I co-authored a book on this topic called The Art of War Plus The Art of Politics. This work adapts Sun Tzu’s original text line-by-line to political competition. The original and the political adaptation are shown side-by-side in the printed version and paragraph-by-paragraph in the ebook version.
My coauthor Shawn Frost has built a successful career in political consulting/campaign managing using Sun Tzu’s system. His success rate is very impressive. He has done this in the state of Florida that is very politically split.
Obviously, I cannot summarize the entire book in a post here, but let me make a few points about Sun Tzu’s methods in politics.
- The system is based on “winning without conflict”. Some people, such as Trump, can use conflict to their advantage. This is the exception, not the rule. The system is based on finding an opening for a good position that others overlook.
- In this system, an “opening” might be described as a “unifying” issue. Instead of playing to the expected party divide, it bridges that divide in an interesting way. The position should appeal to both sides in a surprising way. I know that Shawn has used schools as such an issue.
- Unifying issues can be discovered and explored in a systematic way. Of course, that is mostly what Sun Tzu’s work is really about: how you find open ground.
- Much of the system deals with how to handle specific strategic problems. There are nine common strategic problems and certain standard responses that work best. However, in each response, you must add creativity, but Sun Tzu has even explained a method for doing this in a simple, consistent way. Very precise instructions, such as how to deal with firestorms of controversy, are also addressed.