Politicians are not Stratecutors

It’s political season. And I am constantly struck by how old-fashioned it all seems. While we’re seeing mainly the Republican candidates in full view, this out-dated-ness isn’t restricted to one party. Being a candidate seems to demand adhering to an archaic persona – as Frank Bruni said in the NY Times this past Sunday, “the disconnect between how big our problems are and how just plain stuck the people who are supposed to address them defies belief”. This seems obvious by the fact that the leading candidate for the Republican nomination is still “none of the above”.  Who are these people trying to appeal to?

I thought it was interesting to point out that political candidates defy every rule I’ve been talking about and every tenet of Stratecution.

  1. Learning is forbidden.
    They are all “knowers” – they have the answers already and resist learning at  all costs. It’s even unacceptable to talk about learning – having experienced something or heard something that helped them evolve their thinking is a non-starter. And they feel the need to appear  so unwavering, that, to them, to “waffle” or “flip-flop” is the ultimate  insult. Why do people believe that actually evolving your point of view, based  on experience, thinking and learning, is bad? How could being completely and  irrevocably dug in on a position be a good thing?
  2. It’s all high-level, vague generalities.
    They all refer to broad themes like “the  free market”, or “small government”. How about some specifics? How about real  applications of these broad ideas that might actually help us? No, that would  require taking a stand, and working through layers of detail. Not something  that seems to pay off. But that’s where the actual magic will be.
  3. They over-simplify the world.
    They never acknowledge the complex world we live in – and the difficulty in  applying pat, off-the-shelf answers. It’s going to take a lot of stratecution, no matter the approach. And they never talk about the fact that real-world  experience and results may cause a continued evolution of the in-going  approach.
  4. They talk about silver-bullets.
    Each candidate seems to focus on one or two big things that they want to do. But the truth is, it will probably take a lot of little things to get things moving again. What are some of those little things they might have in mind?
  5. None of them have EVER made a mistake.
    It’s always someone else’s fault. And the irony is that a) people relate to honesty; and b) I bet some of their biggest successes come out of the learning they developed from mistakes. But you’ll never hear about that.
  6. They are always CERTAIN about things.
    You will never hear a politician say “I’m not sure” or “I need to learn more about that”. But isn’t that generally the case – I believe this, my experience suggests this, but I  don’t “know” as  yet?

I’m not saying this is the only issue with politicians (especially the current crew). But isn’t it time we had more than just pat answers, posturing and promises? I say, bring on the Stratecutor candidate!


  1. Unfortunately that candidate would simply enjoy the pithiness of your portmanteau and not ever seek the philosophical substance the handle intimates.

    Have you read Jon Ronson’s “The Psychopath Test”? I’d recommend it as a model to understanding a politician’s dysfunction.

    Good work again!

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