like me share stories of long forgotten campaigns we had a part in. These stories are usually exchanged during late night hours over dinner or a drink, but I have decided to share some of these, and pass my knowledge on.

During the 2012 election I was entrenched with Reform Party of the United States. It was a poor year as we had no money in the bank, a late convention, ballot access in a single state, and a communications committee that was not functioning. We had lost the election weeks before the polls had even opened. Even with ballot access in Florida and write in status in several other states, we could not get votes from enough states to win. It was a lesson in humility.

At the time I had experience, but I spent a lot of time putting myself down. For a while, I thought it foolish to even think about the president election. We had already lost. I got openly agitated with those that thought working on it would be fruitful, and thought we should focus more on building the organization.

I mouthed off about my feelings. I greenhorned like no greenhorn had ever greenhorned about the giant waste of time. That’s when Leon stepped in and shared a little knowledge with me.

Leon said, “Campaigns are nothing but a series of battles. Some you will win and some you will lose. Some of those wins you can capitalize off of in other campaigns”.

It was knowledge that I took to heart. I decided to put a fight. I volunteered to take the position of chair for the Reform Party’s Communications Committee. It is a position I presently hold.

The group was dysfunctional and had only met once in a year. My first task was to get it active. After exchanging emails and some calls, I got several members interested and got it functional. This group didn’t win the election, but afterward this group built a lot of infrastructure and put in countless hours doing work.

I was able to pull it together for a last second flurry of activity. I devised a press release distribution system and released the first press release from the Reform Party in over five years. We then released a newsletter. These are things the Reform Party still does, because it releases one to two press releases a month and distributes a monthly newsletter.

I started to use the party’s blog on Tumblr to share information about candidates. After the campaign this Tumblr idea morphed into a blog full of original content on the Reform Party’s website, which helps it drive traffic to the website and share its message.

I started contacting people, trying to find support for Andre Barnett, the Reform Party candidate, and these contacts became useful at later dates, and have helped me raise money, have content published on news blogs, find resources and gain exposure for candidates.

Leon was right. In one defeat, I found countless victories.

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