Where do I begin? It seems like more and more you hear politicians say today that “in order to really succeed in politics, you have to lie. That couldn't be any further from the truth. Politicians lie for all kinds of reasons. Let's look at some of them.
• Politicians lie because they want to win public sympathy
• Politicians lie because they are hiding something
• Politicians lie because they are greedy and selfish
• Politicians lie out of fear
• Politicians lie because it's “easy to lie”
• Politicians lie because that's what they have always been taught to do.
Lying and dishonesty in Politics destroys Honesty, integrity, reputation and character. If people can't's trust you, they will not vote for you. Being honest in Politics is not only a good thing but it is the right thing. Whether you are campaigning or in a conference, dishonesty will always come back and bite you later. (…and not in a good way either.) Let's face it whether you like it or not, when you are in politics, one of the greatest aspects of your campaign is your electorate. Without them, you are nobody...ask the NDC in 2000 or NPP in 2008.
Electorate are the “life blood” of any Political Party. With that comes the responsibility of taking care of them. Taking care of them you say? Oh yes, taking care of your electorate is critical to whether your party grows and prospers, or fails and disappears into oblivion. One the easiest ways of securing that is being honest with them.
So how do you be honest? Quite simply, tell the truth, ALL THE TIME. When you do that, you begin to start develop trust. Trust is the foundation and one of the building blocks of building a “relationship” with your people. You see, when you start building relationships, you will have what we all strive for in Politics, and that is the “Being in Power for life.”
Establishing a good and solid relationship with your electorate will almost guarantee that they will go out and tell all their friends that they need to shop and spend their money with you and not one of your competitors. Go so far as to tell the truth even when you mess up with your policies (no matter how bad.) Your people will appreciate the fact that you were honest enough to admit your mistake. That speaks volumes to them. If you make a mistake whether it is on pricing or maybe delivery, always make concessions for it. Go the extra mile and give them something tangible besides the normal “sorry about that.”
That leads into something else. It's called Integrity. Having integrity in Politics is “kin” to being honest. When you say you are going to deliver something by a certain date or time, then do that. Make that a priority and do it for the right reasons. Some people use this “integrity” angle as a way of promoting a false front to their people for the sole reason of deceiving them into thinking they are genuinely a “nice person”…. (So they will spend more money.) Make having integrity part of your life and have it for real so that when people see you, they will believe it.
Another aspect of this is consistency. If you are not consistent, and only “wishy washy” at best, your reputation as a Politician will go right out the window. That is another very important thing you want to maintain in your ideology and that is your reputation. Your word should be your bond. Your word hangs right up there with your name…which if you are branding yourself…you will find very necessary to your success as well. It shows people you are a person of great character.
Some people say, “I only ticked off one voter…what I care.” They say things like “that won't even put a dent in votes.” Oh really? Let's look at this a little deeper, shall we? When you upset ONE voter, not only have you damaged and probably lost that voter for life, but you have lost every electorate (or prospect) in the future that person may talk to or know. What if they are a very influential person in the community?
I think everyone in Ghana knows that “word of mouth advertising is the best advertising in the world.” Who that person talks to could have very damaging effect on not only your ideology and its reputation but could also spill over into your personal life. What if (when you are not working) and someone sees you at the grocery store? They may think “hey, that's the guy (or lady) that ripped off Joe (or Sue) you want to stay far away from them.
There are so many other aspects of this that could be dealt with but I hope you get the drift. If you start out by being honest and maintain that level of character, your image will only grow and spread like a wildfire in a strong wind. You will eventually so much popular you won't know what to do. If you've started out dishonest, then start changing right now, (this goes to the New Ministers, DCE's etc.) It may take time to rebuild your reputation, but over time, people will warm up to you.
On the other hand, if you are dishonest, greedy, deceitful, unlikable, impatient, and just a “jerk”, and you maintain THAT level of character, the principle will work in the opposite way (just as well.) You will be sitting around all day begging to see one voter or one person walk in your door and eventually that won't even last and you'll finding yourself “out of Politics” and looking for a new party to join. Probably, a Political Party that will treat you, as “nice” as you treated others. You know the old saying, “what goes around, comes around.”
In conclusion my fellow Politicians in Ghana you can be honest and still succeed in whatever you do, and please do not take the electorates for granted.
Credit: Paul Rex Danquah
University of East London