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Getting on Message

I’ve always been the guy who got involved in politics to figure out what the right answer is, to ask, “what should be done about X.”  But when I entered the CBC’s “Next Great Prime Minister” contest last fall, I was reminded that being right isn’t what politics is about.

When I was deciding what ideas to include in my platform video I went all out.  I started with a list of about two-dozen policies.  I wrote a long memo filled with pros and cons and potential endorsements.  I sent the memo around to friends for feedback and I weeded the policies down to a handful I really believed in.  That’s the stuff I’m really good at.

Turning those ideas into a simple, concrete persuasive message that I could fit into a 5 minute video was a virtual impossibility for me.  Aristotle once wrote that “It is simplicity that makes the uneducated more effective than the educated when addressing popular audiences” and I am by nature allergic to simplicity.

But to be really effective in politics, it is what you must do: crystallize immensely complex issues into simple ideas that that can be evaluated intuitively.  It is what I used to hate about politics – it seemed dishonest.  But I’ve since realized there is no other way to build support with large groups of people.  Even if you had the resources to give every potential supporter the ten minute version of the pitch – why should people give you that much of their time?

So I’ve been thinking about these issues for the last few months.  How can you use simple language and ideas to be really persuasive in a short period of time?  The reality is that the most compelling medium for simple ideas is video.  Videos engage the emotions in ways that writing doesn’t.  So I’ve been on the lookout for examples of persuasive videos.  I thought these two videos are pretty good examples:


What’s the most effective political message you’ve seen lately?


1 gabriel { 05.30.09 at 12:23 pm }

It seems you make a good case for the policy-analyst King. The question really is how accurately a demographic polity can distinguish the good from the bad within “immensely complex issues”. I demand a mixed constitutional order!

2 Christina Crook { 06.18.09 at 5:30 pm }

Great post, Hun!

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