How to Win at Policymaking

President Ford jumping on a trampoline at Camp David.
President Ford takes a spin on the trampoline at Camp David. Source

The journalist David Plotz has what he calls the Plotz Principle, and I'm here to say that it might be one of the smartest, most underutilized policy strategies out there.

Whomever is having the most fun wins.

Take - as we recently discussed here - Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to declare New Haven the Pizza Capital of the World.

If you have fun and policy doesn't change, you've still won because moments of your life were spent gleefully.

And you've got plenty of juice left in the orange to give it a-go next time because you didn't squeeze yourself dry. In fact - and here the metaphor falls apart - you've probably got more juice because fun is a replenisher, not a drainer. It often gives back more energy than it takes.

Or the women of the U.S. House of Representatives "baring arms" in the Capitol to get then-Speaker Paul Ryan to rescind a dress code restricting them from wearing sleeveless attire.

If you have fun and the policy does change, you double win because moments of your life were spent gleefully and you nudged some policy to a better place. (The House women were successful.)

At the 10th Congressional Chess Tournament (fun in and of itself!), the very sporting Senator Pete Ricketts got his tail handed to him by a 12-year old named Keaton.

Fun is also such a powerful magnets. People are drawn to it like bees to honey - perhaps because for adults, it's awfully (and sadly) rare. So fun can be a powerful base builder. Constituents who don't know diddly-squat about Senator Ricketts could easily be endeared to him by this chess shellacking.

Then there's longtime Congressman Steny Hoyer having a terrific time shimmying for Maryland Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks.

We are building the world we want to live in in the building of it. If we've made the world a little more delightful, softened a few more people's edges, reminded folks that grinning is, in fact, allowed inside the hallowed halls of legislatures, the world's a little sweeter for our effort.

To be clearer than crystal: fun is not, as the boxers say, punching below the belt. Fun is not at the expense of those who are more vulnerable. Then it's just bullying. And, if that's the best you've got, that's pretty limp-leafed salad.

But something that's truly HEY EVERYBODY GET OFF YOUR DUFFS AND COME ON ALONG! fun - like the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District posting about plumbing lessons from holiday movies - can be both popular and effective stuff. (Just how many regional sewer districts do you know of that have multiple posts watched over 1,000 times?)

So if we're looking to be more effective and tactical, perhaps consider the Plotz Principle.

(And then, of course, there is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's socks.)

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