Political campaigns are about a lot of things: message, money, organization and of course, more money. But campaigns are also about storytelling.
Stories help candidates connect with voters, putting a human face on dry policy debates. Some politicians are born storytellers, while others need some help.
That’s where strategists like Burns Strider come in.
Strider is a long-time Democratic operative who has worked on more than 100 campaigns, including as the head of faith outreach for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
On the latest DecodeDC podcast, guest host Michelle Cottle chats with Strider about political storytelling, which he sees as the heart and soul of American politics.
“A candidate’s job is to share themselves with the American people. And the stories, the narrative has to be real. It has to be honest. It has to be told,” says Strider.
Strider’s storytelling craft extends beyond just the candidates. Lately, he’s been helping train a pro-Hillary Clinton army of workers at the grassroots level, organizing classes to teach people how to tell their own personal stories about Clinton.
“You have to equip and empower surrogates out around the country, and let it work its way down and sideways and up and about in a campaign and in your body of supporters, and have them telling your story too,” Strider explains.
Strider admits that it’s a little ironic that he’s part of a team of people behind the scenes carefully crafting the “authentic” image of a candidate. But at the end of the day, he says you can’t fool the American voter.