How the Ordeals of Running for Congress Affect the Results of Congress

Running a campaign for Congress can require resources that are typically out of reach of most average Americans. As a result, the pool of people that can realistically even consider mounting a campaign to run for Congress is naturally small.

Lucy in Disguise!
Lucy in Disguise!

In order to mount a congressional campaign, potential candidates must be prepared to devote their lives to campaigning on a full-time basis. This period of campaigning can last from one to two years. Campaigning can require leaving your livelihood for an extended period of time, something most people simply are not able to do. Running for Congress requires a significant amount of sacrifice.

Throughout the campaign period, candidates must spend a tremendous amount of time traveling to various political events. The rigors faced on the trail can include unpalatable food, little time to rest and continual separation from family. There are inevitably emotional ups and downs that do not make campaigning any easier.

As if that were not enough, candidates need to spend a significant portion of their time raising money. Not only must the candidate raise large amounts of money, but due to campaign contribution limits, he or she must also raise money from many different people. This naturally requires time as well as money, persuasive skills and an extensive network of friends and associates.

In order to establish credibility, candidates must begin raising money relatively early within the campaign. If a candidate is wealthy, there is always the option of funding one’s own campaign either in part or in whole, but this can result in a significant personal financial burden.

When candidates are not raising money, they must also spend time mastering the skills necessary to succeed, which may be skills they previously did not possess. He or she must become familiar with their district and the concern of the voters in that district.
A Better Congress: Change the Rules, Change the Results: A Modest Proposal - Citizen's Guide to Legislative Reform
The personal life of a candidate is also open to intense scrutiny from the press. Candidates can be assured that if they have any skeletons in their closet, they will be revealed at some point during the campaign. Any disgruntled former love interests or employees will invariably make an appearance. Business dealings that may have had even a hint of being less than above aboard will come to light.

The ordeals faced throughout a campaign most certainly affect who ultimately decides to run for office. While there may be numerous people who would like to serve in Congress, once those ordeals are taken into consideration, many people determine it is not worth the cost. As a result, the choices of voters and the quality of results are often directly influenced by the ordeals faced on the campaign trail.

Reference: A Better Congress, by Joseph Gibson, Chapter 2 The Ordeals of a Campaign



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