As humans, we are limited in our abilities. It is only natural and proper that we pray and seek the face of the Lord concerning every endeavour including presidential ambitions. God is not disinterested in politics. Before candidates move ahead, it is important to seek the Almighty’s guidance. Campaigns are brutal and they can be one of the most tasking things anyone can do. If rumours making the rounds are anything to go by, politics can be a huge spiritual battleground, and we all know when it comes to spiritual matters; some Africans don’t play. Seeking strength, protection and direction from the Lord would be an important first step.
Seek the consent of your spouse, family and trusted confidants
Politics imposes serious burdens on, not just the candidate but their families especially the spouse. Candidates will need the support of their spouses and family. They will also have to bare the effects of the gruelling campaign schedule, long period of absence from home and media scrutiny. In addition, they may have to get on the campaign trail at some point. Sincerely seeking their consent is pivotal. It’s also a good idea to do a quick check in with long trusted close friends and not just the political operatives or men and women hanging around the candidate. One of the main reasons Hillary Clinton did not run for president in 2004 was because her daughter Chelsea was against it. Similar stories can be told of the role of plain speaking trusted friends and family in the political careers of Barack Obama and Chris Christie. John Mahama confessed his daughter was happy he lost the 2016 elections. Hopefully, he has her approval, should he decide to put himself up for 2020.
Gut check & Purpose
There are several reasons why people may run for president but the national interest should override. Politicians may always cite national interest as the main reason for running but, candidates must engage in internal reflection and soul searching regarding the real motives for running. At the moment, many believe John Mahama may be running to possible make up and ‘save face’ from the2016 electoral defeat. A candidate in his position has to convince Ghanaians to vote for him beyond sentimental reasons. Here are some question candidates should be asking themselves: what is the one big contribution I hope to make to national life? What is the one big change I hope to make? What is the major transformational vision, the one big idea you genuinely hope to achieve beyond pro forma laundry lists? As David Axelrod once said “authenticity is the leading indicator in presidential elections…” If voters smell phony motives, your campaign is already off to a rocky start. Elections are not just about candidates, they are good opportunities to assess what the country appraise the health of the nation and consider what substantive, era defining and awe inspiring contributions a candidate can make. In other words, what is your one big game changer?
Political campaigns can and should be guided by systematic research. Potential candidates must commission professional consultants—beyond their campaign staff—to conduct external research to consolidate their own data. The most successful campaigns are often executed with reference to both internal and independent research.
A good starting point is to conduct a situational analysis of the candidate from multiple perspectives and models. This situational analysis often includes a SWOT analysis but candidates should really move beyond the boardroom and partisan campaign room analysis to third party investigations and field research. The campaign team should be able to determine the mood of the nation and how receptive voters would be to their candidate. Research would accomplish several tasks including determining the popularity of your candidate, voting trends and political socialization variables. Basically aspirants should be ready to commission professional researchers to conduct extensive research using pre-campaign techniques and guided by rounded concepts that will guide the campaign. Crucially too, the campaign will have to engage consultants gifted with the skills of political framing to help translate data into campaign narratives and persuasive messages.
Selecting your team
Candidates may be running the show but the people around the aspirants could make or break them. As the primary season heats up, one of the first things candidates should be concerned about is the kind of people they recruit. Having the right calibre of persons with the right motives and the right skills and abilities would have a telling effect on the campaign. Party bootlickers, sycophants and blinded loyalists should be avoided. Candidates should make strenuous efforts to choose qualified, committed and sharp political hands able to tap into the character, qualities and positions of the candidate in an efficient way.
No matter how capable or how willing one is, bad health is likely to affect the campaign negatively. We all pray for good health. Candidates should examine their health situation to make sure they’re not putting themselves at risk or they are all clear from the doctor before embarking on this gruelling task. In other democracies, voters sometimes demand to see the health records of candidates. Clearly, assessing your health situation is a necessary first step.
What are your views? What do you think? Should bad health necessarily prevent you from running? Should you stop running for president if your family or spouse disagrees? What other factors should candidates be considering before running for president. What should candidates, particularly from the NDC side, be considering as they prepare for party primaries? Please add your voice!
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