Lessons from 2016 – Want to win the next election or issue campaign? Lead with values.

What can we learn for this presidential election to help protect the issues and values we care about? Climate change, women’s rights, economic equality, health care, and many more are likely to become headlines under the new administration.

A campaign can’t take their base for granted and needs to inspire and motivate people through a clear vision that encompasses their values. Momentum builds. When you motivate a base, others don’t want to be left out. It’s human nature to join the team and not be left behind.

In Clinton’s campaign, we saw a message that relied heavily on: vote for me because the other guy is unfit to lead – not a vision with values that inspired the Democratic base to vote. The frame became about Trump. Successful campaigns make the campaign about the voters values and build empathy with them. Ironically, Trump was a broken record talking to his base. He motivated his base through their shared values and they voted in the key states needed to win.

Trump won two million fewer votes than Romney did in 2012, compared with Clinton who won seven million fewer votes than Obama – both not great, but one inspired more action.

When it came to white voters, surprisingly there was little change between elections. Clinton won 37 percent of the white vote, compared to Obama’s 39 percent. Trump also captured 58 percent of the vote to Romney’s 59 percent. White voters made up 70 percent of the electorate this year, down from 72 percent four years ago. Overall, the percentage in support did not change greatly, but the number of voters who were inspired and motivated to vote did in the targeted states.

Then how do you inspire someone to act? You don’t tell voters what to do or that the world is coming to an end, so to speak. People need a positive solution that relates and builds empathy with them through shared values. And the best way to convey your values and vision is through stories – a good story is lasting, creates empathy, entertains and leads to action.

So what’s a good model to inspire voters? Most marketing follows a “have, do, be” pattern. If we have a product like a new Tesla, we will do something with it like drive ludicrous speeds, and be happy. However, we all know one could have all the money in the world, do stuff with it and still be unhappy – additionally many become unsatisfied and end up looking to have the next best product. The impact is short term.

During this election cycle many ended up focusing on having the candidate, not the candidate being those values and vision. The narrative went: if we have Clinton, we will govern, and we will be happy.

To inspire and motivate long-term change the pattern should read the opposite: “be, do, have.” Dr. King did not have a five-point plan, he had a dream that inspired people to take action. He started with a clear vision and values and became a symbol of them. He repeated this vision and repeated it through inspiring stories. When we start with the vision that encompasses our values, we do things like vote and then have a president that will live that vision.

Let’s stop selling candidates and issues. Let’s be and live our vision to improve our world.

Originally Published on the Huffington Post

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