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Run for Something

A Real-Talk Guide to Fixing the System Yourself



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About The Book

The must-have guide for young progressives looking to run for local office, complete with contributions from elected officials and political operatives.

You’ve been depressed since the night of November 8, 2016. You wore black to work the next morning. You berated yourself for your complacency during the Obama years. You ranted on Twitter. You deleted Twitter. You sent emails to your friends saying, “How can we get more involved?” You listened to Pod Save America. You knit­ted a pussyhat. You showed up to the Women’s March on Washington. You protested Donald Trump’s executive orders. You called your congressman. You called other people’s congressmen. You set up monthly donations to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. You reactivated Twitter (begrudgingly).

Here’s what you do next: Run for something.

To be specific: Run for local office and become the change you want to see in the world. Forget about Con­gress. Forget about the Senate. Focus on the offices that get the real sh*t done: state legislatures, city councils, school boards, and mayors.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not a white man over sixty with an Ivy League law degree. (In fact, it’s better if you’re not!)

It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the first thing about running for office, or never even imagined you would. That’s what this book is for.

Amanda Litman, experienced in hard-fought state and national election campaigns, is here to give you guid­ance as well as wisdom and insight from elected officials and political operatives she interviewed for this book.

There are half a million elected officials in the United States. Why can’t you be one of them?


Run for Something

A Pep Talk

by Emmy Ruiz

Nevada and Colorado State Director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign | Political Director of Annie’s List

Hey. Stop looking around and wondering what if.

No doubt about it, we are living in uncertain times. Donald J. Trump is president of the United States and working hard to turn back the clock on every civil rights victory our country has fought for. Every single one of them.

But our country has been through painful times before. We cannot forget that during our country’s history there have been plenty of hard truths to overcome. And there will be more.

It wasn’t that long ago that slavery in our country was legal. That black and brown kids were segregated in schools. That women didn’t have the right to vote or make our own decisions about our bodies. Hell, today women are still not paid for equal work—and the pay gap is even worse for women of color.

Black men and women are being harmed by our country’s policing and incarceration practices. Our families are being torn apart. More so than at any time before, immigrants are a political target. State legislature after state legislature has rolled back the clock on our voting rights and on protective measures for women’s health.

Elections matter. Policies matter. And above all, the people who represent you and your family matter.

Every election, whether it is for the school board or the U.S. Senate, has consequences. And the sad truth is that in our country, communities of color and women will be disproportionately affected by the decisions our current elected officials (Republicans) will make. It is unconscionable.

Election Day 2016 was yet another painful reminder that there is still so much progress to be made. There are more questions than answers right now, but we’ve all got a choice to make. We can stand up for what’s right, we can speak up for the voiceless, or we can pretend as if nothing has occurred and keep wondering what if.

Who is going to help? What can be done? How can we best resist?

Stop looking around and asking yourself these questions. There is only one person I want you to take a closer look at.


Because what if it’s you? Starting today, see yourself as the leader our communities and country deserve. Yes, you. Do everything you can to elect someone who represents us all: you.

Why? Because you’re you. Because you care. Because of the unique story that only you can tell. Because you are a woman. Because you are a person of color. Because if not you, who else? Our country and democracy deserve you.

Think of the life you’ve lived and what has shaped you most. Maybe it’s that you, like most of our country, are drowning in college debt, or that, like mine, your parents are immigrants, and you’ve seen how hard they’ve worked to live the American dream.

I’m begging you. Run for office. Run for something. Lead something. Raise your hand. Jump into the fight.

I was Hillary Clinton’s state director in Nevada. It was the final days before the caucus, and we were tied with Senator Sanders and spending the day going from event to event.

During one event, a young girl named Karla raised her hand and asked Hillary Clinton about her parents. She started to cry, worried that they would be deported. Hillary held her in her arms to answer her question and promised she would do everything she could to help her.

Would a Republican today have the same reaction to our moment with Karla? This moment is an example of leadership. Leadership with heart, warmth, and purpose.

Right now, our country is made up of more than 50 percent women and almost 40 percent are people of color, but our elected officials and people in leadership do not reflect that.

Only 19 percent of the U.S. Congress is made up of women and people of color.

You can do the math. It’s on all of us to change that.

Okay, you convinced me. Maybe I could run for office, but how?

It’s not going to be easy, but fighting for what’s right is always worth it. Follow these easy steps and jump into the ring.

Define your values: What are you fighting for and who do you care about the most? What kind of leader do you want to be? What are the issues that move you in your own community? For example, think of all the young Dreamers (those who benefit from the Obama administration’s Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) in our country who go to school, scared sick they might never see their parents again. They are who I’m fighting for.

Decide what office you are running for: Where does your passion lie? If you care about education, it might make sense for you to start by running for school board or to be a university regent. If you want to take on the corruption in Washington, run for Congress! The possibilities are endless. Ultimately, you get to decide.

Invest in people power: Your family, friends, colleagues, and people are your most precious resources. They will help you raise the early money you need to get started, build your network, and get the word out about the race you are running. Until you start to build out your staff, volunteers are critical to help you do the work. Start by asking the people who love and know you the most.

Be bold: There is too much on the line for any of us to hesitate or to not speak up for what we believe. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Now is the time for action and for speaking up.

What I’m asking you to do is to commit to bold leadership—a type of bold leadership that always stands up for what is right, speaks up when necessary (and even when not), and always asks the question “Are we lifting each other up right now?”

Don’t get me wrong. Running for office won’t be easy, but doing the right thing is always worth it. And of course, you might lose.

But every single day you will have the opportunity to win. You win when you listen to someone who has never felt heard, when someone volunteers for the first time, and when you elevate the issues that truly affect people’s lives. But above all, our communities win. We get to write the definition of what it means to “win.”

People are starved for leadership and, like you, are looking for direction. For a second, imagine the impact you will have on a young Latina who has never seen anyone who looks like her run for office. In you, she will see herself and know that anything is possible.

If you run a campaign based on values and empowering people, running for office will be a life-changing experience. And if you’re not going to do it for you, do it for those who need us most.

So stop looking around. It’s you we’ve all been waiting for. Look at yourself and jump in. Be bold. Run for office. Help someone run for office. Change the face of power in our country.

It’s not just that I’m asking you to stop looking around and start looking at yourself; it’s that it is on us. It’s our turn. It’s our responsibility to speak up and fight for our communities.

About The Author

Photograph by Victor Ng

Amanda Litman is the co-founder and executive director of Run for Something, a PAC that helps recruit and support young, diverse progressives running for down-ballot office. Previously, she was the email director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, digital director for Charlie Crist's 2014 Florida gubernatorial campaign, deputy email director for Organizing for Action, and an email writer for Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. She graduated from Northwestern University in 2012 with a B.A. in American Studies. She lives in Brooklyn with her rescue dog, Sadie. For more information, visit and follow @AmandaLitman on Twitter.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (October 3, 2017)
  • Length: 240 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501180446

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