Charles Mwewa
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RULES OF POLITICS

  

#1. PERCEPTION IS CURRENCY – things can be or they cannot be, but let people perceive them to be favorable to you, and to them. 


#2. GUARD THE BRAND – people relate politics to a name or names, guard the brand jealously. If your strength/brand is the candidate, rally every troop to shelter his or her territory and character. In democratic politics, a good name is equal to longevity. A bad name will shortly be defeated by a good one – just introduce another brand and the old brand will be forgotten!


#3. PEOPLE OVER PLAN – it may seem a contradiction with reality, but in politics people want to seem to come first. They want to feel they come first. They want to hear they come first. They love to hear they come first, even if deep down their hearts they know you are lying!


#4. LEADER’S WEAKNESSES ARE STRENGTHS – you never accept or seem to concede that your leader has weaknesses. To the electorate, a leader is almost infallible (and even when they know he or she is human), they just want to hear that he or she is always right, always strong and always there. If the leader has weaknesses, they want to hear that, in fact, those are strengths by another name, and this is how! E.g. if a leader made a legitimate, public and documented mistake or blunder, and they apologize, turn the apology into a sign of eternal mortality and how that they alone have a sense of blame ownership!


#5. ALWAYS COMPARE WITH AN OPPOSITION – don’t compare the politician to another politician only if that politician is an opponent in an election. In other words, let the voters feel that you are exactly like everyone else except your competitor. That way when the people enter the booth, they only see you and your opponent and immediately rule your opponent out. It’s that simple.


#6. MAKE AN OPPONENT’S ONE WEAKNESS ALL THEIR WEAKNESSES – thus, if they can do this, they can do that and that and that. But make your one strength your all strengths – thus because you can do this or you are this, then you are all these other good things or you can do all these other good things.  


#7. YOUR RIDING IS YOUR LANDING – are you vying for a national stage, a constituency or a municipal portfolio, it does not matter. Make that stage your fall to place. “I am doing this because of [my country, area, constituency, and etc.]” In other words, you are nothing without your riding – if you fail to win the election, your riding should suffer from what could have been had you win. Of course, you will win. Your riding comes first, not your family or your personal interests (if that’s also your agenda, then you will be wise not to disclose them!)


#8. SPEAK THE PEOPLE’S LANGUAGE – that is, speak the people’s language, relate to them, feel and sound like them. If possible, quote the local poets and remind them of their own great people. Culture is deeply imbued in language expressions, and these people are already familiar with their own heroes. All you are trying to be is their next hero.


#9. PAINT A PICTURE – people remember most what is graphic and leaves a picture in their minds. Demonstrate before them. Sketch their problems and the proposed solutions. Let the people “see” how you will be different from anyone else, the opponent.


#10. SHOWCASE 90% WHAT – 10% HOW MATRIX – people want to fall in love with a person and what he or she is promising before they hear how he or she will reach there (this, too, is contrary to what is assumed to be logical!) It’s wise to devote 90% of your campaign or time to telling the people “What” you will do and achieve for them. Just towards the election day, then reveal your platform – the “How” you will reach there. This leaves the brilliant analyst with little time to scrutinize your platform, and since the people have already internalized you, they will vote for you, anyway. 


#11. INVOKE THE PEOPLE TO VOTE, ANY CHANCE YOU GET – people feel “sent” when they reach the ballot booth/box. The politician who challenged people to go out and vote will usually receive more votes. Why! Because people behave as if he or she has “sent” them there, to vote.

 

#12. PREPARATION IS KEY – Don’t appear in public without preparation. Don’t go to speak to the media without a signature attire, smile or characteristic. Do not be caught unaware – your unkempt last-appearance could be the only thing people remember. Don’t mix up numbers – get your figures and facts right. Do your make-up right. Review history, if possible, unless you can spin it to look like, “I was just joking!” Even if you didn’t prepare well, remember Rule #1, create the perception you are prepared. If people feel that you are working hard for them, they will think that you will work hard for them!


#13. DON’T MIX UP NUMBERS/FACTS – get your figures and facts right. Do your make-up right. Review history, if possible, unless you can spin it to look like, “I was just joking!” Even if you didn’t prepare well, remember Rule #1, create the perception you are prepared. If people feel that you are working hard for them, they will think that you will work hard for them!


#14. STUDY YOUR OPPONENT – you cannot assume your opponent will say this or that or do this or that, anticipate they will. Study their mannerisms and understand both their strengths and weaknesses and these fair or compare to your own. You fall only because you don’t know, not because you did know. 


#15. ALWAYS HAVE YOUR OWN VERSION OF THE STORY – a strategic politician wants to whirl their own version of things. People fail to write-down a candidate on two sets of stories on the issue. They seem to want to know which is the best or correct version, but in party politics, that time factor is gold. You only accept the opponent’s version of the story if it helps you. Otherwise it is political suicide to accept what your opponent says without a reasonable rebuttal.


#16. TRUTH IS RELATIVE – politics is not a religion; it is an exercise in civic responsibility. Since it caters to a larger array of ideas and viewpoints, truth is transacted in relativity rather than in absolutes. Idea synthesis is key. A true politician looks at all views and embraces and becomes all things to all people. He may not be a scientist, but he or she must embrace some salience of science; they may not be Muslims, but they must embrace some salience of Islam; and they may not belong to a particular race, tribe or caste, but they must embrace salience of all these aggregates. Legacy is only possible where a politician considers all the people as important – the young, old, women, men and so on. 


#17. PROMISE PERMISSIVENESS – good politicians do not use promises as means to an end; promises are the ends. Politics is deeply rooted in making good, wide and believable promises. The fulfillment of promises is not the ultimate goal of democratic politicking – promises are tied to the Rule of Law. Hence, being agenda-driven, a good politician will strive to translate some or all of their promises into legislation but this must not be taken as the ultimate goal. Compulsory process requires only that promises were made and efforts were made to attempt to translate them into law. A politician should not be indicted on the premise that their promises never became law; success should be measured on the efforts made. This is so because of Rule #18. 


#18. PRIORITIES MAY SUPERSEDE PROMISES – in parliamentary democracy, the party with the majority Members of Parliament (MPs) forms government. In presidential democracy, the person who wins the presidency, their party also wins a tenure in power. Once the mandate is given by an election, the politician must choose wisely among various competing demands and prioritize the management of promises. Because democratic politics is tenure-based, it may not be feasible to implement all promises or to translate all of them into law in a limited space of time. Setting reachable, attainable and pragmatic priorities is vital to keeping the electorates happy. And good politics thrives on constant communication with the electorate, the people, on why certain promises were delayed or would have to wait. 


#19. ASSUMPTION IS LIABILITY – political geniuses know that to assume what people want is an error. To know what the people need, is golden. A politician must invest in research and analysis. There are no two ways about it.


#20. TELL THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR – politics is not preaching. It is not lecturing, either. You don’t tell people what you want or know. People want you to tell them what they want to hear or what they want to know. Period.


#21. RESTATE SUCCESSES, EXPLAIN FAILURES – this should be an all-season mantra. People forget. Remind them often of all the successes you are making. When you fail to fulfill a promise or you encounter legislation failure, immediately explain to the people. Keep doing this for as long as you remain a politician.


#22. SPIN IS NOT A SIN – a good politician must be a master at spinning. This is anchored in Rule #16. Politics is not a judicial theater, and truth is relative. Always find a way to explain a point, an event, a view or a development. Spin is not a sin; its how you view things.


#23. ALWAYS ANSWER A QUESTION EVEN IF YOU DON’T ANSWER IT – in other words, always say something or provide some explanation to an inquiry. Silence is political failure. 


#24. CHARISMA IS CATALYST – keep things interesting. Charm the people. Dazzle their minds. Create excitement. This is how this ancient syllogism works: People love to listen and believe someone who seem to know and believe in what they are transacting. If you display charisma for the proposition you are selling to the electorate, they will, therefore, be interested in it and will support you. This has never failed to awaken disinterred folks who end up lifting you up to glory. If you are slow, dull and unassuming, people may not take you seriously.


#25. FASHION IS BASTION – be a statement, exult style and embrace a peculiar fashion. Your style is your fortress – it will protect you. If you have no sense of style or fashion, people will compare you to the ideal and the obvious, and you may fall short. From your onset of politicking, set a peculiar fashion tone and stick to it. If you wear a mustache, stick to it. If you prefer going bored, keep it that way. That will be your statement and it will form your stronghold. This, too, simply you for your audience and makes them feel comfortable with you. It is not simply what you can do; it is what you must do!


#26. MILD POLITICAL CORRECTNESS – use political correctness, mildly, and only to win over your opponent, thereafter rule and be politically incorrect.


#27. ALWAYS A LEANER – in politics, you are always a student: Study what makes people cynical and disillusioned, and fix them.


#28. MAKE NEW NEWS – do not allow your opponent to move first, to break new news before you. Always engineer ways in which you are the new breaker. That way, you will always have the media credit you, directly or indirectly.


#29. ANTI-TRIBAL WIZARDRY – get sick when you talk about tribalism, racialism or castism. People want to know you care about such issues. Don’t simply read a statement. 


#30. REAL CHANGE IS BOTTOM-UP – somehow everyone thinks that the politicians make change happen, that’s a fallacy. Real change is prompted and maintained by the people. When people organize and demand change, political leadership should answer. Grassroots campaign, similarly, is the best and easiest way to galvanize the masses for political change. Feed the people with good reasons why they should demand change, and they will bring change. A clever politician reads the tides and rides on them, with the masses.


#31. SURVIVAL IS REVIVAL – politics is anatomically a bone of endurance. Each day, there will be mud thrown at you. You should not allow any to stick on you – though you can’t avoid it thrown at you.


#32. SCANDALS HAVE LIFESPAN – the nature of scandals is that they have a birth day, a life and they die. If a scandal cannot be killed in infancy, it must be neutralized as it grows, evidently making it harmless. Time is the best umpire. The longer a scandal persists, the easier it is to spin it into a distraction. A scandal is only effective the shortest lifespan it has. Thus, if you have something to bring against your opponent, wait a few days before the elections. Because, then it will be fresh as the people vote. If one is leveled against you close to election time, do not keep silence, say something to diminish its potency, as well as propagandizing to the electorate what you believe is or are the real problems they face. You may accept the scandal is real or did happen, but then transfer the blame to someone or something else. As people try to figure out the other blameworthy individual or thing, elections would have taken place and you would have received your vote.


#33. OPPORTUNISM IS RESOURCEFULNESS – elsewhere you will be accused of being an opportunist, but not in politics. If you cannot take down a wounded buffalo, you are in dangerous territories when it recovers. If you cannot knock down a wimpy, dazed and unstable boxer, you are in deep trouble when she stabilizes. Do your job while your opponent stumbles. As they say, “Finish him!” Elsewhere, that could be wrong, and even immoral, but not in politics; it’s a strength.


#34. LAW OF SUSTENANCE – you can call it whatever you want, if you cannot sustain a story that hurts the political interests of the other side, you have not mastered the skills necessary for political manumission. Keep hitting hard on the opponent with what is working. If the rates are going up, your favorability is skyrocketing or you keep winning by a certain story, keep it going. Sustain it until it is no longer effective. To do so, keep repeating the same line over and over and over again. 


#35. MASTER IN MUDSLING – mudslinging is the art of making malicious or scandalous allegations about an opponent with the aim of damaging their reputation. Depending on which side you find yourself, either have a damage control strategy (see Rule #7) or have your own quiver full of exerted mud slides. You will be wise to use them in moderation. If people think that you are only looking for malicious ways to discredit your opponent, it could backfire on you. 


#36. ISSUES THAT MATTER – even in overtly uncivilized worlds, in any political cycle, there are issues that matter to people. It could be the economy (bread and butter issues), foreign policy, poverty, and etc., and a good politician remembers to address these issues. People relate well to a candidate who seem to focus and speak to what they are confronting on day-to-day basis.


#37. NEVER PREACH VIOLENCE – don’t even imply in your campaigning or statements. Preaching violence has a boomerang effect and can cause serious jeopardy to democracy and its principles of tolerance and good government. A politician who ignores their violent cadres are doing a disservice to politics in general. Where there has been a violence, a politician should condemn such in strongest terms. Keeping silence when violence has been used by your party is complicity.


#38. EMOTIONAL CONTROL – in politics, you get to be asked the same questions over and over again. Usually in general living, such repetitious questioning can be a source of anger and frustration. But never in politics. You must always repeat your answer even if it has been asked 1000 times. Never should any anger or frustration, simply answer, graciously and competently as if you are hearing the question for the first time. Refer to Rule #39 for further clarification.


#39. RULE OF FORTY-NINE INSANITY – in politics, you must be insane at least 49 percent of the time. The Rule of Insanity is normalcy in politics because each time you meet people, they have no idea who you had met before. So, people are expected to probe you on the same issue other did. Your thinking should not retrospective but prospective, as if you are encountering the people for the first time. 


#40. DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE – unless you can’t do so without miring yourself in deep trouble, avoid to defend what is clear and plain before the people. 


#41. MINIMUM INFORMATION, MAXIMUM REFORMATION– a politician is not a journalist, sometimes the two roles could be so close that they may be mistaken or could interlay. It is the duty of journalists to inform, not of politicians. Political rhetoric should concentrate on policy and implementation. The duo ideals of policy and implementation favor reformation rather than information. Unless in informing a politician is advancing a position least understood or is providing evidence to prove or disprove a claim, majority of the time should be spent on reforms. Thus, a politician should make announcements, statements and clarifications. When elected, this should continue as legislation and policy implementation tools.


#42. MEDIA LOVE-TRAP – however hard it may try; the media is a human institution and emotions and favoritism reign supreme. Therefore, accept media love cautiously. The rule is not to over-engage to the extent that you trust the media wholly to transmit your views. As long as media remains for profit, it will always love you for as long as you have not gaffed. When it is not in its interest, the media may dump you just as fast. 


#43. PANDER BLUNDER – many a politician believes that their views will be communicated correctly by the media. That is thinking best tempered with caveat. The media like to report your politics from its own perspectives. Do not buy too much in what the pundits gloat over. If one member of the media says something bad about you or your policies, do not vow revenge; it’s just the nature of politics-media relationship when it comes to politicking. Rather, presume your views will be misreported until they are not. Give the media a benefit of the doubt. The reason is simple: If you lean towards a certain view and a media house adheres towards the same, your views are likely to be reported not only accurately but with an exaggerated pastiche, but in your favor. The opposite is the case if the media house does not prefer your view. In the later case, remain composed, and make written statements and press releases so that the said unfavorable media is forced to report you accurately.


#44. WHEN YOUR OPPONENT SAYS YOU’RE WRONG – you may be right. Politics is a single-glory street, it rarely stops at the “You’re Right Boulevard.” That means that if you craft a plan, policy or agenda and your opponents say it is wrong, without giving any alternatives, chances are you’re right. Do not fall into the trap of second-guessing your agenda, simply show the electorate that your opponent lacks an alternative plan or what they have danced is shaky or unattainable. If your opponent brings out an alternative agenda, it is incumbent upon you to make comparable submissions and ask the voters to prefer your plan. Remember Rule #11.


#45. IF YOUR OPPONENT SAY YOU’RE RIGHT – it means you are right. But only if your opponent doesn’t proffer an advanced a superior simulant. If your opponent merely praises your project, plan agenda or policy, and does not give a superior alternative, take advantage of the praise and communicate, in your opponent’s own words, to the voters or the people. It is also preferable to create TV ads and place your opponent in the center of advancing your agenda. If your opponent agrees with you or your policy and does, indeed, provide a simulant, you have to react as in Rule #44.


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"In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia."


George Orwell