Gary Johnson could improve his chances of being inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States in 2013, if his supporters will just take to heart this: treat others the way you would like to be treated.
There is a mistake that I see being made by supporters of political candidates or issues, all too often: that if you can just fight with enough people whose views differ from you, and emerge victorious from each battle, then you will have won the war.
Many very nasty candidates with very nasty supporters often win their campaigns, yes, but only because of other extraneous circumstances. Being nasty has never helped anyone organize and energize people to pursue a goal of change. In every case, it is a drag on one’s endeavors. But, what, specifically, do I mean in the political context by “treating others the way you would like to be treated”?
Just like Gary Johnson has Seven Principles Of Good Government, so I would like to offer my Seven Principles Of Good Campaigning:
1). Don’t attack, disparage, or criticise other potential 2012 candidates, or their supporters. These other potential candidates are well-liked by many of the people whose support we’ll need in order to win in 2012. People always respond far better to compliments and affirmation than they do to criticism. Criticism merely foments resentment. Instead, give honest and sincere appreciation. Gary won both of his gubernatorial campaigns on a 100% positive/no-attack-ads basis. He can win the next campaign in the same way.
2). Always assume good intentions on the part of others. Even if you believe that one of the other people who might be running in 2012 is just a charlatan who doesn’t care about the good of the country and just wants to add another trophy to their shelf, don’t say it. Even if you believe that a supporter of another candidate is being willfully dishonest with themself and is supporting a candidate that they know is inferior to Gary Johnson, don’t say it. Assume that the other candidates really believe they’re doing the right thing, and assume that the other candidates’ supporters really believe that the candidate they’re supporting is a good guy. Always assume the other guy means well. Try to honestly see things from other people’s point of view.
3). If you want to interest others in Gary Johnson, talk about what interests them. For instance, if you’re talking to someone who is bored by economics, but really feels passionately about abortion, tell them that Johnson would end Medicaid funding for abortion, and believes in getting Roe v. Wade repealed, so that individual states can deal with it as they see fit without the heavy hand of the federal government. Tell them why Gary can be counted on to keep his word to send abortion back to the states (by showing them how he followed through so amazingly on so many other issues). If you’re talking to someone who doesn’t care about the Fed, then don’t rail against the Fed in an attempt to sway them to support Gary. Rather, really become interested in other people and what they think.
4). The quickest way to win an argument is not to start one. Unless you are debating someone in front of an audience of undecided thinkers, arguments are a waste of time and are actually detrimental to your cause. You will never convince the other person that they are wrong, and if you do, they won’t admit it. By trying to argue with people, you insult their intelligence, make them lose face, and make them resent you. They might very well be unintelligent and overly egotistical, but don’t treat them that way. And by the way, if you are ever wrong, admit it. You’ll gain a lot of respect from the other person, instantly defuse any hostility, and will make the other person more open to your thoughts.
5). Make people WANT to support Gary Johnson. Give people a positive incentive to promote Gary Johnson. One of the most successful campaign ads in American history was Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America.” It was so successful because it didn’t try to scare people with what would happen if the other guy were elected, but rather painted a positive picture and gave people a reason to want to vote for Ronald Reagan. Likewise, we must be able to tell people not why Barack Obama or any other Republican candidate would ruin America, but why Gary Johnson will make America great and prosperous. One good way to do this is to lead people on a trail of Yesses. Find something they can agree with and support–something they can say “Yes” to, and keep throwing out things they can say “Yes” to until you work your way back up to Gary Johnson. For instance: “Wouldn’t you like to see the size and spending of government come back down to a reasonable level? (Yes.) Don’t you wish there were more politicians who would keep good on their promise to restore fiscal sanity? (Yes!) Would you like to know who I think might be a good option for President in 2012? (Sure!) Former two-term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson–he vetoed more bills than all the other Governors combined, cut taxes 14 times, and eliminated his state’s budget deficit. Wouldn’t he be fantastic in the White House? (Yeah!)”
6). Be a good listener. When you’re talking with others, make sure to smile, look them in the eye, give them a firm handshake, adopt open (as opposed to defensive or offensive) body language, remember their name and say it back to them, make the other person feel important and smart, encourage others to talk about themselves and what they think, and listen listen listen (let the other person do most of the talking). It helps if you make a conscious effort to start sentences with phrases like, “Tell me about…” or “What are your thoughts on…”, etc. If you give a little, you’ll find that you get a lot.
7). The best way to sell something is to give something away for free. This is a paraphrase of Tucker’s Law, named after Jeffrey Tucker of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Mr. Tucker rightly noticed that libertarianism has been able to spread so widely so quickly because people like Leonard Reid gave their books away for free. The Mises Institute now offers an entire library of books online for free, and they have sparked a renaissance in Austrian Economics. One of the most memorable stories I recall from the Ron Paul 2008 campaign was when Ron Paul supporters stood outside a Republican Party meeting on a blistering cold night and offered free hot cocoa to people as they exited. They started a lot of great conversations, made a lot of key connections and friendships, and did a world of good for the Ron Paul campaign in their area that night. Everyone likes freebies.