The Most Powerful Word in Politics

Whenever a lobbyist (and don’t cringe at that word or profession because YOU have a lobbyist at this very minute working on your behalf) would ask me how I had planned on voting on a particular piece of legislation, he or she was looking for only three answers.

1. Yes
2. No
3. Maybe

Vote counting is easy when you are answered with Yes or No.

Maybe is powerful.

Imagine a committee that has 7 Yes votes and 7 No votes on a bill and one maybe.

Maybe gets all the attention.

Sort of like when you ask a girl to prom. Yes, No, or Maybe. Which one gets the Ohhhh response?

Yup – Maybe.

For legislators looking at voting on legislation, their world view of legislation breaks down like this.

1. Hell Yes.
2. Yes
3. Leaning Yes.
5. Leaning No.
6. No.
7. Hell No.

Maybes are the ones who get to cut the deals, the ones who Gang Up and win high praise from “thoughtful” people because it looks like the legislator is weighing the pros and cons to the issue. My God! They are actually THINKING about the bill! Must be a Statesman.

Yes, of course!

Well, actually – maybe.

Oh no. Here we go….

Start applying the Maybe Test to any policy question and see what happens.

Hey – do you think the Earth is warming?


What about increasing taxes?


Maybe creates energy in politics. It creates turmoil, intrigue, and speculation.

It’s like putting a REALLY big Christmas present under the tree without a name tag on it.

Who’s is this?

Is it mine?


Am I going to win the Lottery this week? Maybe.


Crazy making.

Maybe is the most powerful word in politics.

Use it with caution.

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Chris Saxman

About Chris Saxman

Father of four, small business leader, retired politician, and Executive Committee member and former Chairman of an international trade association, Chris Saxman delivers strategy and insight as a political coach and keynote speaker. Contact Chris.

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