This article answers the question: What is a politician's purpose? In Ghana, everyone is an expert in politics. But is everyone really an expert? This article is based on research and my over 15 years experience in political activism.
Service to the people vrs Power over the people: People want to know if a politician will be around to serve the people, or he will enjoy power and forget the people. The politician who puts social service ie serving the people ahead of building mansions and living an ostentatious lifestyle will serve longer.
Building Trust: An important factor in building trust is accessibility. Most Politicians become accessible when the next election is around the corner. You will often hear the people say "he never visited me in 4 years". "He is now doing our roads because election is next week".
Permanent Campaign: A good politician must occupy the mind space of the people all the time. A day must not pass that a politician does not connect with his constituents. Social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Telegram, WhatsApp, etc) is one of the cheapest but most effective ways of connecting with large audiences or followers at a click. Surprisingly, some politicians are not even on social media.
Constant social media posts will enhance a politicians grassroot connection. Regular Town Hall meetings or Community engagement activities are equally important. In short, a politician must live his life as though the next is election is only tomorrow and he must constantly occupy the mind space of the people through daily updates of his social media handles, organise regular press conferences, be deliberately visible on television and radio as well as organise regular community meetings. Permanent campaign is the marketing of trust. Brands like Microsoft, MTN and Vodafone have become global brands because of marketing yet many politicians are not known beyond their core political party support base.
Consistency: Nothing builds trust like consistency. People go to their favourite restaurant again and again because they know exactly what the food will taste like. A politician who is consistent with his ideas, policies, objectives, visibility, even clothing and body language, is able to win the trust of the people.
An inconsistent politician says one thing today and another thing tomorrow.
Core Supporters: This is another issue which causes the downfall of many politicians. In his book Muqaddimah (Philosophy of History), Ibn Khaldun observed that ruling dynasties often lose power when the core supporters of the dynasty become disenchanted with the regime. Another group with high "assibiyya" or strong solidarity will easily get rid of the ruling dynasty. The cycle continues unabated.
In other words, a politician's first killer bullet is from himself and how he treats his core supporters. Ideally, the core supporters of a politician are those who sit down with him to draw his vision and objectives. They are the ones who push his agenda through their leg work. Assuming, those core supporters are seen around his opponent in the next election, what will be the public perception about such a politician? Yes, a politician can recruit an entirely new team to work for him alright but what will be their level of commitment? When a very pretty woman marries a poor man, it is not the same as when a very pretty woman marries a rich man. A politician must take care of his core supporters like the way a hen takes care of its eggs.
In conclusion, a good politician must be social centred or people centred rather than power drunk. Do not wait until election year before you begin to work. Your job begin the very day you are declared the winner. People want development, give it to them. Don't wait till last minute.
In addition, a politician must keep his core supporters to the best of his ability.The cost of losing certain people cannot be quantified. There is a saying that those you meet when climbing are the same people you meet when descending.This is so true about politics.