FFL’s mission is to support women who believe in the traditional American values of independence, hard work, and personal responsibility. While FFL is the leading social movement for young conservative women, our organization’s mission transcends through the walls of our online presence. This mission is put into action every day as the twenty-eight Republican women who serve in the United States Congress. Countless other women around our country put their high heels on the ground in political and private sector work.
Over the last ten months, I have spent every moment I could putting my own high heels on the ground. I have campaigned with the ultimate version of Hillary’s worst nightmare, Dr. Kelli Ward. Because of her fierce patriotic nature, her strong conservative beliefs, and her ability to be a leader for a new generation of conservative women, Dr. Kelli Ward is undeniably a female leader. Her ability to serve as a role model to multitudes of young women across the country gives her a unique opportunity to impress upon them the fundamental lessons that young politicos need to learn. As an in-state intern for Kelli’s Senate campaign, I was able able to learn these lessons first hand.
1) Pick your battles
Kelli taught me the important lesson that not every comment needs to be validated with a response. There will always be naysayers. When you are really passionate about your candidate, you will want to combat every negative or untruthful comment. Campaigning with Kelli taught me that sometimes the greatest tool you have is the ability to pick your battles.
2) How to be graceful under fire
Millions of dollars were spent attacking Kelli, her record, and her character. This was to be expected, seeing as the goal of our campaign was to take down a five-term senator. Kelli combated the attacks head on. She spoke the truth and comparing the voting record of herself and Senator McCain. By approaching the attacks in such a manner, she spoke to constituents as intelligent people who deserved the truth. No matter the level of political engagement, attacks are common. It is how you respond to those attacks that will determine the reputation you truly earn. Being graceful under fire is how to come out of campaign season with your dignity intact.
3) It’s all about personality
I was once told that “being ‘right’ is not sufficient enough to win” and I believe in the message of this statement. Holding conservative values is not enough in politics anymore. More voters are beginning to look at the entire facade of their elected officials. If you’ve ever met Kelli, you know of her warmth and her genuine nature. Kelli offered a smile to every stranger, shook their hands and gave her ear to the concerns of Republicans and Democrats alike. This was not a political tactic, rather it was rather a reflection of Kelli Ward as a human. Politics is often a stressful and heated professional field. Kelli’s actions on the campaign trail reminded me that you should never allow for politics to destroy your genuine personality. It certainly shouldn’t cause you to lose your humanity.
4) Show people you care
If you haven’t already heard it by now, it’s common that political volunteers and interns often do the “grunt work” within campaigns. They go door to door, make phone calls, and put up countless yard and street signs. Often times, candidates overlook and under appreciate these volunteers and interns. It is usually a big deal when the interns and volunteers, who spend countless of hours working on behalf of a candidate, finally get to meet the candidate. However, this typical campaign situation couldn’t be further from the state of affairs on Kelli’s campaign. The first time I ever volunteered for Kelli, she entered the room and was swarmed by people waiting to converse with her. Instead of indulging in these political conversations right away, she moved towards me, hugged me and thanked me for volunteering my time. As an intern, I received handwritten thank you notes, an open line of communication, and more selfies than I could imagine. Kelli also made phone calls, knocked on doors, and put up signs. A lot of candidates claim to be “of, by, and for the people” but they often forget what it is to be of the people. Kelli made sure that her staff, volunteers, interns, and voters know that she was truly of the people by showing them she cared.
I could go on with anecdotes Kelli taught me to be a more intelligent, compassionate, motivated young politico. Instead I’ll leave you with those four invaluable lessons. In conclusion, here is the biggest advice I can give: If you ever have the opportunity to learn from or campaign with a strong female leader, take that opportunity, seize it, and soak in everything you can. The last ten months on the campaign trail with Dr. Kelli Ward have been exciting and educational to say the least. Everyone deserves an experience like it.
*The endorsements and views expressed in this column are the author’s own. They do not necessarily reflect the view of the FFL organization.*