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The Republican Guide to Campaigning - Silverhill's Lair
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The Republican Guide to Campaigning
The icon was created especially for this post. Read on to see how it comes into play. I'm posting this publicly for now, but I might friends-lock it at some point. Enjoy!

This is a follow-up to the 2004 Silverhill's Guide to Winning an Election You Really, Really Didn't Deserve to Win — now updated to reflect the latest strategies and harnessing the power of the Internets! (With handy hyperlink thingys that we encourage you to click on!)

So you* have run for president before, and it wasn't that successful? Don't worry! There's nothing at all wrong with you as a candidate, and there's nothing wrong with your politics. You just weren't the anointed one. Now you are. Your only problem in 2000 was trying to overcome the Republican machine. (Here's a hint: It can't be overcome.) But this year you're backed by the Republican machine. Welcome! Now that you aren't swimming against the tide, it should be smooth sailing from here (and all sorts of other mixed metaphors!).

We assume that you're familiar with the 2004 guide. All of those principles are still in play. Make sure you know them. But just to make sure, we'll repeat the most important guidelines.

Silverhill's Guide to Passively Winning an Election
or
Playing Your Cards Right: Your Guide to Campaigning Against Your Opponent Without Having to Do Much
or
Get Voted into Office by Stupid People!


The three main principles still apply: Spin. Lie. Capitalize. Now, you may ask, how do I use them? That's the wonderful thing about spinning, lying and capitalizing — they are much easier and much more effective than having good policies, reasonable criticisms of your opponent or great speeches. In the end, pettiness and falsehoods will get you where you want to be.

Let's start with a couple of things that are outside of your control.

Your Opponent
Sit back and watch while the Democrats have a contentious, divisive primary. Half your work is done for you. Watch as your Democratic opponent (whichever one it turns out to be) is torn down by another Democrat! You don't even have to open your mouth in criticism until the nomination is sewn up and the Democrats try to unite behind one candidate. We hate that part, but it's inevitable. But the upshot for you is that some voters will be so disgruntled by their candidate's loss, that they'll vote for you out of spite!

Hope your opponent runs an ad that initially appears to be a car commercial (one of those ones where car or oil companies pretend to care about new sources of energy). They wasted money on a bland and confusing ad, which can only help you.

Be Who You Are
What's better than being a veteran or war hero? Being a former Prisoner of War! POW! Plus it looks like a great sound effect from a comic book. And that makes people think of Superman when they think of you. People love Superman. Maybe now's the time to get that 20-something intern to Photoshop your head onto Superman's body and spread it around the Internets like one of those viral LOLcats things that are so cool. Yeah! Then your web site might start getting more hits. In fact, our numbers show that if you can get onto icanhascheezburger.com, you don't even need to buy any more TV ads. Stop hugging babies and start hugging cats.

Ahem... where was I? Oh yeah, being a former prisoner of war. And you just happen to be one! Well done you! This is a major asset. It's better than endorsements or smart policy or good ads. Being a former POW means you are above reproach. This is accomplished in two ways.

First of all, being a veteran automatically means you know more about foreign relations and the military than your opponent. Your opponent never served. Sure, he was too young to have fought in Vietnam. But you can still cast him as anti-military as a result. He didn't serve, so he can't know much about the military or foreign relations. You did serve. Therefore, you are an expert in the military. People like simple logic. Just make the most ludicrously simple connections you can, and the voters will reward you for it.

Second, being a former-POW means you get to play both the Pity Card and the Patriotism Card (two in one!). People will feel bad for you. You suffered. You had a worse time than your opponent did. And when voters suffer, they'll believe you can relate. (Don't worry. You don't have to do any actual relating.) Also, having been a POW means that you are patriotic and love your country. You were imprisoned because you were American. Being a POW — heck, drop the "former," so it sounds more immediate and tragic — also allows you to play the Get Out of Jail Free Card.** If you get criticized on any issue, your POW status can get you out of the scrape. For example, did you say you can't remember how many houses you own? Just remind people that you "lived in one house for five and a half years — in prison." Voila! Nobody can touch you unless they want to be unfeeling and unpatriotic.

Your POW status might be something that happened to you, but — damn! — you couldn't have planned it better if you tried. Instant win. Woohoo!

Now onto the things that are a little bit trickier. Unlike the opponent and POW points above, some aspects of the campaign aren't automatic wins. But they're still easy tactics. Just remember to lie, spin and capitalize.

And a new one ...

Steal.

Theft is Good (in other words: "Me too! Me too!")
Your opponent seems to be pretty popular because he's promising CHANGE. *#@$! &*#@! ... Hold on! Don't get too worried. Did you know you can't copyright an idea? Forget the days of floating test balloons. Let your opponent do the floating. If any of his campaign ideas really resonate with the voters, appropriate them for your own campaign. It will give you a boost while weakening his message. The "Change" message is really popular. So, you promise change, too. (Note: You don't actually have to institute change. Just talk about it.)

Here are some phrases you can use: "change," "less of the same," "not more of the same," "new," "throw out the entrenched liberals," (Note: Ignore the fact that Republicans controlled the White House, and both houses of Congress for six of the last eight years. "Entrenched" is a powerfully negative word.) "hope," (Yeah, steal that one, too.) "maverick," "a new deal," (Actually, you'd better leave that one alone.) "different," "even less of the same-old, same-old," "totally different from Bush, really," "maverick," (Repeated because this one is awesome! Use it as much as possible.) "a new vision," "a new Washington," and "LOLcats." (Okay, that's not really a synonym for change. But, damn, they're popular! Connecting your campaign to cute cat pictures can only help you.)

Negative Campaigning (aka Lying aka Voters Really Are That Gullible)
Here's another easy way to win without worrying about having to come up with positive attributes about yourself. Just say negative things about your opponent. And here's the sweet part: They don't even have to be true!

What do people not like? High gas prices. So, blame your opponent for them. High gas prices are his fault. "Vote for me = low gas prices. Vote for him = high gas prices." It's like offering people a choice between an ice cream cone and Tofurkey. It's a no brainer. (This analogy is especially apt because Democrats love Tofurkey and hate ice cream. I mean, who would be anti-ice cream? The same people who are anti-LOLcats.)

Your opponent also wants to raise taxes, has no relevant experience, lies, is unpatriotic, etc., etc. Yes, some people will know you are lying. These people are either a) your supporters, so they don't care or b) voting for your opponent anyway. But there's a huge group of people who can easily be swayed by lies, negative campaigning and petty political maneuvering. Have we mentioned how much you should love voter gullibility? Well, you should. It's awesome! People will believe what you say. They're not going to verify facts for themselves. Also, if you're ever caught in a lie, don't sweat it. That negative attack on your opponent was printed on the front page of a newspaper or was in a speech at a major rally. It got big play. The retraction is buried inside the newspaper or issued in tiny type on your web site. And nobody saw it.

More Power of the Internets!
There are some lies and negative campaigning that you can't do yourself. Fear not! Legions of uninformed people are willing to forward the latest e-mail about your opponent. People love e-mail forwards. They're a great source of truthful information. Your opponent is a Muslim, a terrorist, refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance, refuses to sing the national anthem, hates America, hates women, hates babies, hates ice cream, hates LOLcats, hates white people and (our favorite) is the anti-Christ. (1,070,000 Google hits can't be wrong!) That, folks, is the power of the Internets!

Another thing you can use is Photoshop. (Again, have a 20-something intern do this. Computers are a bit after your time.) You can edit photos to make it look like your opponent is holding the phone the wrong way! Hahaha!

Facing criticism that you're too old? Behold!

Before:


After:


Get rid of wrinkles. Smooth the skin. Darken the hair a smidge. (Yes, it looks goofy, but who cares?) Get rid of the old-guy earlobes. Leave the scar. (Sure, it's actually from skin cancer, but most people will assume it's a souvenir from the Commies when you were a Prisoner of War.)

Your Running Mate
People say the choice for vice president doesn't matter. They are wrong. People also say that voters are smart enough to see through such a transparent political ploy. They would be wrong, too. This is your chance to get some major polling numbers!

First, pick a woman. Second, well actually, you're done. That's it. Voters will come flocking to you.

By selecting an ultra-conservative woman, you have painted yourself as progressive while ensuring that women's rights remain in the dark ages. But people will ignore her politics and cheer you for nominating the first female Vice Presidential candidate. You are obviously very enlightened, progressive and pro-woman.

Ahem, sorry for that link. We don't know where that came from. Anyhow, the Democrats must not care about women anymore because they don't have a woman as VP candidate.

Your selection of a woman as a running mate allows you to play the Sexism Card. (This is a powerful one.) Your opponent and his VP pick cannot criticize your running mate unless they want to be portrayed as sexist and anti-woman.

As an added bonus, your announcement of your VP pick will have everyone talking about her and get everyone to forget about the frickin' amazing speech your opponent gave.

Er, sorry for that link. We'll try to get it taken down.

LOLcats
We mentioned this before, but the more you can tie your presidency to LOLcats, the better. And LOLcats aren't just cute. They can also be political. Observe how much more effective they are than campaign ads or convention speeches:





Spin (or, Massive Double Standards)
This is the logic that says an affair by a Democrat is a high crime while an affair by a Republican is a youthful indiscretion. And it can be applied in your campaign. For example: Your opponent is clearly "elitist" because he eats arugula. You are a man of the people despite the fact that you have more houses than you can remember. Another example: Your opponent is clearly underqualified and inexperienced. Your VP is well-qualified.

Here's an example of this in action:

(Side note: In the above video Wasilla is described as the second-largest city in Alaska. This is a perfect example of spin. You don't have to count Fairbanks and Juneau if it doesn't suit your purposes.)

And finally, as before, we would like to finish with a list of helpful hints.

Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Campaign (and Other Tips)
1. September 11 is yours to use. If your opponent mentions it, he is clearly exploiting the memories of the dead for political gain. 9/11 is the fault of Democrats. Preventing another 9/11 and fighting terrorism will only happen with Republicans. Feel free to use imagery from the attacks to promote your campaign.

2. The word "family" belongs to you. That means you and your supporters are pro-family and your opponent and his supporters are anti-family. (After all, who wants to be anti-family?)

3. "Patriot" and "patriotism." You own those words, too. And your opponent is unpatriotic. (And you are POW!)

4. "Puppies" and "kittens." Hey, why not? You're the pro-LOLcat candidate. Your opponent probably wants to ban them.

5. As a correlary to #3, you own the American Flag, too. Congratulations!

6. Unfortunately, your opponent owns the pretty imagery of trees and rainbows. We're working on that. You should be able to have trees any day now. Rainbows ... well, that might take a little more time.

7. Make sure to turn "community organizer" into a negative term. We're not sure yet why it's a bad thing, but I'm sure your VP pick can make it an epithet.

8. Also turn your opponent's popularity into a negative. This is pretty easy. Most Americans don't like to be branded as followers. It's the reason why, 10 years later after Titanic made $600,000,000 in the U.S. alone, 60% of Americans claim never to have seen Titanic and 80% of Americans claim they never liked it. They'll vote for you rather than follow the crowd in voting for your popular opponent. It's an election, not a popularity contest. (Theoretically, it is a popularity contest. However, Florida and Ohio demonstrate how easily popularity can be overcome.)

9. Your opponent wants to raise taxes and you want to cut them. It doesn't matter whether this is not true. It also doesn't matter whether you want to cut taxes only for billionaires and not for the average voter whom you are trying to dupe woo with the promise of cut taxes. Just keep repeating the mantra, "My opponent wants to raise taxes, but I want to cut them."

10. There are lots of numbers. Some of them will work for you! Example: Alaska has fewer people (47th) than Delaware. But... it is the biggest state by land area! So just call it the biggest state in the U.S. It makes Alaska sound more important than California or New York. Likewise, if you want to accurately claim you're working for the middle-class, just define middle-class as someone making less than $5 million a year. Voila!

11. Yet again proclaim to the world that you are a "maverick." This will overcome any accusations that you are like your predecessor.

* You = John McCain. Duh.
** This is not meant to be literal. But if you are ever faced with jail time, a reasonable competent lawyer should be able to convince the judge to sentence you to time already served in Hanoi.

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6 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
mr_bastian From: mr_bastian Date: September 10th, 2008 12:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I love you.
silverhill From: silverhill Date: September 10th, 2008 05:19 am (UTC) (Link)
:D

Thanks.
wej12 From: wej12 Date: September 10th, 2008 06:38 am (UTC) (Link)
This is a fabulous post. Your light tone and humor are perfect complements to your incisive wit and numerous valid points. This piece deserves wider publication.
yoicksandaway From: yoicksandaway Date: September 10th, 2008 12:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awesome post! Your points are simultaneously hilarious and insightful--half the time I couldn't tell whether I was laughing or crying as I read this.

I don't think McCain's completely cornered the market on the "Superman" association, at least:

obama_superman_awesome
silverhill From: silverhill Date: September 10th, 2008 02:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hee! That's awesome! :D
yoicksandaway From: yoicksandaway Date: September 10th, 2008 01:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and Happy Birthday! :)
6 comments or Leave a comment