Ed Rogers | Lee Atwater’s Five Rules of Politics

A lot of people under a certain age don’t remember who Atwater was, or maybe some readers weren’t even born when Atwater roamed the American political landscape. Atwater was serving as RNC Chairman — and was only 40 years old — when he died in 1991. I worked for Atwater, and we were close back in the day.

Anyway, Atwater was the first of an era of young, driven campaign pros who saw no end and no limits to the permanent campaign.  He had five rules of politics that he would playfully (or not) repeat to those around him.  Even though they are a little coarse and not particularly idealistic, in the real world — or at least in the real Washington — there might still be some applicability to the rules.

They are:

Rule #1.  Be for what is going to happen.  Simply put, always try to pick the winner. If you’re a selfishly motivated, hyper-ambitious career-manager, it helps a lot to work on the campaign of the winning candidate. Enough said.


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