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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Motivation of Ashley Burnham

If you're running for political office and have any experienced advisers on your team, they will always ask you to answer one basic question - why are you running?  

There's no one right answer - it can be to ensure a specific issue gets addressed, or because you feel the representation your riding/ward/community has had is inadequate, or because you want to be part of a party that does good stuff for a broader constituency.  The key thing is knowing why you feel voters should entrust you as their voice rather than someone else, which means knowing why you believe you are the best person to be that voice.

It's not as easy a question as one might first think.  Not everyone runs because they have a burning cause, after all.  Some like the idea of being in power, some feel it's just a natural option for them.  I've known a couple of ex-political staff to who ran for office because they couldn't seem to get work anywhere else - it's what they knew, and it worked out for them.

Ideally, the reason your running isn't you and your personal interests, but something that is beyond you.  It's a bit like throwing a punch; the goal isn't to be the one hitting, nor to hit the target - to land a solid, earth-shaking punch you need to aim past your target and see yourself as a conduit for the kinetic energy of the punch itself.  Whether you're a politician, a fighter, a singer or an advocate, that's the kind of power that propels people to do great things.

Which is why I love Ashley Burnham.  Like the best advocates for anything, she has taken her life experience and decided "I want to create better conditions so that those who follow me won't have to go through the same hardships I did."

She didn't want to be Mrs Universe; that was simply a platform for her to achieve her goals.  With this motivation, she brought things unique to her - her culture, her life story - and infused her Miss Universe activity through that lens.  This allowed her to excel, bring forward something unique and interesting to broader audiences.  It also allowed her to tell a powerful story to an audience that hadn't heard it before.

Now, as Mrs. Universe, she is carving out a role for herself as more than just a pretty face, but as an ambassador and as a public figure.  When she speaks, her voice resonates.  

She's no partisan spewing over-blown rhetoric for strategic political gain.  She's a real aboriginal women expressing real concerns based on her own experience, using her platform to channel the voices of countless others, including Canada's missing/murdered indigenous women.

Hers is a voice not so easily dismissed by a government that likes to frame everyone as either unloyal employees or enemies of the state.

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