I was talking to a politician recently who has been through many campaign wars and he made a simple but cogent point about running for office: “Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.”
That declarative sentence may be one of the more overlooked or misunderstood tactics first-time candidates run up against.
This person mentioned above is probably one of the most trusted politicians I know and the reasons are he delivers and doesn’t play the political shell game.
That’s a lot harder than it sounds for a candidate new to the game.
Usually, candidates running for local office gets sucked into the vortex of pleasing constituents with blue sky. Community cranks start in like a 1960 Volkswagen with a bad starter and, for the inexperienced, it is difficult to say no – politely and politically.
Here is good of rule for someone who really wants to gets elected and then sees that wish come true.
The guy standing on the street corner with a tin-foil hat and a burlap bag of potatoes from Mars has more ability to get things done.
Council and commission seats are legislative bodies that decide (or can’t decide) and work through consensus and coalition. Coalition building is often poorly understood or attempted at the local level. All that listening and compromising goes against nature. We are all too often in a legislative milieu of, “there are my facts, and your facts that are all wrong. But it is OK for you to believe in facts that are dumb.”
Understanding the limits of the legislative process and the body where one serves is essential. Many of the problems that arise in the governing process come when officials, willfully or not, balk at accepting their roles and the limits of power. So much of our government is about limiting power.
Voters would be best served if they know what an official can do and what they should not promise.
After talking to the political warrior, I came up with another of my Twilight Zone theories regarding political science. Electing a politician is like getting married. There are always lots of promises, and then comes a time when a couple actually has to live with each other – every day.
Imagine what a mess men would be in if a women could vote them out after two years for fakey promises not kept.
It is kindergarten rules 101 – don’t make promises you can’t keep.