September 16, 2014

The thought for today is rules. Learn the rules and make them work in your favor. Your understanding of how the game has been constructed will most definitely foil your rivals.

Do not lie. This is the golden rule. A truthful answer never has to be retracted or reworked. It will be challenged by your opponents, but your position is always in explaining rather than defending.

The interesting part come is the grey area. By knowing the rules inside out, you have the ability to work them in your favor. As in a child’s board game, you will be accused of cheating, but the reality is, if you are living to the rules, you are correct and they will appear as spoil-sports. If you can do any action that is within the rules, do it unhesitatingly. By creating havoc, you control the play. If you are correctly astute, they will think twice about challenging your authority in the game’s rules. Once burned, twice learned, you hope.

Your opponents will grouse, but it never really can be an issue because you are within the rules. An over-reliance on this “unfair” argument will make your opponents into sore losers, a position they would most certainly wish to avoid.

As to the arguments, consider it this way, if, for example, they major party candidates could find a quirk in the law that would allow them to get additional campaign funds, they would take it without question. The problem is that they were unprepared and are trying to make you feel that you do not belong in the race because of a “loophole” in the law. The law is the law.

No matter how it turns out, your close reading of the law makes you appear more astute than those making the unfair argument. The bottom line is that they are at fault for not understanding the rule or that they not bright enough to recognize its existence. A win-win for you.

Another advantage of knowing the rules is that you can play by them with little concern as to whether or not you are violating them. Read the election laws. Read the Federal and State Constitutions. These are the basic documents from which all arguments should be tested against. Know where power emanates from and form your opinions based on that foundation.

While I said clearly, do not lie, there is a nice grey area that should never lie fallow. This is in perception. Always dress appropriately. Always attempt to create positive backdrops when being photographed. Always attempt to make an impression that you are larger than you are. If you violate these basic rules, do it on purpose. For example, my long hair and beard. Bad visual, for sure. But, in a low budget campaign, I am a walking billboard. There may be some advantages to violating the basics, and, if so, use them.

Observations are highly subjective. The mind plays tricks on us. Use them to your advantage. Here’s a small one. When we had a campaign vehicle in the 1994 gubernatorial campaign, I went to Benny’s and bought a big stick on number “4” to put on the bus. Did we have four busses? No. If asked, would I say we had four busses? No. By putting the number prominently on the bus, there is a mental perception created that there at least four busses in the fleet. Reality is that I just named the bus number 4.

LESSON TEN: Never say anything other than what you know to be the truth. Don’t volunteer, but never lie. Know the rules and use them to your advantage. Think creatively within the rules. Outside the box thinking, while at first will be resisted, will ultimately show people you can think beyond the situation. This is particularly helpful when people are searching for alternative solutions and your opponents are offering more of the same old, same old. Act big, stay grounded.

In debates and forums, it is always a good idea to get a sense of the ground rules. Some will provide them in advance, others will set them just before the meeting. Do not let anyone other than yourself negotiate these rules in that you need to understand them first hand.

Try to be extremely aware of every word. You will make an occasional slip in the delivery. It happens when you are thinking on your feet. Usually, such is not important, but your opponents, when you get close to victory, seize on your every word.

Here is a case in point, yesterday, when speaking of my party affiliation as always being unaffiliated, I knew in the back of my mind that I had once been a member of the state recognized Cool Moose Party and therefore, was not always unaffiliated. I wanted that point in, but forgot to mention that in either my first or second time voting, I did vote in a Democrat primary in the late 1970s or early 80s. I disaffiliated after voting. In short, the conversation never allows you to fully explore a subject, and it will be taped. Your opponents will try to make you look like you are hiding a fact, when the reality is that you could not fully speak. Beware of such and practice answering complicated questions with short answers.

As to the latest, the Republicans seemed to have taken the bait. They have objected to my candidacy. It was a calculated move on our part to draw the objection. Coming to the campaign with no money, we had to get as much earned media as possible. There was a decent bet that someone would object to the candidacy and this would give press coverage.

The bet was a good one on our part. We are with little downside risk (an outside candidate gets the boot from the ballot), but the objector runs an extreme risk (if they lose the objection they will have both provided me with free publicity and they will look bad along the lines of sore losers). They put it all on red.

The lawyer in me tells me that the objection may have problems. I would have expected more in it, but it may be enough to get them through. You never can tell in a political/legal matter in Rhode Island. Still, I have strong legal arguments on my side and look to present them, in a public hearing.

While I would really like to provide the legal arguments here so that we can all share in the strategy, however, since it is a legal matter rather than a political one, I must request patience in the reader (it is only one day) and it will most likely be written out today for publication at the time of the start of the hearing. In short, I will provide our strategy at or about the time of the hearing itself (while I am actually presenting it).

Today the new development requires I spend time assembling our case. It is an interruption, but it is one that could make or break the candidacy. At times like this, you must be flexible. The idea is to always operate a campaign in triage mode.

And, in the meantime, continue with the daily business. I have several appearance offers as well as an invitation to the State of the State debate, which, I accepted “subject to Mr. Smiley’s approval, of course”. Never lose your sense of humor. If you believe you are right, you will have no problem rolling with the punches.

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