How to Win Elections
by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
For a good many years I have looked at techniques which can win elections, but not found candidates whom I felt I wanted to give a boost into office.
Alas, that has continued to be the case. However, there is one technique which I am willing to share because
- It will greatly improve the electoral process itself,
- It will tend candidates toward more genuine public service almost regardless of initial disposition, and
- It will bring us back toward Jeremy Bentham's original case for democracy as people having a meaningful voice in the decisions which affect them. Also,
- It will enable government to draw on the deeper wisdom of the public, not the shallow and volatile polls. And,
- It will at long last introduce policy makers to effective, creative methods of problem-solving with which to address many of our issues of common concern.
Most of the other techniques I've been looking at would win elections a time or so and then their novelty would wear off. I remain reluctant to provide these to any of the candidates I've examined over the years. But this one, the one I'm about to outline below, I don't mind releasing to whoever wants to use it, because its use will improve conditions generally and for a long time. I'd like to have used it to propel a good candidate into office, but I got tired of waiting; and while I've been holding back, conditions have deteriorated. Hence this article, now.
I don't know how many reading this have participated in a really neat problem-solving session that was led by a skilled CPS facilitator (CPS = Creative Problem-Solving), but those who have, know what an entertaining, exhilarating, exciting and uplifting process that can be. Those of us who have led such sessions know how shockingly easy it is to do so. So here is what can be done:
In place of most political rallies and even town meetings, have participants in a facilitated problem-solving session, following a specific, even formal, CPS creative method. Attendees would be seated around tables. Each table would include a trained creativity facilitator (training doesn't take long I trained the facilitators for one highly successful colloquium in half a day). The main emphasis in the training of these facilitators would be building their ability to really hear and really listen. The function would dig deep into what the participating citizens really felt were the real issues, then idea-find, open-endedly, with the participants to find new and better answers.
Why this would win elections
- Candidates would necessarily be in much better touch with their constituents.
- Candidates would be accessing the deeper-held wisdom of the public instead of its shallowest transient and whipped-up wants.
- Participants would see their own ideas being genuinely considered, and be invested in the outcome.
- Facilitated group problem-solving sessions are inherently stimulating and enjoyable. People would come out of curiosity and return for the sheer pleasure of it.
- The public has tired of politicians hurling loud certainties at each other and will respond to leaders who genuinely engage in community search for fresh, workable answers to problems.
Also, political leaders who worked with the deeper wisdom of the public, instead of the shallow polls and focus groups, would be better identified with what the public wanted for the long haul.
As to good or bad politicians' taking advantage of the technique, I think that once the practice has taken hold some places, Darwin will sort things out. And even if bad political leaders are using it, see #s 1 and 2 above. The bad ones who use it will improve. And if the people who are responsible for (handling) our major problems were through this process increasingly equipped with effective, creative problem-solving methods.........
That is why I don't mind giving this particular election-winning technique away, whoever gets ahold of it (though I hope a head start can be made by such "good guys" as may remain). We've found a few other election-winning techniques, mostly at the local level, but never have found any candidates worthy of receiving that advantage. Some of them can be used only once or twice until the novelty wears off. So I am holding onto them in hopes of finding someone worthy to support, in order to make a difference there when the time comes. Meanwhile, here's the one technique, for whoever's got the savvy to grab this and use it. We'll see if it's enough to make a needed difference.
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