I win in the coming elections?”
“Some say I am ‘winnable’, some say I am not. What do you think?”
Questions have kept coming in from several budding young public servants who say they intend to file certificates of candidacy for the May 13, 2019, elections. The filing period began last Wednesday and is set to close on the 17th of this month. As the election fever has been triggered by this event, the anxiety of these young would-be public servants about their chances of an election victory appear to have gone up a lot.
The two questions earlier mentioned are among the most common.
My usual answer: those are “wrong” questions.
I said there are two types of questions and it is important that a candidate knows which one is better. The first are questions that lead one to “doubt.” The second are questions that lead one to “do.”
Yes, there are “doubt” questions and there are “do” questions.
“Can I win?” is a “doubt” question. It will invite endless, useless “analyses” by so-called “political analysts” which usually flock around candidates during times like these. These “analysts” love to bury campaign teams into the quagmire of endless debates on “can we win.” I do not call this “analysis.” I call this “anguish.” “Anguish” is when the campaign team spends precious time wallowing in speculations that merely trigger fear.
“How do we win?” is the “do” question.
The fact is all candidates are “winnable.” All candidates can “win.” The manner with which they come up with the answers to the “How” is what makes the difference. It’s the game-changer.
Here are a series of useful “how” questions.
First, whose votes do I need and “how” do I get them?
Second, how do I make sure that those who will vote for me will vote on Election Day?
Third, how do I make sure that my votes are counted, canvassed, and credited to me?
These “how” questions also make sure that the candidate and his campaign team use their resources – funds, time, people, and energy – wisely. Any item or any activity that does not answer a “how” question would most likely be a waste of precious, scarce election resource.
The first “how” question is crucial. “Whose vote do I need?” is the beginning of campaign planning. There are three types of “votes”: the “command” vote, the “strategic” vote, and the “free market” vote. Here’s a simple explanation for each. The “command” vote comes from people who should naturally be voting for the candidate – friends, relatives, neighbors, partymates, church-mates, partners in mission. They should require the least expense and should be expected to help multiply campaign efforts.
The “strategic” vote comes from a person who, when won over by a candidate, can bring in more votes on the basis of following, influence, or political clout. This is a “cost-effective” and “cost-efficient” vote since one vote would translate to thousands more.
Then, there is the “free market” vote. This has emerged as the more powerful vote these days, particularly due to the advent of the era of information technology and social media. The “free market” vote comes from one who has his own mind, own will, and own sources of information. The “free market” voter understands his own aspiration and looks for a candidate who he feels would be relevant to it. He sets criteria and standards and weighs the political contenders on the basis of these.
The “free market” vote is where most of the resources should go. There are three things that the wise use of campaign resources should accomplish in this “free market.” First – to make sure the candidate is known and is able to engage that sector. Second – to help the candidate win “preference,” to be “chosen.” Third – to make sure the candidate’s name is clearly remembered.
A “choice” does not become a “vote” until it is cast on Election Day. “Preference” has to be converted to “recall” to make sure that it becomes a vote.
I encourage young candidates to focus on the “free market” vote. I am sure someone else in the campaign team would be taking care of the “command” and the “strategic” vote. The experience of engaging the “free market” vote is crucial. It is this engagement that humbles the candidate. It is here where he gets to strengthen his conviction about his promise and platform. This is where he gets to test his ability to communicate clearly and inspire others to adopt and support his public service advocacy.
Knowing that a lot of young people, including those of the millennial generation, have filed certificates of candidacy. They will have a first-hand taste of democracy. The campaign experience would both be exhilarating and humbling for them. It’s worth the investment. With this experience, they will know better the aspirations of others.
They will also get to know themselves better.
That will bring them to the ultimate campaign question: Now that I know myself better, would I vote for me?
Good luck to our young future public servants.
* For feedback, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or send it to #4 Horse Shoe Drive, Beverly Hills Subdivision, Bgy. Beverly Hills, Antipolo City, Rizal.