Dear Political Candidates--
Now that the dust from the recent election is settling, and the members of the warring political parties--of all stripes, from Libertarian to Green, as well as Republican and Democratic--are getting ready to face a new week (the first week in a long, long time that is not centered on election strategies), I would like to present some small observations that may be of use to future candidates. I offer them as a public service, in the spirit of non-partisanship, below the squiggle.
These are the lessons that I have learned from our most recent political exercises:
1. If you are going to win, you have to convince a majority of the voting public that you are on their side.
The majority of the voting public considers itself to be somewhere in the middle of the political, social, and economic spectrum. The definition of “middle class” or “average American” is a pretty broad one because most of us think we belong there. Some of us work very long hours to keep ourselves in that category. If you can’t meet us somewhere in the middle, you are in trouble.
2. If you think that average, middle class Americans are inferior to you, you need to get out more.
There are actually some people in the world who define success in ways you may never have imagined. Their intelligence, creativity and courage may surprise you. If you think that you are better than they are because you have a bigger net worth, or because you truly deserve three or four houses, as well as a personal lawyer to find those lovely tax loopholes, you are mistaken, and you are in trouble.
3. Your campaign is yours to shape as you see fit.
If you wish, you are free to campaign as a superior being. Offer the public as little information as possible. Explain that your wonderful plan to help the country is complicated, a bit beyond the understanding of ordinary folks. Change your principles from day to day, and hour to hour, saying to each gathering whatever you think they want to hear. Be a salesman! On the other hand, you are entitled to your private, personal opinions, even if they contradict the sales job. Go ahead and make ethnically derogatory jokes behind closed doors, or remark that you consider nearly half the voters to be unworthy of your time and attention--because they are lazy, undeserving moochers, and everyone knows that a society that values sharing is no society at all... It’s your campaign. Do what you want. Just don’t be surprised if you get in trouble.
4. Your choices have consequences.
However, if you choose to behave like a glib salesman who promises anything to close the deal (even if it won’t be in the final contract), or if you choose to sneer at people who are not like you (even if you do it in private), and finally, most especially, if you choose to forget that this is the 21st century and that most voters use the internet and are not idiots--if you choose to insult our intelligence--then you deserve what you get. You deserve to be in trouble with the voting public. And, yes, you deserve to lose the election.
A Real American