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Unplugging from the Matrix

Now, before some of you get your feelings hurt, let me explain…

Priorities change.

For me, I made a conscious decision last fall to strategically change directions in my political/public policy work. Here’s the lowdown.

I’m part German and part Irish. As such, believe it or not, I can be a little stubborn and hard-headed sometimes.

No, no…it’s true!

But after running into a brick wall for the last 20 odd years, I’ve finally come to my senses and reached two conclusions:

1.) You can’t take moronic wheel-is-turning-but-the-hamster’s-dead/few-fries-short-of-a-Happy-Meal boobs like Assemblyman Mark Sherwood and turn them into a thinking, sentient elected officials. You have a better chance of slapping the proverbial lipstick on a pig and having the pig win the Miss America pageant.

2.) You can’t take an “electable” moderate candidate and make them into a conservative elected official – especially after the big-money special interests get their claws in them. Exhibit A: Gov. Brian Sandoval.

So the only other option is to help informed, intelligent, principled conservative candidates become more electable because…let’s face it, if you want to change public policy, the only way to really do it is to change public officials.

And no, it’s not enough to simply elect more Republicans regardless of what they believe – as State Sen. Michael Roberson advocates. You have to elect better ones, as well.

As such, I decided to go back to my roots and restart the candidate training programs I was doing all across the country before my first daughter was born in 2000.

In fact, I just finished organizing a full-day candidate training seminar for the Libertarian Party at their national convention in Las Vegas a couple weekends ago…and I’ll be speaking again at the Campaigns & Elections annual conference in Washington, DC next month.

But there was a problem…and something had to give.

Social/electronic media – in my case, primarily Twitter and email – is wonderful. But it can also become addictive. As such, it can eat up hours upon hours upon hours of your time that could otherwise be used for more productive activities or spent with family and friends.

I’m embarrassed to say, I got hooked. And didn’t even realize it was happening.

You know…if it was only an hour or two of wasted time a day – with weekends free – that’d still be bad, but not as bad as I had it. For me, I probably spent at least a good 4-5 hours a day minimum just reading and responding to emails and tweets. Seven days a week.

That’s almost as much time as a full-time job!

Seriously…I’d go to bed and wake up 7 hours later and have 127 emails in my inbox. It was insane!

And not one of them put a dime in my pocket, food on my table or clothes on my kids’ back.

Thank God they don’t wear shoes! (That’s an inside joke for long-time readers.)

Nor did any of those emails or tweets help make conservative candidates more electable…which is now the goal.

(Pause. Taking a break to take the dog for a morning walk…something else I’ve been neglecting to do for a long, long time.)

(OK, I’m back…)

So two months ago I began to slowly wean myself from the Matrix.

I stopped reading the newspaper cover-to-cover every day.

I began unsubscribing from some email newsletters.

And I “un-followed” some people on Twitter…which caused a bit of a problem here at home. You see, one of the people I stopped “following” was my 9-year-old daughter, Jenna, whose feelings were considerably hurt. So I had to immediately “re-follow” her.

To make a long story short, I attended a 4-day coaching/speaking/marketing seminar this past weekend in Los Angeles and came to the conclusion already reached by the seminar host, James Malinchak, that it was time to go “cold turkey.”

So I “unfollowed” all but three people on Twitter:

(1) My own @CampaignDoctor Twitter account – in case I want to re-tweet something there that I think my general Twitter followers might be interested in.

(2) My daughter Jenna – for the obvious reason!

(3) And Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Steve Sebelius.

Steve’s now my political “lifeline.” He doesn’t tweet excessively for ego-boosting gratification the way some other self-absorbed pundits do. And I figure if something happens in Las Vegas, Nevada or Washington that’s important enough for Steve to tweet about, it might be important enough for me to read about.

In any case, if I’ve unsubscribed from your e-newsletter or un-followed you on Twitter, PLEASE don’t take it personally.

It’s not that I don’t value your opinions or want to read about your issues. It’s that there are only so many hours in the day…and I need to spend more of them reading my kids’ essays and homework…as well as e-newsletters on ways to help make conservative candidates more electable.

So I’m no longer waking up every morning and spending hours reading The Hill, the Wall Street Journal Online and Neal Boortz.

Instead I’m reading Dan Kennedy, Kevin Gentry, Katya’s Non-Profit Marketing, Robert Skrob, MaryEllen Tribby, Ryan Deiss, Future Fundraising Now, Bob Bly and Joe Polish.

“Who?” I hear you collectively ask.

Exactly. They’re not conservative activists. They’re not candidates or elected officials. They’re not party or think tank leaders. They’re not political reporters, columnists or bloggers.

But they ARE experts in direct marketing, communications and fundraising…which will help me help conservative candidates get more votes, more donations and more volunteers.

So the bottom line is that from this point forward, I may not be writing my e-newsletters on politics and public policy quite as often. And when I do, I might not cover quite as much.

To which I hear a number of you shouting, “Thank heaven!”

Instead, the bulk of my time will be devoted to writing Campaign Hot Tips at www.CampaignDoctor.com (subscribe today!) and finding other ways to show conservative candidates how to get more votes, more donations and more volunteers.

So rest assured, I’m not leaving the battlefield; I’m just taking the fight to a new front.

Onward…