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Political Participation: How To Win An Election In An Alphabetical Order

Updated on March 11, 2018

We Are All In This Together

Politics is about leadership and participation in the affairs of the state. To that end, it is important to note that human beings by nature are leaders and politicians. Young or old, rich or poor, religious or non-religious, white or black, we all have at one point or another exhibited some level of leadership and participation in the affairs of our family, community and country--willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or unknowingly.

Furthermore, people across the globe participate in the affairs of the state differently, depending on their places of responsibility in their family, community or country. There are those who participate quietly, and there are those who participate openly. Either way, we are all in this together. Whether we are running for student guild president or student leader, youth league president, women's league president, any religious positions, local council chairperson, community organization leader, political party chairperson, member of parliament, or president of a country, we all need a strategy to make us sail through and realize our vision. In addition, different people use different strategies in the pursuit of their visions and dreams, and there is not a single right or wrong strategy. In my opinion, the best strategy is the one that works to help one achieve his or her vision. Here is the step-by-step strategy I have used in the past that has worked for me. If it works for you, utilize it. If it doesn't work for you, ignore it or share it with a friend.

A=Answer The Initial Questions:

Managing a political campaign is like managing a business, an organization (nonprofit or for profit), a project or a social event. This requires one to have a vision, objectives, and principles upon which to base his political activities. Before one sets foot on the campaign trail, some questions need to be answered: What is your vision? How are you planning to achieve your vision? Why do you want to pursue that vision? When do you plan to achieve that vision? Where are you going to get the necessary resources (human and capital) to help you achieve your vision?

B= Bridle Your Temper Against Social Media

Politics, like misery, makes strange bedfellows--borrowing a line from William Shakespeare's play, The Tempest--"misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows." As strange as the relationship between social media and politicians may seem, they need each other in order to function effectively. Social media is one of the avenues through which one can send and receive information timely and with little to no cost. So, politicians should not just read Facebook, twitter or WhatsApp messages, but also, they should try to join a social media platform so that they can share and contribute ideas that are pertinent to the growth and development of their families, communities and countries.

C=Conduct Research:

Before one gets on any campaign trail, it is important that he or she gather reliable information about the issues that affect his or her constituency. Research helps to: build one's knowledge of politics; equip one with the knowledge of issues and concerns for his community; disapprove lies and distortions engendered by opponents; address issues opponents have no knowledge of; make it possible to work with credible and valuable information; and enable one find appropriate solutions to identified problems.

D=Detect Saboteurs:

Saboteurs can place an onerous burden on your political campaign. Some of them may be internal, others may be external. In any case, they all perform the same functions: subversion--undermine your power and authority; obstruction--impend the progress of your campaign; disruption--interrupt your events or activities with gossips and distortions; destruction--may damage equipment you use for your campaign to curtail your progress. It is important therefore for one to do a risk assessment before choosing campaign agents to ensure that saboteurs are eliminated from his or her political campaign.This can be done by conducting background checks; formulating a code of conduct; enforcing rules and regulations; increasing the security of humans and property; and thinking ahead by putting in place a disaster emergency management plan.

E=Evaluate And Evolve:

After gathering informative data, the next step should be to evaluate yourself and your opponents' strengths and weaknesses. There are many strategies that can be utilized to help one achieve his or her goal. One of the strategies is to conduct a SWOT analysis (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). What do you see as your strengths and the strengths of your opponents? What, in your assessment, are your weaknesses and the weaknesses of your opponents? What opportunities do you see that can help you minimize your weaknesses and exploit the weaknesses of your opponent to win an election? What threats do you see that can truncate your progress? It is important to note that nothing is set in stone in politics. I agree with the saying that "there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies in politics." Be willing to evolve personally. If you are a person who is by nature rigid, intransigent, warmonger, unfriendly and unreliable, this should be the time for you to turn your attitude around and be approachable, reliable and friendly. Adjust your campaign based on what your opponent is doing successfully, and what you are doing successfully. Learn from your past mistakes and adjust accordingly. The strategy of character assassinating your opponents does not work anymore; otherwise, Donald Trump would not be the president of the United States of America today.

F=Formulate A Manifesto:

A manifesto helps one to declare his or her beliefs, opinions, motives and intentions. One doesn't need to share his or her manifesto publicly but can use it as a reference document to guide his or her campaign. Don't rely on your party manifesto. Such manifestos are full of high-sounding idioms that are difficult for a local person to understand. Your manifesto should have goals and objectives that are "SMART" (specific, measurable, attainable/achievable, reliable and time-bound).

G=Give Your Time And Money:

You would be surprised to find out how many politicians keep complaining about time and money: "I have no time," "when I get time I will call you," "I don't have the money to run for any political office." We hear these excuses all the time, but they are what they are: excuses. Remember, your electorates are your bosses. You have to find time to visit the elderly, contribute financially to schools, attend funerals, participate in community development programs and charitable activities and be present at local social gatherings. You don't have to contribute millions of dollars; contribute what is in you power to contribute. But contribute something. Don't just attend an event. Be present at the event. The best way to be present is to have your presence recognized. It's through participation and contributing in these activities that people will come to recognize your presence and know that you care about them.

H=Habit:

Verbal and nonverbal communications say much about an individual. However, as long as one's habit is not hurting others physically and mentally and he or she is able to defend the way he or she does things, let him or her go for it. For instance, I like to use proverbs to convey my messages; of course some people get offended by my proverbial language, but when they ponder my proverbs, they get to understand my messages. Proverbs provide comic relief and euphemism to neutralize a depressing situation so that the readers or listeners can address the issue at hand with a much deeper understanding. Be careful about your mannerisms.

I= Identify Grassroots Leadership:

Grassroots leaders are individuals without formal positions of authority but who are vital to one's political future. Grassroots leaders stimulate social change because they work to challenge the status quo. Sometimes they are not paid; sometimes they are volunteers who form their own social networks and operate from the bottom up. With the upsurge of social media, these members can create their own social media platforms and create communication content that they use to voice their opinions and concerns in order to influence social, economic and political change. Don't ignore them. Look for them.

J=Join Something:

Join a social group such as whatsApp, Facebook, twitter, choir, sports team or any associations. Being part of a social media group or association shows that you are not out of touch with the local population.

K= Know The Terrain:

It is important to know how many eligible voters you have in your constituency; how many electoral colleges or polling stations are in your constituency; the number of wards and villages in your district; the number of religious denomination; the number of schools and health centers; influential local political and religious leaders in your area; and the number of community organizations, (for profit and non-profit).

L= Latest Developments:

Stay abreast of the latest developments by connecting with the electoral commission, reading newspaper, listening to radio and TV programs, and checking you phone, email and other social media messages continually. When someone gives you a compliment, don't ignore him or her, appreciate the good comments and correct the misinformation, if any, in a polite and professional manner.

M=Mobilize Resources:

Financial resources are paramount if one has to win an election. All means necessary should be used to raise campaign funds from friends, relatives, benefactors, nonprofit and governmental organizations. The money should be entrusted with reliable and honest campaign agents. There are many campaign agents out there who are "career politicians" and who don't care whether you win or lose. If you put such money-minded individuals in charge of your finances, you are doomed to fail. I'm talking from experience. These people have a tendency to think about themselves first before they can focus on achieving your goals. Be wise with whomever you entrust with your campaign funds.

N=Nurture

Don't close the political door on young and upcoming leaders. Be available to nurture them and share with them ways through which they can grow to become good leaders. Unfortunately, sharing information and grooming young leaders threatens the status quo of some politicians. Being willing to share information portrays you as confident and reliable leader.

O=Organize:

Organize instead of agonize. I have seen some politicians spend their entire political career agonizing about how they have been mistreated by their opponents. Remember, how well one's campaign structures are organized can go a long way in attracting support and funding. All categories of people need to be represented on your campaign team--youth, women, elderly, religious, war and army veterans, teachers, businessmen and businesswomen, and political leaders at local and national level.

P= Protect Yourself At All Times:

Remember, anything can happen to you on a political campaign trail. Be careful with what you eat, where you sleep and the people with whom you interact at a personal and professional level. Make sure that security of your life and property is guarantee.

Q=Questions Must Be Asked:

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes it's through being a student and willing to learn from experts in politics that you will have a deeper understanding of how to run a successful political campaign. Don't be arrogant. Don't take yourself to know everything. Avoid being complacent. Sometimes behaving like an "underdog" shows humility and can earn you unexpected votes.

R=Read Something:

Find sometime to read-- bible, newspapers, magazines, electoral policy documents, constitution, and local government statutes--to be aware of your rights and duties as a citizen or candidate.

S=Stand For Something:

Stand for something through a "catch phrase" that encompasses your entire manifesto. Trump stands for "Making American Great Again," Hillary stands for "Stronger Together," Museveni stands for "Steady Progress," I stand for "Light of Bunyangabu." What do you stand for?

T=Teach:

Be courageous and willing to educate people on issues that affect their families and pocketbooks. This can be done at social events--funerals, church services, workshop and seminars.

U= Unique Approach:

People are tired of monotony. Use a unique but engaging approach to everything you do and evaluate your approaches on a daily basis to ensure that it resonates with the current political environment.

V=Vacuum Filling:

There are many empty spaces in the social, economic and political programs in our families, communities and countries. It is surprising how many politicians fight over one particular program as if they are on a popularity contest. If your opponent decides to work on repairing boreholes, focus on securing loans for small businesses. When you try to fill the void by using your finances to address other social and economic issues, people start to look at your as a leader rather than as another politician.

W=Write With Clarity:

Get into the culture of writing. Even if you have limited formal education or writing skills, you can still write something. You don't have to share what you write with the public. Write for yourself if you can. Writing helps you to remember things and organize your thought proccesses. Writing also helps you correct any lies, distortions and misinformation your opponents may throw at you. Further still, the confidence with which you write can show that you are knowledgeable about the world affairs and therefore the right candidate for the job.

X=Xerox:

Make several photocopies of your important documents--academic, employment, family and confidential--and keep them in a safe and secure place. There are many treacherous and dangerous politicians out there who will do everything in their power, including burglarizing your house and destroying your important documents, to ensure that you don't win an election.

Y=Yearbook:

Keep a visitors book in your office because you never know who might visit to support you.

Z=Ziplock Your Anger:

Don't get quick to anger. Never write anything and send on social media when you are angry. The public is constantly watching with an eagle's eye to see how steady emotionally you are in order to trust you with their votes. Obviously, your opponents are going to try to throw you in the mad; don't play along. Always be calm and respond to lies and distortions in a professional manner. Keep your temper in check.

It Can Be Possible

Running a successful political campaign is not easy, but it can be done if one has the will, the ability and the correct vision. Social media has revolutionized the way information is delivered, which has made many old political campaign strategies absolete. People can change in an instant. Information can be delivered or distorted in a split second. It is through utilizing social media appropriately and developing a winning strategy that our political messages can be sent and delivered to our intended audience timely and with little to no cost to allow us run a successful political campaign. No strategy is set in stone. Utilize the one that works for you.


The author, Dr. Vincent Womujuni, is a former lecturer at Makerere University. He is also a former MP aspirant for Bunyangabu County.

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