Why I Don’t Believe in Democratic Elections
You’ll be surprised to see how much of politics is really marketing
Democracy makes marketing relevant in politics. Today, there is no politics without marketing. But some play dirty marketing. It is all about tricking the human psychology. And it works! Let me show you.
Politics is easier today than ever. Of course, not everybody can run for a political office and win. But if you are a kingmaker and a smart marketing tactician, you can sell the crowd candidates and win 70% of the time.
The only catch is that you have to know which candidates to sell to the public. Getting the votes to win is the easiest thing in the world as long as you have selected the right person to run. And of course, you have to play your campaign wisely.
People vote irrationally in democratic elections. But if you ask them, they will say otherwise. If I conduct a survey to know why people vote, my results are going to be total rubbish. This is because people will defend themselves. And lots of people have tried this. I am often amazed at the defense people put up.
People will give logical answers when you ask them who they would vote for. They will often get into policy debates. But if you are knowledgeable and you dig deeper, they really don’t know about those policies. Their opinions are shaped by popular narratives and news headlines. And those are also the results of marketing, by the way.
Voters really don’t care about things like foreign policy. The news media makes them want to care. So they build up narratives based on the policy jargon to either make you love the person in office, or hate that person. And yes, that is what the media does now — picks sides.
Personally, I don’t like democracy. It is too easy to be rigged. I don’t believe in the past systems of government either. I believe the world is due for a new system. This is because the candidate that wins in a democracy is not the best candidate for the job, but the candidate that has the best marketing campaign.
You don’t believe me? Let me show you seven factors that determine who people vote for. These are real-life secrets that can make you win an election, even if you are not the best candidate.
1. What the Candidate Agrees With
This is the core of every campaign, and it has nothing to do with the competence of the candidate. Why do you think the candidates talk about their lives? Why do you think they share a lot of information about their growing-up years?
Smart campaign strategists know that contesting an election is not about who has the best know-how. It is about building a connection with the audience. It is about creating multiple points of agreement between you and the people.
This is why they talk about their love for sports, their favorite drink, their passion for the environment, their college life, and many more. Some candidates even go as far as drawing out compassion by talking about their near-death experience, a significant loss, and so on. They are building a connection with the audience. In the end, the audience would be so connected that not voting the candidate would feel like a betrayal.
If you want to run for office, what you agree with is more important than what you plan to achieve. And to hack this is very simple. Find out what the people strongly agree with (where their emotions are invested), and publicly agree with it! Whether you truly agree with it in your heart is not so important. It’s what you say that gets the votes.
Crazy, but true.
2. Who the Candidate Associates With
This is the reason candidates seek endorsements. In most countries, this is often the killer move. If a candidate identifies and associates with the right people, it will result in a win.
But the people you associate with must be people who are relevant in politics and powerful enough to sway votes in your direction. Just be seen publicly with them, make them say good things about you, and make them express their own personal support. The rest of the public is already won over by that.
This can only backfire if you have been too much in the spotlight prior, and the public can tell that you are just trying to gain their trust. This is why when kingmakers want to install a person to a political office, they look for someone who has not been in the spotlight too much. That’s because it would be easier to shape the narrative that gets to people. But if people already have their own versions, it becomes hard.
Politics is not a game of changing people’s minds. If you want to change people’s minds with politics, then you will certainly lose. That is because the more you make it adamant to people that they are wrong and you are right, the more they dislike you as a candidate. They may like you later, but not at the point when you are changing their minds.
In most places, you can tell who is going to win an election by the number of political influencers behind a candidate.
And this is what the whole idea of a political party is centered on. It doesn’t matter if the candidate dropped down from the sky the previous day — if the candidate is in the unpopular party in that area, state or country, the chances of winning are close to zero. Except if the next point is in favor.
Associate with the right people and people will assume you are the right man for the office.
3. The Past and Outgoing Tenure in Office
I consider this to be the most powerful marketing strategy. This is about timing. If the public is angry about the outgoing tenure in office, it’s very easy for the incumbent — or who the incumbent endorses — to lose. Smart people who want to break the status quo use this principle to win elections.
If the candidate has been fantastic in office and going for a second term, it is very dangerous to run against such a candidate. The reason is timing. I believe President Donald Trump won the U.S. elections in 2016 based on this. He had shown interest in previous election years but pulled out. The secret of his victory was in the timing of his candidacy. Of course, it took a lot of hard work, too, but the core was the timing.
If the timing is not in your favor in politics, you can hardly win anything. In the 2008 U.S. elections, the winner was obvious to me even before the parties chose their flagbearers. One party was a kind of continuation of the incumbent, the other was getting people excited about making history — it was either going to be the first black president or the first female president. People were pretty much pumped up about that then. The timing was great, although the core that made the victory is in the next point.
No candidate wins any election at bad timing.
4. What the Candidate’s Words Feel Like
President Obama is a gifted orator. His words have what is invented in people’s minds as a “presidential feel.” Can that single-handedly win an election? All other things being equal, yes, it absolutely can! As I said, it’s all marketing.
The amazing thing about this is that it has nothing to do with the capacity or capability of the candidate to perform. If you cannot move an audience with speech, it will be very difficult to win anything. When the words of a candidate captivate people, they become carriers of the message in the words.
This factor alone cannot win an election for a candidate. But when two candidates go head-to-head and all other things seem equal, this is often the difference-maker. This is also the vehicle with which the candidate expresses his points of agreement with the audience. A good orator can build more connection with the audience and hence win their hearts.
It matters how people feel when the candidate speaks.
5. Who the Candidate is Running Against
This is pretty obvious. Everybody has biased opinions one way or another. That’s very useful in politics. In the end, most people often get to choose between the lesser of two evils. No candidate is perfect. But there is always one that they hate more than anything.
Consider this — some would rather vote for an actual rat to win a political office than a human being they detest. That’s human psychology for you. So, sometimes it’s not because people love the candidate they voted for, but because they hate the other candidate enough to put their vote on the opposing candidate.
This has been a tactic used to defeat incumbents in many countries. Make them hate the incumbent, and they will vote for you even if you say that you will turn the moon into candy and make the clouds rain honey. The people will create a logic for themselves to defend their support for you. But in their hearts, they only voted for you because they don’t want the other person to win.
I know presidential elections in some countries that were won solely on this premise. Just create distrust or an anchor of hate in a candidate’s direction, and everybody will rally around in the other direction.
However, this is only effective when gross incompetence has been demonstrated by the candidate. If a candidate is getting good results and making great calls, it will turn into a battle of ideology. And the candidate with results always wins that battle. People can be sold by marketing, but people aren’t stupid either.
There is nobody that wants to say they voted for a candidate because the marketing was good. When it becomes obvious that everything done is a marketing ploy just to win elections, people lose trust (if their emotional buttons haven’t been pushed too far). Everybody expects each candidate to do some form of marketing. Campaigns are basically marketing. But campaign skills are different.
If there is significant (and justifiable) hate for your opposition, people will vote for you in mass.
6. What the Candidate Looks Like
Believe it or not, looks matter. There was a story of a man who became president because a “kingmaker” saw him and said that he looks like a president. Everybody knows that looks can be deceiving, yet it shapes our first impression more than anything.
People get fooled by looks a lot. If the candidate is also a gifted orator, it will only take the wrong timing or lack of political support for a candidate to lose. Of course, this works only when the public is just getting to know the person. The good looks work for first impressions.
This is why there are more males in politics (around the world) than females. It is not because females are marginalized or there is a case of some of the “-isms”. It is basically about an image. It is called image marketing. People who are females have not been known to have such responsibilities and positions. Hence, it is difficult to change the notion of the public.
Remember the thought expressed earlier about changing the notion of the public? It just doesn’t work in politics. It takes a long time, and eventually, it’s someone else that reaps the benefit of all the hard work. People only vote for a public image they are comfortable with or that they approve of. They can applaud someone trying to change their minds but they don’t throw their votes behind such a person. At least, not immediately.
The candidate should look like a president. I remember a presidential election in an African country where a candidate who has never been seen in a suit and tie dressed up for the posters. The sight was very compelling, I must confess.
Look like a president, and people will suddenly feel like you are perfect for the job. Look like a governor, and people will assume you are the right person for the job.
The look also involves gestures, posture, and body language.
7. Where the Candidate Is From
This is also very similar to timing. Whether you like it or not, people keep a score of where past political winners are from. For example, if the previous president was from a particular state and you are from the same state, you are unlikely to win. This is because people from other places would begin to feel cheated (even if they are not).
If you come from the same area as the previous person in the political office, it is important to find a way to spin that. Perhaps you could spend time in another area to become one of “them” long before election time comes. There is always a kindred spirit that people associate with political ambitions.
It is the sentiment that people will always vote for their own. And their own will always deliver for their community. In reality, this is often not the case. But people still assume it and continue to believe it. They believe if an area has enjoyed having a presence at a political office, another area should have that privilege the next time. This is not in any rule book, but many countries follow it.
There is no right place to come from. But there can be a wrong place to come from at a particular time. The candidate just feels off, and the public looks for someone else.
Who we vote for in elections is all about who we feel is right. I have seen better candidates lose elections. I have seen incompetent candidates win elections.
Winning an election is not about winning the argument. It is not about who dazzled in the debate. It is never about who has the best policies. All that is to create the logic that will back up people’s decisions.
Winning an election is all about who strikes the right note in the hearts of the people. And that can be gotten right through marketing. If you have reasons to argue, think about this for a minute:
Emotion is more powerful than logic.
I rest my case