Silver Bullets can kill more than one werewolf at a time.

I wish I could remember the source of this quote. It was told to me many years ago, and it's a political truism that's all too accurate:
"In politics, you have what we call silver bullets. Politicians can only take so many hits with them before they're dead. The problem is, you don't know how many hits you can take. You also can't tell what a silver bullet is until after it hits you."
In a comment to one of my last posts, Erin so accurately made a point, which made me think of my days as a younger GOP political operative. She observed from her side of the aisle:
Have you noticed how heavy the role "interns" or people in that generational group play in campaigns and politics? For campaigns they are hired, largely from out-of-state, and given much responsibility and authority. They are exceptionally energetic, and they work cheap. Mostly because they see the campaigns as pathways to larger things. But they are young and given to the ravages of youthful egotism: brash, blissfully ignorant, presumptuous, and vulnerable to near-fatal sieges of self-importance.

Good campaigns are matters of applying knowledge, not dreaming up clever tricks, which the intern-age think is the way to fame and political fortune.
Yup. And I was guilty of it too. In your young campaign operative days, you are so fired up with competitive energy that you don't notice the fact that some of what you're trying to do is useless, stupid, or might bring down the campaign you're working on. You are convincd that you can find that silver bullet to bring your opponent's campaign to a crashing and devastating halt from which they will never recover.

Nope. Ain't going to happen.

My realization came about 15 years ago when I was doing research trying to find if a fairly liberal State Representative was a member of the ACLU. It was a time when that affiliation was proof positive and physical documentation that someone was a dastardly liberal! While I was doing this, a long time GOP donor, sponsor and activist stopped me in the corridors of the state capitol and asked me what I was researching, and I told him. It was a lesson I'll likely never forget.

If I recall correctly, his fatherly advice went something like... "What in the F*** are you doing that for!?! That doesn't mean shit. You aren't going to beat them with stupid shit like that! Go spend your time doing something worthwhile like checking the voting records, goddammit!" ..and so on.

Yeah, getting openly cursed at in the halls of the capitol during session was pretty harsh advice coming from someone who wasn't my boss, whom I could have easily told to take a jump in the lake. But he was 100% right. ACLU card? Really, who cares? The average voter really doesn't give a rip. You have roughly 25% of people who will vote for each party no matter who they run. 25% Republican, 25% Democrat. It's that remaining 50% who you're trying to convince to go your way, and they are generally not swayed by that which sways the true believers.

You aren't going to win looking for the silver bullet. Just like the politician themselves, you can't tell what a silver bullet is, until after it hits.

It's a matter of doing the research, slogging through voluminous records, and finding things that might be legitimately effective in a campaign. It's doing the work that builds your candidate up to peak on election day. I worked on a campaign in the last few years where there was literally no research available into the opponent's past. The election was won by just running a better campaign, and talking about our own issues.

If you're hellbent on looking for an issue that you're convinced is a silver bullet, you also might end up with an issue which is so offensive to the voter that they lash out at your campaign for bringing it up in the first place. I was watching Primary Colors on AMC the other night, and if you recall, they had discovered that an opponent was a bisexual cokehead in his past. Imagine that issue coming out in a South Dakota campaign. Aside from fatally smashing the opponent, you would end up fatally smashing yourself.

Take the lesson from the Kirby/Barnett/Rounds race. Of course you saw that ad noting that a company that Kirby's investment company had invested in was buying and selling skin cells from dead people for plastic surgery. And that burn victims were dying because they didn't have the skin that was going to people getting collagen injections.

When that ad aired, there was a collective statewide "Oh My God" uttered. If you've ever watched campaign commercials from other states, on the spectrum of campaign commercials, there are a lot worse ones. But for South Dakota where seldom is heard a critical word - it was a harsh introduction to big state political ads. And because of that ad, among other things, it put the voters in a punishing mood and the rest is history.

You aren't going to win looking for the silver bullet. Just keep saying it to yourselves. And realize you are going to get your firewood faster by chopping down a tree than expecting it to be hit by lightning.


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