Four Lines of Political B.S. That Make Philly Voters Swoon

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(This post originally appeared on The Philly Post)

Got an election coming up? Running for political office in the city of Philadelphia? Or maybe you’re running for a state or local office that requires votes from Philadelphians?

Relax! I’ve got you covered. There’s still plenty of time to win. All you need to do is say the right things.

It doesn’t even have to be what’s right for the city in the long run. Just focus on the short term. Your job is not to make tough decisions and lead. Your job is to just to get elected, OK? That means you must study the polls and just tell the mob what they want to hear so they’ll vote for you. So what do you need to tell them? Here are a few core messages that are guaranteed winners.

“If elected, I’ll make sure the big corporations will pay their fair share.”

Because, yeah, everything’s their fault. And those guys are just thumbing their noses at the little guy.

It makes no difference that they’re providing inexpensive services, technologies, energy, infrastructure or products that greatly enhance our lives. Or that they’re drawing in thousands of tourists and conference-goers to our town. Or that they employ tens of thousands of people in the city and the state. Forget cutting costs or reforming pensions.  Ew — that’s not what the voters want to hear. To solve our budget problems and generate more funding for our schools and government, you just need to tax those big companies more.

That’s where the money is. You need to add to the already historically high rate of taxes that corporations are now paying. You need to blame them for our funding problems. Just keep your fingers crossed that they won’t decide to move elsewhere. And don’t mention that they’ll likely pass on these additional taxes in the form of price increases, because that’s what corporations always do in order to profit. In 2014, people love it when you attack corporate America, so go for it.

“If elected, I’ll take control of our city’s school system away from the state.”

Because that worked so well before the School Reform Commission (SRC) was in place, didn’t it? And shame on that commission, who are now requiring teachers to pay into their health insurance after two years of fruitless negotiations with their union.

You need to get rid of that inexperienced group of know-it-alls and pompous clowns. You know who I’m talking about — that committee of school district officials, that silly ’ol superintendent, former teachers, principals and knowledgeable politicians who could just care less about the city’s children, right? So what if pensions and health benefits are driving the city into financial ruin? Voters, and the unions they work for, don’t want to hear that. They want what’s best for our kids and nothing more. Not at all. So tell the people that you plan to get rid of the SRC and “take back control of our schools.” They’ll love you.

“If elected, I will help small businesses grow because they’re the backbone of the economy.”

Because even though survey after recent survey confirms that small and mid-sized businesses feel they are more “profitable” and “optimistic” than ever, you still need to pay a lot of attention to them because there are hundreds of thousands of them in the area and it makes for a great story. These are the entrepreneurs, the innovators and mostly the middle class.

Just don’t mention that raising taxes on big companies will restrict them from investing, growing and employing the great majority of small businesses who rely on them for their work. And don’t bring up that even with the past four years of incentives, subsidies, grants and government stimuli, more than two-thirds of small business owners are reluctant to hire. You just want to be a supporter of small business “growth” (whatever that means). That’s all the voters need to hear.

 “If elected I will devote myself to [insert some unachievable but visionary goal].”

My favorites are things like “ending racial profiling” or “cutting the illiteracy rate in half.” (These are two actual goals of one of the candidates running for Mayor). You need to do the same. You know that these things are completely unattainable. You know that you can’t reverse human psychology or put Band-Aids on a desperately broken system in a mere four or even eight years.

But the voters eat this stuff up. I suggest also adding a few other fashionable but unachievable goals like “vowing that Ryan Howard will learn to hit singles to the opposite field against the defense’s over-shift” or “ridding the city of its homeless and Howard Eskin.” These are things that will also, of course, never happen.  But it’s certainly popular rhetoric among the voters and rhetoric is what will get you in office. So say it! Then just blame everyone else when it doesn’t happen.

Some final tips when running for office?

  • Make sure to show your spouse and children in all your advertisements to reinforce what a great spouse and parent you are and to throw water on those lingering doubts that the voting public will think that your spouse and children do not support your candidacy. Of course they do.
  • Attack your opponent on TV by pulling out comments made 20 years ago or something else out of context along with a very unflattering photo of him or her. Replay these commercials 87 times during the local news and 37 times during The Big Bang Theory.
  • Bring in a big, national politician for a big, boisterous rally so that they can say how much they love you and how great you’d be for the city of Philadelphia. Just make sure to tell them who you are beforehand so they don’t introduce the wrong person. Get a few key photos for the press too, for God’s sake.
  • Pose for lots of empathetic photos with children, old people and a struggling, racially mixed middle class couple who “are just trying to make ends meet.” That looks great. And so do you.

Good luck this Fall, or whenever your election is. Winning over the voters of the city of Philadelphia isn’t hard. You just have to know the right things to say.

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