BILLING OF ODM GALA IS ANOTHER CASE OF INCORRECT POLITICAL MESSAGING
By Jackson Omondi
Republican messaging guru and pollster Dr Frank Luntz authored a New York Times bestseller titled “The Words that Work,” the subtitle of the masterpiece is “It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.” The book is a political consultant’s must-have.
In the book, Dr Luntz lays out ways of saying things in ways that are easy on the ears. He demonstrates ways that consultants and political speechwriters can craft statements that are loaded with arcane policy proposals but are sweetened with words that make the targeted audience to embrace the proposals without necessarily getting caught up in the granular data and political geekspeak.
In some cases, audiences are treated to hitherto unwanted ideas but unbeknown to them, the message hits the targets via colourful lingo. Put bluntly, it’s a way of telling someone to go to hell in a way that makes them look forward to the trip!
This is the reason why in 2014, the Republican Senatorial campaign committee reached out to Dr Luntz to help coach Republican candidates who were running for U.S. Senate.
The GOP was just a few seats away from capturing the majority in the Senate and this time, they were determined to not make the same mistakes that they made in 2010 where they blew four winnable Senate seats.
In Nevada, the Senate majority leader survived when his would-be opponents engaged in one verbal faux pas after another. The strongest candidate disqualified herself by suggesting a return to the stone age barter trade as a way of paying for healthcare.
In Delaware, Chris Coons beat an opponent who invoked witchcraft in the campaigns, in Missouri, Claire McCaskill came from the dead when her opponent claimed that women who are victims of rape actually asked for it! Finally , in Indiana, the Democrat won an improbable race when his opponent claimed that rape was “legitimate!”
Its instructive to note that the dems were trailing badly in all the aforementioned races but messaging blunders committed by the Republicans was enough to get them over the hump.
When Dr Luntz came to town, everything changed. They were coached on all social, economic and foreign policy talking points and when elections came by in 2014, they finally took control of the Senate.
Back to Kenya. ODM needs a messaging guru like yesterday! A party that enjoys massive support nationwide should have known better than to tie the party anniversary/ membership to a paid gala! Furthermore, crowning the occasion as a meet-and-greet session with THE ENIGMA at a cost of six grand was unfortunate simply because the inherent message was that if one couldn’t shell out the money, they had no chance of seeing and meeting the Party leader.
To be clear, nobody is opposed to the party raising money, but it’s important to package it as such instead of making it appear like a political extravaganza where only those with cash are invited. The ocassion should have been billed as a fundraiser from the beginning.
It is therefore not surprising that most party faithful are protesting and have taken to social media to register their displeasure. To them, the feat appeared to be an ocassion for the chosen few as opposed to the normal ODM functions that they are accustomed to.
An exclusive communique from the party to its rank and file detailing the need for the function and why the money was required ahead of time would have done the trick.
The party’s internal critics or the disgruntled wing of the party are equally guilty of miscommunication. Sample this. Some bloggers have inundated the party with all kinds of criticism, but instead of choosing appropriate words to air their grievances, they have often resorted to hyperbolic statements which in turn – and predictably – are met by resounding verbal beatdowns and threats.
There is a way of saying that you would like the party to change course without appearing to disrespect the party leader. It’s all in the words. There is also a way of addressing party faithful without blanketing them as sycophants.
The most critical point is that a leader who wants to defeat an incumbent who has law enforcement, the defence forces, intelligence units and paramilitary units at his beck and call MUST KNOW that the incumbent cannot and will not allow you to WIN an election if all you do is telegraph during campaigns that you intend to fundamentally change how things are done. Such an incumbent is driven by paranoia of the unknown and the last thing he or she will do is to hand over the keys to anyone who promises to address issues that no other president has attempted to address.
The only way to go about the campaigns is to avoid being specific on all lightning rod issues and speak in general terms. Once you get into office, then you can execute your plan. In 2002 Kibaki signed an MOU that deep down, he knew that he was going to trash, but he never alluded to it during the campaigns. In 2013, Uhuru Kenyatta told the country that the ICC case was a small personal issue but when he became President, he made it a national issue.