1. Build a power base. I spend a couple of years being as friendly as possible to everyone in my community (while loathing them secretly from behind their backs, of course), earning their trust and enabling me to carry out Step 2.

2. Start small. I started by running for Junior Class President at my high school. The captain of the football team was swamped by my witticisms at the campaign speech assembly. I turned my Desktop Publishing class into a campaign support center and illegally blitzed the school with flyers, posters, and sandwich boards. Elections were held during lunch, as we got the vote out in the cafeteria rather than attending class. End result: The unpopular but funny kid wins the election 68% to 32%.

3. Get press. A few months into the presidency, I decided it was time to move up. I decided to announce candidacy for the Massachusetts State House of Representatives. I whipped up a press release and faxed it off to the local newspapers.

However, after a week, nothing had happened. Dejectedly, I returned to my official duties.

Three days later, somebody congratulated me on my run for office. "What?" I asked. "How do you know about that?"

"It was in the paper," she replied. Some investigation revealed that a small, four-town-service area paper that I'd sent the press release to had printed it, albeit a bit late. Half the school knew before I did.

"Cool!" I said to myself. "If only I could get some real press." That night, the major metropolitan newspaper called my house and asked for an interview. Needless to say, I was pumped. I did the interview, snapped some dramatic pictures, and spoke at a September 11th vigil that evening.

At the vigil, I met my Democratic opponent (I'm running as an Independent, so I don't have to compete in the primary.) The thing to recall at this point is that I'm only 16 years old at the time of the story. This becomes a useful lesson for everyone -- the trick to succeeding in politics is just to do something really unusual and wait for the offers to pour in.

At press time, I'm still in the running, although the election isn't until 2004 (when I'll be 18). E2 shall be kept posted.

Update: People wanted some more information, so here's some:

The campaign website is at http://www.angelfire.com/ma4/vanschouwen .

My platform is education reform (i.e., making the MCAS non-required for graduation) and gay civil rights (i.e., legalized gay marriage). But I'm also eerily pro-death penalty and pro-school vouchers.

There's no application fee for running, but I do need to collect the signatures of 150 registered voters from my district, which is three towns and two chunks of towns.

The Campaign Trail, March 5, 2003: Not much just yet, of course. We are less than a year from nomination-time, although candidates are already piling up for the much-coveted office. Reports say that the incumbent will not be running again, leaving me with an interesting field to fight in.

The Campaign Trail, March 20, 2004: Getting better! Nomination papers have been issued and are distributing themselves through Western Massachusetts rapidly -- moving quickly toward 150 signatures.

What has changed is that I'm now running on the Democratic ticket, because the blue candidate from last year is running again and we have largely the same positions.

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