Here we go again. If you can handle my mid-Western whine, this video offers a detailed explanation on how candidate contracts can be used to weaponize the electoral campaigns of populist candidates. Or you can read the entire text of the presentation, which follows here:
In my last article, I talked about the ethical and political basis for introducing candidate contracts into our electoral process.
Now I want to address their practical application, specifically how the candidate contract becomes a powerful and decisive weapon on the raging battleground that our campaigns for public office have become.
Let me be absolutely clear at the outset. The candidate contract strategy can only be used to boost the effectiveness and accelerate the momentum of populist campaigns -- those which reflect the priorities and values of a majority of American citizens -- because the strategy is predicated on expressing the democratic will of that majority. Therefore, using the candidate contract for narrow, niche activism, or unpopular causes is a non-starter. In theory, candidate contracts can be drawn up for any reason, around any issue big or small. But they are only effective in attracting voter support if they reflect enormous popular support.
Having said that, making the candidate contract the centerpiece of a populist campaign can be decisive -- it can win elections.
It's crucial to recognize, the candidate contract by embracing a number of pivotal populist policies, then requiring focused and unwavering dedication by whoever signs the contract to inaugurate those policies, is not intended to constrain or control the 'good guy' populist candidate. These items are the things he or she would do anyway if elected. In fact, within each district the 'good guy' populist candidates themselves each tailor the contract for their particular constituents, literally designing the contract he or she can and will deliver on.
While my template lists eleven issues where vast majorities of Americans want decisive action, I recommend, that based on a familiarity and understanding of each local voting jurisdiction, only those "wedge" issues unique to a particular district and the campaign taking place there, be included in the contract for that district. It's hardly necessary or even productive to put an entire campaign platform in the contract. Less is more. Three to eight decisive issues is sufficient. Just enough to defeat the establishment opponents and assure victory.
For example, if the demographic is relatively older, Social Security and Medicare likely would be incorporated, whereas free college education may not be consequential enough to include. If the demographic is young and working class, most likely the $15 per hour minimum wage clause should be adopted. And so on.
The 'good guy' populist candidate must know where the voters stand, and fashion his or her candidate contract accordingly. Specifically, he or she is looking for those pivotal, high-visibility issues which have major voter support, but are not championed by the opposition candidates! If an incumbent has, for example, voted in Congress against an increase in the minimum wage, and there's enormous support among low wage voters locally, that divergence is exactly what the populist candidate is targeting.
I can't stress this enough . . .
The contract should identify those issues with popular local support which differentiate him or her from their opponents. The progressive candidate is on the side of the people, whereas the opponents -- establishment/centrist/neoliberal candidates from either major party -- are on the wrong side of these issues.
This now points us to how the candidate contract weaponizes the populist's campaign.
The contract draws a massive, unmistakable line in the sand. The populist is on one side -- the side of the people -- and his or her opponents are on the other side. The populist candidate offers the voters something substantial, powerful, unprecedented, a guarantee in writing in the form of a legally-binding contract, declaring in no uncertain terms, what he or she will be doing from day one when arriving in Washington DC, for those same voters who voted them into office.
What can the establishment candidates put on the table? More vague promises, more empty rhetoric, more nice campaign slogans and pleasant sound bites?