John Feehery: How to win voters

Senate1In a recent column for The Hill, John Feehery suggests that prospective politicians could learn a great deal from Dale Carnegie.

Feehery writes: Amid the Great Depression, Dale Carnegie’s book, How To Win Friends and Influence People, was published by Simon & Schuster and went on to be one of the biggest-selling self-help books in history.

There is plenty of good material in there for political parties. Here are my modified rules for the Republican Party, as inspired by Carnegie.

1. Don’t only criticize, condemn or complain. Carnegie warned about the negative effects of criticism. It leaves a mark on the psyche of the average American. In modern politics, it is not realistic to avoid negative campaigning. But criticism for criticism’s sake is not enough to win a campaign. Republicans have to put forward their action plans, their vision of change, and not merely focus on the president’s failings. It’s not enough to curse the darkness.

PoliticansBad2. Arouse in the American people an eager want. Carnegie talks about how to get children to eat their vegetables, by linking it to something they want to do, like becoming a basketball star or beating up the neighborhood bully. In much the same way, the Republican Party has to better link its policies to what the American people really want, which is economic security and a peace of mind knowing that their families will be safe. The GOP often talks about tax cuts or increasing defense spending, but rarely connects it to what the American people really want.

3.  Smile. Carnegie said, “A smile is nature’s best antidote for discouragement. It brings rest to the weary, sunshine to those who are frowning, and hope to those who are hopeless and defeated.” Republicans need to remember that a smile can go a long way to achieving important political goals. It can inspire confidence and win votes.

PoliticalConventionRonald Reagan was the best at this because he saw a bright future for the American people. We need a happy warrior who smiles and can make the American people feel at ease.

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Feehery is president of QGA Public Affairs He served as spokesman to former Speaker of the House Denny Hastert (R-Ill.), as communications director to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as speechwriter to former Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).