2015/05/09

The futility of offering solutions

As a frequent candidate for elected office I have learned the disappointing lesson that solutions don't sell — at least not to most of the voters. As soon as one gets specific, one loses more support than one gains.

I learned that lesson from managing mail fundraising campaigns. Most such campaigns cost about as much as they bring in. A campaign is a success if it brings in 5% more than it costs. What can work to do that is to arouse emotions with presentation of dire problems. Present any solutions and the campaign loses money. Ask people to help cure heart disease, but don't ask them to help fund a specific remedy, because that dispels the emotionality from requiring people to think.

Now as a candidate I don't shrink from presenting solutions. I know it will lose more votes than it will win, and I accept that. As a Libertarian candidate I don't expect to win anyway,  and use the campaign as a teaching moment to enlighten people and perhaps lay the foundation for some of them to help with solutions down the way. When I offer solutions in a speech, I can watch as most of the audience glazes over, and the rest seize on one of the many remedies to oppose and decide to oppose the rest as well just because they didn't like one. I often present long lists of hundreds of solutions, like my proposed amendments, and instead of members of the audience focusing on one or two they like, they will focus on one or two they don't like, and ignore the rest.

You might think my preferred approach would work with some audiences, and it does work better with some, such as scientists, engineers, and similar professionals, when the solutions are in their professional field, but venture outside their field and one gets the same reaction. Even among professionals one gets many who seize on specifics they don't like.

Now you might think I'm insane for trying to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result, but I don't expect a different result. I hope for a single individual now and then to become inspired to inquire further into the matter. Unfortunately, most of those then go on to trying to develop their own solutions, usually lame, rather than supporting mine, which also might not be perfect but are better than most other people are able to come up with.


I keep doing it because I accept responsibility only for doing my best, not for getting outcomes. But it is disappointing, because at stake is the very survival of our civilization and all that generations of men have fought and died to achieve. Makes me glad I am old enough that I won't be around to see how it turns out.

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