Should You Hide Who You Are? | National Democratic Training Committee


Many people have a certain idea about who elected officials are and what they look like. However, the power of authenticity is incredibly important for any political candidate

When people think of politicians they typically only think of the people we see on the news and tv. Unfortunately, these people don’t always reflect the diversity of our country and often seem to lack authenticity.

As of the 2018 elections Congress is 76% male, 77% white, and 82% Christian. So, despite the incredible number of female and minority candidates elected this past year, many people still don’t see people like themselves in elected positions.

This lack of representation has a huge impact. People who don’t fit into the typical “politician mold”  feel as though they either can’t run for office. Or they must change themselves in order to be successful.

What many people don’t know is that it is a candidate’s differences and authenticity actually make them a strong candidate and representative!

Valuing Your Authenticity

power of authenticity

One of our country’s biggest strengths is the fact that we are so diverse. Our differences, and how we value those differences, make our country a better place. So it’s important that politicians properly represent this diversity. Unfortunately, that’s impossible if all our elected officials change themselves to fit a certain mold. Or even worse, people who don’t fit the mold decide not to run at all!

So instead of changing yourself to fit into someone else’s idea of who and what a politician “should be” it’s much more important to assign value to your authenticity.

As a candidate, your authenticity is incredibly important to building connections and a strong support system. Voters want to know who you are and what you believe and the best way to do that is to be true to yourself and not hide parts of yourself you think people may not like.

Chances are there are plenty of people out there who share a similar background or opinion!

The Power of Personal Connection

The power of authenticity is essential when you build personal connections with voters.

Having a personal connection with a voter can be a very effective strategy for getting someone out to vote and persuading them to vote for you. However, forging these connections is only possible if you’re authentic and provide opportunities for your supporters to identify with you.

This can take the form of sharing your story. Personal narratives about the challenges you have faced or why you hold certain views are opportunities to illustrate your authenticity and connect with voters.

People are more inclined to support a candidate who they feel connected to. So, being truthful about who you are provides more opportunity for people to identify with you and support you!

However, if you change who you are in order to appeal to everyone you lose your authenticity and the possibility to really connect with people and make a real impact.

Emphasizing, rather than changing or hiding the parts of your identity that are different allows your supporters to see themselves in you and feel confident that the person they’re supporting is the best candidate for the job!

(Learning how and when to forge these connections takes some practice. Check out our course Using Personal Stories to Connect in order to get a better idea about this important skill!)

Your Biggest Strength

It’s clear from the 2018 elections that there is a growing number of people who want to see themselves reflected in government. People want representatives who share their opinions and reflect the diversity of our country.

This is why record numbers of women and minorities were elected. It’s also why, as a candidate, changing who you are is a huge mistake. Your differences, and even more importantly the pride you have in your differences, allow you to forge connections with voters and be the best representative you can be.

So, while many people are under the impression they should change who they are in order to gain votes it’s incredibly important to remember that this is not the case. The power of authenticity cannot be understated. Remember; being yourself can be your biggest strength!

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Lily Doctoroff

Lily was raised in Medfield, Massachusetts, a small town outside of Boston. She currently lives in Chicago while she attends college at the University of Chicago studying Political Science and Religious Studies with a concentration in American Politics. She is a member of the Communications team at NDTC.