I know you’ve got this. You’ve been in public service your entire adult life. You know policy. You actually know the world leaders and have been to most of the countries that might come up in questions tonight. You’ve served in the Senate. You’ve been Secretary of State. You’ve worked on the ground in every place you’ve lived to make the lives of people better, to give kids better access to education, and to seek justice.
You’ve got this.
And yet, the news (even my beloved NPR) is full of the THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW AND DO in order to win the debates. Unlike your opponent, who just needs to show up and have a pulse to be a success, it is a more challenging road for you.
So, here are some helpful tips, based on my own experience and on what I’ve heard on the news.
- Be smart. We need to know our presidential candidate is informed, educated, and qualified for the job.
- Don’t be too smart. Voters are apparently threatened by women who are too informed on the issues.
- Be tough. How can you be president if you are going to be all weepy and womany and emotional all the time?
- Be soft. Voters want you to be approachable. They don’t want you to be a bitch. Maybe now’s the time to start baking cookies?
- Smile. See, don’t you feel happier when you smile?
- Don’t smile too much. You don’t want it to look forced.
- Look professional. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have! That’s what I always hear, often from men wearing sweatpants. (To what job are they aspiring, I wonder).
- Don’t look too mannish. Voters don’t want an asexual president. Be a little sexy. Just not too sexy. You can find that line, right? Good.
- Apologize already for the ______________fill in the blank offense of the week (email server, having pneumonia, noticing that many of your opponent’s supporters are racists, whatever).
- Do not ever apologize. We don’t want our president to be a flip flopper. If you acknowledge error, they will seize it like a jugular and won’t let go until you’ve bled out on the stage.
- Speaking of blood, don’t. When voters are reminded that women inhabit human bodies that bleed every month, they get totally skeeved out.
- Bring your voice down a few octaves. How can voters hear what you say if you speak in your normal cadence? Who wants a “shrill” president?
- Most importantly, be yourself.