• Gregory Z. Smith

It's a Different "Game" this Time

Updated: Jul 8, 2019

We often refer to politics as a "game," and many aspects of politics are like games. There are rules. There are competitors. There are winners and losers. Good sportsmanship is admired and helpful.

Where calling politics a "game" presents issues for me is that games are for entertainment, recreation, diversion. Politics can be about life and death issues, very serious consequences, and lasting impacts. Thus, I say, "It's a different 'game' this time," advisedly.

Yes, I plan to win, and yes, I plan to be a good sport. I also plan to help as many people as possible understand the impact ranked choice voting is going to have. I encouraged my colleagues on the Council to take it on, and we voted unanimously to do it. However, I want it to work for more and better reasons than simply saying, "I was right!"

When I speak with people about my campaign at their doors and at various events, I also share information about RCV. Surprisingly, there are still many who have not yet been made aware that is how our election is going to be conducted, until I speak with them about it. I've also gone into the how-to and what the beneficial impacts are already in other posts; so, I won't repeat those points here.

What I do want to say in this post is that "politics as usual" is going to need very serious rethinking this time. We've always run my campaigns with a focus on the issues, my experience, how I listen and research, my goals, my interaction with our community, and my vision. That won't change.

What will change is the conversation about who should be someone's second or third choice, assuming I'm their first choice. Conversely, if someone else is their first choice, then the conversation needs to be about how we make it clear that I should be their second choice. These two things make for a very different campaign dynamic. It will be interesting to see how some people adjust.

I've already been told about an instance when one of my supporters was approached by someone campaigning for a different candidate for mayor. When it was made clear that my supporter was voting for me, the other person then asked for their candidate to be considered for the second choice spot and made it clear that their campaign believed I was the first choice after their candidate.

The other stories that several supporters have shared with me have been about being approached to support another candidate, and their responses have been slight variations on, "No, I am supporting Greg this time." I appreciate that, and I will continue to work on being the first choice for enough people so that we get a majority on the first cycle.

Still, if it requires a second or third cycle in the vote counting program, we want to be sure people have plenty of good reasons to support my being mayor, even if someone else was their first choice.

I learned to play chess when I was six or seven years old. I can see how some might consider the skills needed in politics similar, but for me, this is a very distinct endeavor. This time especially, the "game" is a different one.

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