Commentary: How to win the political game – events drive politics

I’ve written previously about an old political maxim that says: Events drive politics.

That is as true today as ever before, only today the event might be on Zoom. If you want to be successful in politics, as a candidate, an incumbent, a consultant, an activist, a lobbyist, an industry advocate, or whatever – events will help you achieve your goals.

I’m talking here about more than the routinely scheduled meetings and speeches. I’m suggesting that you need to plan special events using a bit of creativity. They will pay off.  

Events force good things to happen. Events provide great leverage. Any candidate, elected official, or political practitioner who isn’t planning events is missing major opportunities. And if your political opponents are holding events, and you aren’t, you may be falling behind.

Events such as speeches, fundraising dinners, debates, hearings, panel discussions, town or neighborhood meetings, press conferences, media interviews, town celebrations, etc., all can help you make political progress. What happens when you schedule an event? You are forced to:

  • Get people involved
  • Establish policy and clarify positions
  • Prepare communications materials, focus your messages and hone your arguments
  • Interact with the media
  • Develop contact information and mailing lists
  • Pull together people in good causes.

Those are all very positive things for a candidate or an office holder. Most political leaders develop important policy positions when they are writing speeches or preparing for media interviews. Giving a speech forces you to grapple with the key issues and to develop your policy and positions. Holding a fundraising event not only nets you some campaign cash, but it provides a lot of good exposure and forces you to get organized and get supporters helping.

Without events, not much happens in politics. But it’s surprising how many political leaders at all levels, especially after they’re elected, don’t go out of their way to proactively plan events. They attend their regular meetings and take what speeches and other opportunities are offered them, but they aren’t aggressively creating events. More good event opportunities exist than most politicians realize. It just takes a little creativity.

The old political maxim that events drive politics is true.