We’re joined by Caitlin Huxley, a campaign strategist, certified project manager, and history buff with a passion for empowering new candidates to overcome challenges and achieve success in their campaigns. She’s also an author, and her new book is Ancient Wisdom for Modern Campaigns: Lessons from Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
In our show, we dig into why this text is still relevant thousands of years after being written, what campaigners can take away from Sun Tzu’s most famous sayings, and where strategy and tactics meet on the trail.
00:00:00 - 00:03:19
Sun Tzu, a Chinese general and military strategist who lived around 500 BC, wrote 'The Art of War,' a treatise filled with best practices for military strategists. Since its translation into English in 1905, the text has been adapted to various fields, including business, marketing, management, and sports. However, it has been largely absent from politics. In this episode of the Business of Politics show, Caitlin Huxley, a campaign strategist and author of 'Ancient Wisdom for Modern Campaigns: Lessons from Sun Tzu's Art of War,' discusses the relevance of Sun Tzu's teachings in modern political campaigns. Huxley explores the history of Sun Tzu, the reasons behind his writing of 'The Art of War,' and how his principles can be applied to political strategy and tactics today.
00:03:19 - 00:06:26
Sun Tzu's work on strategy, particularly his emphasis on the psychological aspect of warfare, provides valuable insights for modern-day campaigners. His advice to know oneself and the enemy, and to achieve victory through diplomacy or intelligence, is applicable to various campaigns. The maxim 'If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the result of a 100 battles' highlights the importance of knowledge and understanding in campaign strategy. It is crucial for candidates to be aware of the political landscape, including their opponents' strengths and the overall sentiment of the voters. Not every election is about winning; raising awareness for an issue or building party infrastructure can be equally important goals. Understanding the battleground and the enemy's strengths is essential for effective campaign planning.
00:06:26 - 00:09:49
In this context, the speaker discusses the importance of planning and strategy in politics. They highlight that politics is a zero-sum game, similar to warfare, where there is a winner and a loser. They emphasize the need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent and incorporate opposition research into political campaigns. The speaker also references quotes from Clausewitz and Sun Tzu, emphasizing the importance of calculations and planning before engaging in battles or elections. They stress that a well-thought-out plan, incorporating data and budgeting, is crucial for success in politics. Finally, they discuss the significance of energy and momentum in political campaigns.
00:09:49 - 00:15:18
This context discusses the key lessons from Sun Tzu's Art of War and how they can be applied to modern political campaigns. The author emphasizes the importance of having a well-chosen and well-trained team that works together towards a common goal. The context highlights the need for adaptability and the ability to modify tactics in response to changing circumstances. It also emphasizes the importance of seizing opportunities and putting opponents in a reactive position. The context concludes by discussing the significance of rapidity in war and the need to take advantage of the enemy's unreadiness.
00:15:18 - 00:18:48
In this context, the speaker discusses how modern campaigners can use strategies from Sun Tzu's 'The Art of War' to gain an advantage in political campaigns. The key takeaway is to take advantage of the opponent's unreadiness, attack unguarded spots, and target neglected demographics or pressing issues. However, it is important to remember that opponents are also developing strategies and may try to catch you off guard. The speaker emphasizes the use of scandal and the understanding of tactics to defend against them. The analogy of campaigns as warfare breaks down in terms of violence and the literal interpretation of Sun Tzu's quotes.
00:18:48 - 00:21:12
In this context, the speaker discusses the application of Sun Tzu's teachings in modern campaigns. While some of the literal quotes from Sun Tzu may not be applicable, the speaker believes that most of them can be interpreted metaphorically. The importance of communication and the need to make ethical decisions are highlighted. The speaker emphasizes that the book does not focus on honorable decisions or being a good person, but rather on winning. The audience is encouraged to share the episode with others and to explore the lessons from Sun Tzu's Art of War in a new light.