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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Immutable Rules

So, when Reid Wilson, the newest Post political reporter, penned a column entitled “The Five Rules of Politics” we were intrigued — to say the least. Here are Reid’s five rules: 1) He who understands the rules will win 2) All politics, and politicians, are local 3) The uber-strategist is a myth 4) The only constant is change 5) Campaigns matter.
Reid’s right. But five rules isn’t nearly enough! Below are five more. Got some of your own? Let’s hear them. We want to build a standing “Fix Rules of Politics” post.... 
1. Money is most things…but not everything.
2. ….and no swing voter cares about campaign finance reform.
3. Candidates matter.
4. No politician goes to Iowa by accident. NONE.
5. Saying “no” to a race doesn’t mean you aren’t running
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In response to the request, I offer five more rules:

1.  Politicians' positions on institutional and procedural issues depend on whether their side wins or loses. The party holding the White House supports "our president." The other party wants to curb "abuse of executive power." The minority party in a legislative chamber wants careful deliberation and protection of minority rights, such as the filibuster.  The majority party wants to stop obstructionism and make the trains run on time. Either party backs "states' rights" when the states do stuff that it likes.
2.  Negative stories about politicians draw on their enemies' oppo guys.  Fred Thompson put it best: "People may think that news organizations have legions of Woodwards and Bernsteins fanned out across the country, poring through old courthouse records or public business records and talking to anyone they think may have some dirt to dish on a candidate. They don’t. They don’t have the money, for one thing. No, the days of Woodward and Bernstein, intrepid investigative reporters, are over. Investigative reporters have been replaced by people who keep a big basket under the transom to catch the dossiers and other materials that the various campaigns drop on opposing candidates."
3.  Most Americans don't know diddly about politics.  People know who the president is.  That's just about the only bit of political knowledge that we can count on.  This rule is important to remember in the interpretation of poll results because people will express an opinion even when they know nothing about the issue.  Surveys have shown that they will answer questions about bills and laws that do not even exist.
4.  Ghostwriters produce most of the words that come from politicians.  Sometimes, the pols don't even read them. For instance, Trent Lott's memoir, Herding Cats, contained so many factual errors that it's hard to believe that he bothered to review the manuscript that his ghost produced.
5.  Lawmakers don't read the bills.  As Stan Lee would say, "`Nuff said."