Don’t Fall Into the Trap—No Specifics

author
Dr. Louis Perron
blog post louis

Journalists and voters alike will always ask a political candidate to be specific in his proposals. To be specific sounds really appealing, generally speaking. My advice is however very clear—don’t fall into the trap. There is no guarantee that voters will like your specifics.

And there’s no need for elaborate policy papers to win elections. Voters want to know where a candidate stands. It’s therefore good to have a few concrete proposals and statements to highlight your positioning. It’s even better if those proposals are carefully tested in focus groups to make sure that they match the political demand of your target audience. Elaborate policy plans, however, only make you vulnerable to attacks.

Commentariolum Petitionis is the first campaign manual known in human history. Quintus Tullius Cicero supposedly wrote it for his brother Marcus Tullius Cicero who campaigned for consulship in the late roman republic. Among others, his advice apparently was to give emotional speeches but to avoid specific positions. Little has changed in that respect since then.