By Yam Magcamit | Nolisoli
Four tried and true strategies politicians use to court our votes—which we should watch out for
How time flies! We’ve got just over one year left before the next national elections—that is, if charter change doesn’t push through. The filing of certificates of candidacy begins around October 2021, and as soon as the names of candidates become official, you can bet that we’d enter another wild campaign season. But are politicians really waiting until October to actually make a move and court those voters? We don’t think so.
By now, some of them are probably already working to become household names for easier recall come election day. Others are cleaning up their act, staying away from controversies that may smudge their name. Still others are having a go at marking every donation, road sign and landmark with their name, claiming credit while imprinting their names on the voters’ subconscious.
We’ve lived through so many elections that we can already identify some tropes that politicians commonly use to gather attention. We present to you, the four horsemen of the apocalypse—err, the coming campaign season.
Proactive leaders… for a limited time only
You just know it’s almost campaign season when politicians who used to be absent during committee hearings are suddenly showing up for work. An even greater indicator is when they actually start being “proactive” and bills and projects that benefit the public are suddenly being rolled out.
These moves make politicians look like they’re doing their jobs efficiently, as if they haven’t been sleeping on their desk, watching boxing matches in Las Vegas (or actually being in one), or lounging around for the past months or years. Sometimes, you even wonder: What took so long for these tasks to be completed, or for this bill to be filed? Why was this issue suddenly resurrected and why is something finally being done about it? Strategy, sister, it’s strategy. Oh, and timing.
All those sweet talk blasted everywhere
Isn’t it nice to suddenly hear politicians actually making sense? As campaign season approaches, aspiring candidates take the opportunity to boost name recall by loudly volunteering their opinions—those that make them look good and pro-people, of course. It might come as a shocker to hear them suddenly agree with the masses (their potential supporters) or disagree with their fellow politicians (their soon-to-be competitors) to make voters think they’re turning a new leaf.
Come campaign period and you’d see their campaign commercials fill up the media slots allotted for political ads. Again, it’s all sweet talk to boost name recall and press the incumbent advantage, which may help increase electoral support.
You get ayuda, I get ayuda, everybody gets ayuda
Here’s another helpful publicity work that we often see around campaign season: Politicians hosting outreach programs and making huge donations to charitable causes—with full media coverage, natch. Needless to say, the goods have their names and faces plastered on them, lest you forget their (well-timed) largesse.
Sounds ludicrous? That’s probably a narrative
If piling up the good work doesn’t do it, then it’s time to engage in some mind games. Campaign advertising research suggests that “emotional appeals can influence political attitudes, electoral choices and decision-making processes.” This is probably why there are politicians who dig up back stories that paint them as “an ordinary person” who overcame poverty and want to become a prominent business leader/philanthropist through sheer grit and hard work, thus provoking sympathy among voters. Add the promise of them helping you be like them, and you’ve got a convincing narrative—one that has been tried over the years by different personalities to predictable success.
While this narrative works, there’s a trickier and a more elaborate setup that banks on the Pinoys’ natural affinity with the underdog: “identity politics,” featuring a down-on-his-luck character who manages to beat the odds.
Of course, there’s reverse psychology as well. One can provoke voters by dismissing a social group (like women) and their capabilities to handle leadership, just so they could make voters feel as if they’re proving the system wrong by voting for someone in that category. What they might not know, is that candidate could be the naysayer’s very own pick in the first place.
So how do you outsmart these cunning characters who have had enough practice to beat you in the game? You might want to pull a reverse uno card on these suddenly diligent politicians by directing them to issues that need attention or solution. Who knows, they might actually end up taking action as a way to earn approval and votes. Sure they got what they want, but you also got a problem solved.
So beware: don’t let these four strategies politicians fool you or get your vote. Remember, consistency is key. If they’ve never been proactive before the campaign period, it’s only natural to doubt the true intentions hiding behind their belated good works.
And of course, make sure you register to vote in the upcoming 2022 national elections, where you’ll be one of the people deciding the fate of the country in the next six years.