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Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Adjoint Election Campaign

“Playas win over crowds; a winner plays them backwards.” -- TheBigHenry
Not all problems have solutions, and of those that do, not all have straight forward solutions. But even if a straight forward solution exists, it is sometimes more efficient to solve the problem backwards. This is the essence of the adjoint approach to the solution of a problem. One begins by positing the desired outcome, and proceeds, in reverse chronological order, to determine the requisite initial conditions.

The American Presidential Campaign is a natural for the adjoint approach. Despite the 200 years of experience, and discounting the uniqueness of Washington's candidacy, the overwhelming majority of Presidential candidates have been, and will continue to be losers. But the multi-stage Presidential campaign, from trial balloons, to announcement of candidacy, to caucuses, primaries, conventions, and national election, is ideally suited to an adjoint strategy. The desired outcome is unique, but the set of potential initial conditions (along with their corresponding campaign segments) is vast.

The adjoint mapping begins with the last chronological juncture of the complete campaign sequence, the national election. The candidate's campaign-strategy team posits a win (of course), and based on best available information, the team develops the requisite initial conditions (and subsequent chronological activity), beginning just after the successful outcome of the nominating convention, and ending just prior to the national election. The second mapping step performs the same strategic analysis for the next (taken in reverse chronological order) juncture, the nominating convention. This process continues until all remaining junctures have been mapped in reverse chronological sequence. The entire process is updated whenever events deemed relevant to a successful campaign demand it. At a minimum, a complete re-mapping should be performed after each chronological juncture is concluded.

Let's take a much simplified fictitious example for illustrative purposes:
The Republic of Unified States (RUS) is a world power and the target of fanatical extremist elements bent on its destruction. The electorate of RUS understands that the Nation's top priority is the defeat of foreign extremism, but it is obsessed with partisanship, as well as petty regional interests. There are just 3 junctures in the Presidential campaign: (1) the Primary for both the Reddish and Bluish Parties, to be held in the largely insignificant State of Irving; (2) the two Party Nominating Conventions; and (3) the National Election.

Candidate Jules Rudy of the Reddish Party, a former mayor of the biggest city in the largely Bluish State of Empire, has the best credentials for winning the National Presidential Election because, while Mayor, he gave a stellar performance of his executive duties during the most outrageous act of terrorism ever perpetrated against RUS. So his adjoint election campaign assessment begins prior to the National Election, with an all out focused emphasis of his executive credentials for dealing with the foreign threats to RUS. Rudy is presumed to win the National Election because his Bluish Opponents, a woman Presidential Candidate who couldn't control her own husband, and her young and totally inexperienced Vice-Presidential running mate (whose principal support came from an enormous wealthy Holyshithead), are overwhelmed by Rudy's obvious superiority, which the electorate perceives at this critical juncture. But the initial conditions for this chronologically final segment of the campaign require that Rudy wins the Reddish Nomination.

The Reddish Party is basically a two-theme party: (1) no abortions, ever; and (2) fiscal restraint. They don't give a shit about anything else. Well, Rudy is in trouble on both counts: (1) his 5th wife has had 2 abortions, and so has his youngest daughter; and (2) his Reddish opponents for the Nomination have been hammering away at some allegations that he misspent City funds wining and dining his 4 mistresses. In the middle campaign segment, following the Primary and preceding the Convention, his crack campaign team must come up with a strategy to lay to rest (no pun intended) some of the unsubstantiated allegations, and neutralize the abortion-based speed bumps. If all else fails, Rudy must simply use the big bullshit guns — outright lying. What he must not do is squander playing up his executive skills, because his Party doesn't really give a shit. Rudy must be patient about trumpeting his executive skills; that will be his crucial advantage over his Bluish Opponents before the National Election.

Finally, how to deal with the run up to the Primary. Irving is a tiny state of 3,016 farming families. Most of them couldn't even locate the Empire State on a map of the Northeast Region of RUS. All they care about is farm subsidies. The main question confronting Rudy's strategy team is whether or not he has to win the Primary outright, or is a good showing sufficient for their Candidate's purposes. Once they realize that Rudy's opponents also have no clue about dealing with farmers, they devise some bullshit story about how Rudy's ancestors came from Sicilian farm country, and in so doing develop a line that ingratiates Rudy to the Irving farmers, without actually promising them any continuation of farm subsidies (that wouldn't play well at the Nominating Convention). It's going to be tricky because the farmers are going to harp on this unrelentingly. But Rudy wasn't born yesterday, and besides, with five wives and four mistresses, he is the Honorary Summa Cum Laude graduate from the School of Political Bullshit.
What comprises a campaign? Obviously it's bullshit, and plenty of it. But the bullshit must be so contrived as to sway the appropriate audience at the appropriate juncture of the campaign. It is, of course, a best guesstimate at every juncture, but so it is, as well, when mapping the strategy in chronological order. The great advantage of the adjoint approach is that it serves to minimize the need for back-peddling, waffling, or flip-flopping, all of which are typically pounced upon by opponents to stigmatize the outed candidate. Nobody likes a candidate who can not be trusted to stand by his or her own bullshit.

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