Why You Should Run
Updated: Jan 18
Nova Scotians are very active in community building and volunteerism. It is time for you to step in and be part of that change.
We’re meeting a lot of people lately who want to join our movement. The COVID-19 pandemic has given many a new perspective, and new priorities of how they want to spend their time and energy.
Sometimes they tell us they have considered running for office, but something holds them back, a feeling that they don’t meet the criteria of a good Green MLA. Maybe they lack education. Perhaps they think that they don’t know enough about sustainable policy “What exactly is ‘extended producer responsibility’ anyway?” they wonder.
Maybe they don’t speak as well as they want to and worry about fumbling a debate in front of a crowd. Perhaps they wonder if they are “Green enough” because they drive a regular car that burns gasoline, and sometimes their beverage on-the-go comes in a plastic cup heading for the landfill. After reading another cynical news editorial about politics, they wonder if they can generate enough money for a decent campaign.
Setting the bar for politicians
There exists a latency, a self-doubt in many potentially excellent candidates that are new to political life. This sense of unworthiness is a healthy sign indicating an empathic, cerebral person who has the humility to know that they probably lack some skills and knowledge needed to be a member of provincial parliament.
The very reason so many people have given up on politics, why Nova Scotia has such a low amount of voter participation, is because the above-mentioned type of thoughtful person hesitates to run, while most politicians end up being alpha-types, extroverted, confident and sometimes bullying personalities.
“Strong headed characteristics are useful in a public contest like an election where charisma and ambition are overweighted.”
This is why most of our elected officials come from the sales, the marketing side of business, and law, careers where closing a deal or defeating an adversary are the measure of success. It is also why the image of politicians is so poor, and often seen as morally ambiguous. The truth is that the very qualities that make lawyers and salespeople good at their jobs are the opposite of what’s needed in good government, where consensus and compromise are the keys to success.
The reality of politics is that education and professional background are not as important as having a willingness to listen to your community and pay attention to current events. Strong candidates connect with people through the power of their story and authenticity, not through the name on their diploma or prestige of their employer. Greens have run under our party banner at all education levels, from having not finished high school, to having a PhD and published university textbooks. Nova Scotians will judge you by your quality as a person if you give them a chance to meet you.
The Green Party of Nova Scotia is dedicated to the idea of an inclusive democracy, and that means getting people elected that reflect the makeup of the real Nova Scotia. So while we have no issue with the law profession or salespersons, we can all agree that provincial government has enough lawyers and business people in it already.
Some of our most effective public figures have come from the arts, education, and trades. Great leaders in business and culture are often technical, curious and analytical, so these qualities should serve would-be political candidates well. The point is, don’t start by listing why you can’t serve as a politician, but by listing what you bring to the table.
Running is about beliefs
Between the experienced campaigners in our party, the resources we will provide, your winning personality, your upbeat attitude, and your keen interest in a sustainable future. People vote for people they like, often at the expense of their interests or traditional party alliances. Your “why” and the authenticity of your explanation will do the heavy lifting.
Above all, please remind yourself that you have what you need: a fundamental belief in our community and a better way of managing it. You have what we need. You have what the future of Nova Scotia needs.
About the author
Jessica Alexander is the deputy leader of the Green Party of Nova Scotia, a provincial candidate many times over, a surfer, and a professional at getting things done.