This is the third post on how the Democrats could create a winning strategy. Today's topic is Sun Tzu's concept of heaven-climate-weather (tian), which is the realm of uncontrollable events and trends over time. Sun Tzu teaches that there are many things that directly affect a contest that we cannot control. We can, however, foresee and prepare for these changes over time. We can position ourselves to take advantage of the trends rather than fight them. A winning Democratic position must leverage the major trends over the last eight month. One of the problems of a long campaign, is that it opens up the race to so many more changes over time. What will those changes be?
To win the nomination, Kerry has pounded Bush on jobs. Will employment get better or worse over the next eight months? Most say better. Kerry has also attacked Bush on Iraq. Will this situation get better or worse over the next eight months? Again, despite flair-ups like we have seen recently, the trend seems positive. Now that he has won the nomination, Kerry must start shifting his position on these trends, predicting improvement despite Bush's policies and how they could be accelerated. However, for John Kerry and other Democrats to be successful, they must position themselves with some trends which work in their favor. For example, interest rates and inflation are at an historic lows and are bound to go up. Kerry could start warning about that now, positioning for those changes in the future. In another example, the gay marriage issue seems to be getting bigger and bigger. Instead of running away from it, Kerry could position himself to take advantage of the trend or at least diffuse it as an issue for Bush. To be successful over time, Kerry must identify issues like these and position himself to take advantage of them over the long-campaign season.