Lee Storrow’s presentation in class was a good perspective on local campaigns and what the process is like to be successful. I was really impressed and moved by the commitment that he has to public service at such a young age. It made me think about the dedication that people have to their communities to be willing to put in that effort and invest so much time and money with the purpose of trying to direct their towns in the way that they think is best. Hearing his presentation makes me want to believe that politics can be based more on the desire to do good rather than put on a show, and his perspective on local governance was really interesting in that way.
He talked to an extent about “tapping into something personal and genuine” that really resonated with me in the context of this class. With all of our discussions about the outrage industry, I think that it’s interesting that this seems to only be applicable on a larger political stage where perhaps the ability to garner media attention is more difficult. The authenticity behind sending out post cards to potential voters made it a real and personal connection, but at the same time, the planned nature of this authenticity made me think about it a little more critically. In the way that he discussed engaging with the media, announcing his bid for reelection, deciding whether or not to take out an ad in the Chapel Hill News, Lee is setting up that aura of authenticity in a scientific way. Does the strategy of politics deplete any of the truth in an authentic promotion?
For Lee I don’t think that it does. He presents himself as he is, taking on no other pretense, and the use of that to gain votes is not a flaw or a deceitful act. Successful authenticity doesn’t detract from that or add to it, but just shows the candidate as he or she is. I think that Lee’s best example of that was in his discussion about how he was to tell voters that he is an openly gay man. It’s a part of who he is, and a level of authenticity that has to surround that decision. Disclosing it to the voter by waiting for an opening where it was appropriate was a way that made it a part of the discussion without making it the discussion. The decisions that they made were to keep Lee as a genuine candidate and to tap into who he is in relation to the people whose votes he is asking for. Going back to Didion’s piece, once the journalist and the voter accepts that what they are getting from the candidates is going to have a degree of staginess associated with it, the authenticity that is the root of the person has the chance to shine through. I think that Lee made it work for him in the election the first time around, and he knows enough about the process to make a bid for reelection.
Lee’s presentation gave me a perspective of local politics and governance that I wasn’t privy to before, and I really think that our class benefitted from hearing about it from someone so passionate. I liked his enthusiasm, and it was a good way for us to engage with the theories we’re learning in a practical way.