Power And Dollar

A Lesson From Lincoln

We seldom observe opportunities for Obama to learn more about the mechanics of elections.  This is also a lesson applicable to even to small races such as county or municipal elections.  If Obama studied Lincoln better, he could have avoided this trouble from the Clintons where Hilary gave the permission for more drama at the Denver convention.  Here is the quote from Lincoln: “Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?” 


Lincoln won the nomination with Hamlin as VP, another contender.  After Lincoln won the election, Seward, Chase, Cameron and Bates all got political appointments in his administration.  Why?  Keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer.  The best way to keep your enemies from combining forces to dethrone you is let them fight among themselves.  


This is especially true in an open race.  In an open race, contest tends to be a lot closer among the top contenders.  In order to keep your enemy from distracting you for the rest of the term, give him a job.  Keep him busy at something you have to pay close attention anyway.  Tony Blair made Gordon Brown the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister).  Jean Chretien made Paul Martin Finance Minister.  They all did for the same reason.  


If you enemy were strong enough to lose for 1 percent point, you practical won by flipping a coin.   It is very tempting for your opponent to try his luck again, isn’t it?  Give him a job to do well.  He will see an opportunity to perform and win the next round when you are out the door.  Who knows, maybe you will get a corruption scandal, a sex scandal.  There is only one way to win (get the votes!), but plenty of ways to lose in politics.  


It is the same thing even for a county election.  You won the seat.  Give your opponent a seat on a commission, a committee, or even a board of the local chamber of commerce, rotary club.  Yes, he will accumulate his political capital.  However, the appointment originates from your influence as a sitting official.  He answers to you (vaguely, in the case of a board seat).  If it is an important committee, he may under perform just as well, derail his own career and cause you injuries harm.  But it is still better that you see him on the opposing side in each monthly county / city hall meeting.  Who knows, a few years from now, you may want to retire from politics and if you can pass on seat to him, he will have to look after your surviving interests for a long time.  Don’t you see how Bush 1 is to Reagan?  Or how difficult it is for McCain to distance himself from Bush, no matter how nasty the race was in 2000?  How bad can a deal like that be? 


August 7, 2008 - Posted by | activism, Barack Obama, clinton, Current Events, Democrats, election, Election 2008, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, mccain, nonprofits, opinion, politics, Republican, wordpress-political-blogs


  1. Slick Willy is going to blow it [pun intended].
    For some reason, I think we can attribute the downfall of the Democratic campaign to the Clintons alone. Thank you very much, may your legacy disappear forever.

    Comment by Daniel | August 7, 2008 | Reply

  2. You may be right. What Obama needs is Clinton off his back.

    Comment by royho | August 8, 2008 | Reply

  3. Obama doesn’t get it, women are 50% of the population and the anger at how the media (and comments on blogs like this) by expressing their overt misogyny has created a rising tide of outrage that you guys just don’t get. What exactly is it that Hillary Clinton has done or said that brings out all this virulent hatred? To be more intelligent and informed than her opponents? To have gotten more accomplished as a Senator from NY than they have? Or is it that she isn’t young and ‘hot’? Because really, after 35, women should just shut the fuck up, make cookies and wash your sox, right? What are you afraid of?

    Comment by George | August 8, 2008 | Reply

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