Principles of Positive Politics

Mental Models

Assumption: All persons create mental models of the reality they perceive.

Implication: Regularly compare your own assumptions to those of others and to new information about reality.

Power Payoff: An accurate assessment of the current situation grounds good judgment.


Assumption: Individuals are predisposed to different worldviews.

Implication: Persons with different predispositions may interpret the same situation differently.

Power Payoff: Understanding others is a basis of leadership, goal-setting, and power use.

Basic Needs

Assumption: All persons have the same basic needs.

Implication: Acknowledge that you share the needs and aspirations of others.

Power Payoff: Our common humanity is the ultimate ground for negotiation.


Assumption: Priorities arise from the individual’s experience colliding with his mental model, world view, and basic needs.

Implication: We value what we perceive will advance our priorities.

Power Payoff: Knowing what we want is prerequisite to success.


Assumption: Persons who communicate regularly become members of a community.

Implication: Frequent communication strengthens community bonds.

Power Payoff: Communities can achieve what no one person can do alone.


Assumption: Members of a community organize to achieve shared goals.

Implication: Achievement requires organization.

Power Payoff: Organizing around goals multiplies chances of success


Assumption: Common and expected behaviors of a community make up the culture.

Implication: Attend to and practice behaviors that you wish to reinforce within the culture.

Power Payoff: Members of a community tend to follow the behaviors of their leadership.

Sacred Truths

Assumption: Members of a community accept some common beliefs and values as sacred truths.

Implication: Align with sacred truths to speed decision-making and cement relationships.

Power Payoff: You will save resources.


Assumption: When a community provisions an organization to set and enforce community goals and standards, the organization becomes a governing institution.

Implication: Institutions exact membership contributions.

Power Payoff: Regular contributions allow an organization to build assets and become self-sustaining.


Assumption: Achieving community goals requires leadership from legitimately chosen authorities.

Implication: Broad participation in choosing authorities grants them legitimacy.

Power Payoff: Legitimacy allows a leader to apply power efficiently and effectively, resolve disputes, marshal cooperation, and shunt disrupters aside.


Assumption: Institutions articulate laws to govern the behavior of persons within their scope of authority.

Implication: Legislation requires a base of legitimacy in ethics, morals, custom, and black letter law.

Power Payoff: Laws reduce operating cost but also are difficult to change and costly to break.


Assumption: Citizens follow the rules or accept the consequences.

Implication: Control your environment by following the rules, changing the rules, or leaving the group.

Power Payoff:  You become part of a polity with laws, authorities, and institutions that provide shared benefits.