With the election just days away, here's a book about how democracy really works. In How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative, Allen Raymond, formerly employed by the Republican National Committee, tells the story of how power corrupts, absolutely. He should know; he served prison time for his role in the phone-jamming scandal of the 2002 New Hampshire senatorial race.
In a breezy, confessional manner, Raymond shows how politics is all about winning in seven easy and nefarious steps:
1. Have cojones. More important than any sort of actual passion for a candidate or platform, a lip-licking desire for power creates a winner. "Causes are all well and good, but what good can you do them if you can't get elected." Realize the author is just like the aluminum siding salesmen in Tin Men or any character in David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross.
2. Study PR."Every election is rigged. People have to pay attention to the way things are couched." Indoctrinate yourself and always believe your own truth. That way it doesn't seem like a lie. American politics is wedge politics - "trying to polarize just enough of a given electorate to get your candidate to win."
3. Consume military strategy. Read Sun-Tzu's The Art of War, Machiavelli's The Prince and Carl von Clausewitz's On War. Oh, and Roger Ailes' You Are The Message: Secrets of the Master Communicators. Repeat after me: This is about winning.
4. Start locally. Align yourself with the party in a county ripe with deal potential.
5. Grow the Rolodex. It's the key to both your own success and that of any election, because, like high school, politics relies on a fluid pecking order.
Always treat those higher than you nicely. Even Karl Rove. Say to yourself: "These people are jackasses, but they're my jackasses.
6. Be loyal. The currency of loyalty is just that: money. Know the difference between hard money and soft money, and that the No. 1 job as a member of Congress is raising money. Public servant, my ass.
7. Win, no matter what.When Chuck McGee, executive director of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee, calls to ask if it would be possible to shut down the phone numbers for get-out-the-vote phone banks funded by Democrats, first call Ken Goss, the Republican Leadership Council's attorney and former general counsel to the Federal Election Commission, and tell him: "While I don't necessarily recommend that you do the program, I don't see anything illegal about it." Then someone like Republican John Sununu can become the new senator from New Hampshire!
Even if you carefully follow these pointers, justice does sometimes prevail. (Or maybe the Democrats stacked the deck.)In those cases, you might have to do as Raymond did and go to jail; that's the short version. You might get dropped by your political cronies. If that happens, adopt a manner of strange naiveté. Act surprised and hurt. Then shake out your hubris like a picnic blanket and write a book with a former reporter from the New York Post. This is America, baby. And that'll be $12 for the paperback.
How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative Allen Raymond with Ian Spiegelman Simon & Schuster, 240 pages