The primary difference between working for a political office and any other office is that your work is subject to public opinion, because of the nature of the office you work in. That makes the manner and method by which you execute your tasks important. A good rule of thumb is: if it would be unpleasant to read about your work in the newspaper the next day, then don’t do it.
The political staff should not be heard, nor seen nor draw attention to himself. The political staff should be willing to disappear and be on the sideline. They must deflect all attention to the principal, away from themselves. They must go unremarked and easily blend into the crowd. They must not be a source of pain, but only of pleasure and convenience. Thus, the political staff must avoid being involved in any conflict, controversy, or even the conversation.
The political staff must see themselves as extension of their principal, but never in terms of the power, privilege, and prestige of the political office. The latter is the province of the principal. They must be careful not to project that they are the decision-makers or possess any sort of influence. The political staff must not make any definite commitment on behalf of the principal, but perhaps only to the extent that any matter will be brought to the principal’s attention.
Considering that a political staff, especially one so closely identified with the principal, is a reflection on the principal, he/she must be prudent in his/her actions and behavior. Their interaction with the public must be pleasant and cordial. They must not use the political office with which they are affiliated for their personal advantage —- or at least not be caught doing so. He/she must also learn when to use it discreetly. It will be very embarrassing to use your association with a political office for mundane things, such as getting ahead of the line at a cashier. Such maneuvering is only well-received when used for the advantage of the public or a cause that is sympathetic and not oppressive.
Why do political staff accompany the principal? When in public, the political staff must make sure that principal is not lonesome. The staff is the default provider of companionship. There is somewhat a negative perception of a politician being seen all alone in public. It is perceived as a weakness or perhaps it had become a public expectation for politicians to always come with an entourage, which is reasonable considering that politicians make a trade out of their popularity. Hence, the staff must make sure that there is a crowd to receive the politician, through coordination and mobilization.
It is the function of the political staff to be the bearer of bad news, such as inability of the political office to give aid to a solicitor. Hence, the political staff must master the art of tactfully and politely declining. He/She must develop the emotional quotient in relaying negative information in such a way that the recipient will not have a negative feeling towards the principal. The political staff must make sure that everyone who exits their office or walks away from the interaction with the principal has a smile of their face.
The primary work of the political staff is to make the principal look good or be perceived well. Their work must contribute to the goal of the political office, which is often, although not necessary, to get the principal re-elected. This is the ultimate metric against which the political staff should be measured. Thus, under this metric, the political staff can be gauged as an asset or a liability to the political office. #
HOW TO BE A POLITICAL STAFF: Part 2. On the Day of the Event
HOW TO BE A POLITICAL STAFF: Part 3. Declining or Accepting an Invitation
Atty. Lawrence Villamar worked for a Senator and a Congressman. Presently, he is a consultant to a Board Member and Vice-Governor.