Translation of Excerpts from Robert Heinlein's Book, Take Your Government Away - Part 7
Chapter 4 The Art of Practical Politics: Local Party Organizations and Political Clubs
This chapter could have another name, for example: “How to stroke the heads of children” or “How to make friends and influence voters”.
Here I will try to describe the art of practical politics as dispassionately as car repair is described, and also moving away from all political trends, like a spring breeze. I will try not to impose my moral principles on you, but I will not advise on illegal or dishonest acts.
Politics is not a science, but an art. Art is imperfect, and not ironed, as chaotic as the floor of a storeroom littered with things. Its description can begin with anything and end with anything. And I will not be able to exhaustively describe everything, but confine myself to placing only a few guiding signs in the labyrinth of politics, indicating the places where you can get bogged down.
The first and most important rule - always remember that your goal is to win elections, not disputes. If you are guided by this principle, you will not go astray from the right path.
The second - they win the elections with the help of the votes, and these votes are not gathered in political and financial circles, political clubs, or at rallies, but at polling stations.
The third thing to keep in mind is that a vote in your favor will never become a reality unless an eligible voter comes to the polling station and votes. This rule, you need to mentally type in big red letters, provide a blinking backlight, and always keep in front of you.
Fourth - do not waste time arguing with those who have a different opinion that is different from yours. For the years I spent in politics, I can’t recall a single case when I managed to convince someone who had already made up their mind on a question or candidate, to vote differently than he intended. And yet, I know for sure that I influenced the election result, and sometimes even changed it with my actions.
How did i do that? By their deliberate efforts based on the first three rules that policy needs to be remembered, and respecting the ban outlined in the fourth of them. During the very first election campaign in which I participated, I was sure that the work of the agitator consists in going to the people and trying to convince everyone to vote for their candidate. I took down many pairs of shoes, met many interesting people, and learned a lot. However, I did not bring any benefit to our candidate, but rather even took away a certain number of votes from him. I hope there were no more than a dozen.
The fact is that the voter to whom you came to agitate, as a rule, has already decided who he will vote for - long before you come to him. This citizen, unless he is the rarest exception, made up his mind about the election, shuffling his existing set of prejudices and stereotypes. Oddly enough, he calls this process “decision making”. Now he has his own opinion based on stereotypes and emotions. If you try to refute this opinion of him, then this is likely to lead to the fact that the voter is angry. And to make a voter angry is the best way to ensure his appearance at the polls in order to vote against you.
By the way, some elections were brilliantly won by such a trick - the party of opponents was supplied with volunteers of the “wrong sort” who were ready to agitate the voters, they did not bring the votes to the candidate they worked for, but lost them because they campaigned aggressively and annoyingly. This is a dishonest trick, but it illustrates beautifully the old adage, which reads: “to make the pig go forward, you must drag it by the tail back”
How to get around voters
You should be dressed clean and tidy, friendly, and smile. In one of the pockets you have campaign materials. You are standing in front of a closed door, according to the voter list, Mr. and Mrs. Redking live behind it, both of them belong to your party. Ring the doorbell. After a seemingly endless pause, the door finally opens, you see Mrs. Redking. She is clearly not happy with your visit: a baby yells behind her, and the smells from the kitchen tell you that preparing dinner is in full swing. You are confused and upset, because it is very easy to be embarrassed in such a situation, but quickly regain your business spirit. Then you say, “Sorry, Mrs. Redking, it seems I have chosen the wrong time for the visit, sorry again,” and you begin to move away from the door. If she is a normal person, then at least she will ask, “What do you need?” Do not take this as an invitation to throw a long propaganda speech. No woman will want to talk with you for a long time when a potato is about to burn in her pan. Say: “I am Fred Glutz, representing the local political club of the Eastern branch of the Democratic Republican Party. We are conducting a survey, and we want to know your opinion about the upcoming elections. But I do not want to be imposed on your head at such an inconvenient time for you. Maybe I’d better leave you our materials and leave? ” You give her your campaign materials in her hands, and continue to back away. It is very likely that she will apologize for her busyness at the moment, and invite you to come one evening when her husband is at home. If she suggested this, then rather schedule an evening on which you will pay a visit. If she hesitates, say that you can come in the evening of the next day. If this does not suit her, ask if they can call and schedule a visit. If she agrees, do so. If she does not want your further visits, leave now and hope that you did not make her angry.
Let's try to go to the next house. Judging by the voter list, the Alcoholic family lives in it. You ring the doorbell and the door opens. A little dog runs out and starts to circle around your legs. You squat, scratch her behind the ear, and then smile at his mistress.
“What's his name,” you ask?
“Friend. Go to the house, my friend, do not bother your uncle! ”
“Yes, he doesn’t bother me. I myself had a dog very similar to him, but last year he was driven by a car ”(just tell the truth, there probably is something you can talk to the dog owner about). A dialogue like that continues until she asks why you came. You repeat to her the same thing that you told her neighbor. It turns out that her surname is not Alcoholicova, but Nadezhdin.
"In my opinion, people with that last name lived here before, but they moved somewhere."
You have attacked the gold mine! Now - take care! Find out which party it is in. If you can’t find out with leading questions, ask her directly. If she is not in your party, turn off the conversation, leave her campaign materials, if only she will take them, and, without arguing with her, leave. Just before that, do not forget to thank her for the time taken, and pet Friend, and then leave. If she is in your party, tell her that your political club is glad to see them in these places. Ask her if they have already registered with the local election commission, it often turns out that they have not done so. Then offer her your help in this matter, you yourself will contact the commission and ask her to register.
And then you do this:
First, invite her to a meeting of the political club, and make sure that an invitation is sent to her by mail. After that, ask if she should be helped to look after the child while she will vote. And also, whether it is necessary to send a car for her to deliver to the polling station. Even if she answers that she doesn’t need, anyway, prepare the opportunity by the election day so that if there are only a few hours left before the polling stations close and she has not yet voted, you could bring her to vote. Until she shows signs of boredom, continue the conversation with her. Discuss various political issues if she is not opposed, respectfully listening to what she says. Do not argue with her point of view. Let your similarity of opinions exceed the differences in them. However,
And before you call the next door, do not forget to write on the card for your card index everything that you learned about your new voter, and further actions that will need to be done in relation to him.
You just almost certainly got one, and maybe even two or three freshly baked voters for your candidate. And if this is the primaries, then the likelihood that you have increased the percentage of your candidate’s votes is even greater.
If you are lucky, you will find in the person of Mrs. Nadezhdina a new member of your political club. Perhaps, a little later, she herself will begin to bypass the voters, we will not make plans. But gold is found by those who seek it. Perhaps her husband will turn out to be one of those wonderful people who are ready to help a political organization by participating in paying for the cost of printing newspapers, or renting a room, even if he himself will not bypass the voters. He may turn out to be the owner of a gas station, a hairdresser, or some other professional who has exits to different strata of society useful for political work. But all this is ahead. All that you have received now is a possible pair of votes for your candidate. And do not sniff scornfully: the Great Wall of China is built of individual bricks. By the way, do not forget to write everything to your file cabinet, what did you learn about voters, including their dog’s nickname. When you send the Nadezhdin’s couple a typewritten invitation to a meeting of the political club, write by hand “How’s the Friend? Still happy with all the guests? ”
And now you have the next door in line. Mrs. Osnova, her son, and her daughter-in-law live behind her, as is written on the voters list. Well, it is, they have not moved anywhere, they live in this house. They are already on your side: your card index shows that usually they come to vote even in the primaries. Here your task is simple, you might not come - you think.
However, do not be so complacent. Even if voters are aware of the importance of voting, it is highly likely that one of these three vote holders will not vote in the primaries if you do not follow this and send the car for it when necessary. In addition, perhaps in their person you will find new members and new agitators for your club. So, beyond this door - new members and new agitators! So you should definitely ring the doorbell!
These are the main types of voters that you may encounter, although the variations are endless. You can stumble upon crazy people, single people who are ready to talk endlessly with you, thoughtful people who are ready to exchange opinions with you. Some voters will lead you into the living room and treat you to tea with muffins, others will treat you with suspicion and will not let you go beyond the threshold of their house. Surely, one day you will come across an undisguised rudeness, with which you will be shocked, and from which you will have sediment on your soul, and the fear of another equally sharp and boorish refusal. Do not allow yourself in such a situation to powerlessly give up and go home to lick emotional wounds. Go to a cafe, drink a milkshake, read humorous comics, in a word - get distracted. And then come back, and ring the next door.
In the process of working at a polling station, you will well recognize your fellow citizens, and this knowledge will inspire confidence in democracy, pride in the fact that you are an American and belong to human civilization.
All this will warm your soul and give confidence in the future of your country.
Part 1, where there are links to all other parts,