It’s the dog days of summer and we have an interesting numerology combination of characters in the sky to contend with. Here’s one thing I can promise…no one will be bored this month. Six, yes I said SIX, planets will be in retrograde in August. What does that mean? Well it depends on the planet and sign. Many people believe that retrograde brings out the negative or dark side of a planet. I disagree. I think that retrograde can dim the power of a transit or require us to revisit that category of our lives and reassess our behavior or choices. In other words, clean house, “come to Jesus,” change course, try a new approach, or apply discipline. With so many areas of our lives being affected by this you have a big list to choose from in terms of focus. Overwhelmed? Here’s my advice: What area of your life have you been putting off changing? What behavior or situation do you need to wrangle, control, change or pay more attention to? You know what you need to do. Don’t feel like making any effort this month? The consequences of your inaction will ratchet up until you take responsibility. If you take your medicine some tough situations could be permanently resolved. Now doesn’t that sound better than mayhem?
July 24- Aug 23rd
“What about moi?”
Happy Birthday my lions and lionesses! Summer is your season in every way. The Sun is even your ruling “planet.” You have an actual burning massive star as your patron heavenly body. Wow. Remember that because I’ll come back to it in a minute. With some of the bigger planets in Earth and Water signs in retrograde, this is a time of rain on your proverbial parade. There is a heaviness or a damper at times on your moments of frivolity or passion. Situations may not resolve at the pace that you desire. There are always complications to wade through. When you feel frustrated try not to turn it on others. This is a month where words can hurt and do damage. Hold your tongue and direct your reflection inward. You are a burning star. You have a generator that is bigger than any circumstance. Own your inner power. The sun doesn’t attack the rain, it just evaporates the closer it gets to its surface. Shine your light and let problems take their own course and dissolve.
Aug 24th- Sep 23rd
You, like everyone else, will be affected by the Mars and Mercury retrograde this month. Virgos are less likely to speak out of turn…they are typically too careful for that. My advice is to cut those around you who struggle with foot in mouth disease some slack. Don’t take everything so personally and hole up to lick your wounds. Yes you are right but they are human. Life isn’t about always being right it’s about connecting and compassion. The last week of August is a divine moment for you all with a grand earth trine- AGAIN. Lucky you, especially those Virgos born August 25th- 30th.
Sep 24th- Oct 23rd
“My milkshake brings all the…”
Yes, the earth and water retrogrades are heavy for you this month but the stars are giving you some lovely breaks too. Firstly, while everyone else is saying the wrong thing in conflict, you have an opportunity to speak up for yourself. August will give you your voice back so it’s time to tell it like it is!
Your other gift is from your patron planet Venus who is home to stay for a little while in Libra. This means extra money and the ability to attract potential partners of all kinds. You don’t even need to pull out your milkshake machine or bat your eyelashes!
Oct 24th- Nov 22nd
“If it’s not broken…”
Many of the transits that are wreaking havoc on others are propelling you to success right now. The retrogrades may slow down your progress a bit but you are still moving forward and expanding your life. With Mars and Mercury squaring your sun AND in retrograde, you may be feeling over confident and taking risks or saying things that may backfire on you. Even though things are going well, hold back this month. Be conservative with your energy and ventures. Don’t disturb or change things that are going well.
Nov 23rd- Dec 22nd
“With the Sun at my back”
This time of year is always good for you with the Sun in Leo. It helps your life vision. How can you improve your dailyness? Do you need to change your habits, routine or choice of activities? This Mercury in retrograde informs you to be calm with your loved ones, even in the face of frustration. After August 7th some funds could release in your favor or a past partner or love could come a callin’. If you are in a relationship, enjoy a magical last three months of August. If you are not in a relationship put yourself out there. You could meet the one this month. Romance is in the air.
Dec 23rd- Jan 20th
These transits require you to work harder on your goals and to assess your process. These activities come naturally to Capricorns. They also will require you to change some habits. Change does NOT come naturally to Capricorns. Please revisit the introductory paragraph at the beginning of this article. What do you know that you need to button up? Your diet and/or exercise perhaps? Yep I thought so. Don’t procrastinate, your health is at stake.
Jan 21st- Feb 19th
“Put a little love in your heart”
This Mercury in retrograde will be a big one for you. Heed my advice and don’t try to push people to do what you want. Convince them that they WANT to do it and that it is THEIR CHOICE. They will flock to you en masse with this approach. In other words, attract don’t force. After August 7th, good love. After August 13th, revisit your finances and/or business plan. Is it working? Does it need a tweak? You may have surprises regarding property or finances this month…go with the flow. There is nothing that you can do to prepare for these changes and they don’t have to be bad; they can be fabulous! Breathe in, breathe out.
Feb 20th- Mar 20th
I don’t know if you’ve read the other horoscopes but this month is pretty tough for the other signs. I’m not saying it’s all rosy for you but I do believe that you could be the sign with the most to gain right now. It all depends on how you use the big energy that is being dealt from the universe right now. Take a cue from Tai Kwon Do. When aggression come towards you in any form (an attack, a confrontation) do not expend energy towards it in defense. Receive the energy and turn it back towards the sender. I know this sounds woo woo but it works.
Don’t be hooked by the anger or confrontation. Just hold up a mirror in a non-emotional way and enjoy the power of nonviolent protest.
Mar 21st- Apr 20th
“The devil is in the details”
Our Aries friends don’t like to slow down for any reason. What they lack in meticulousness they make up for in sheer passion and determination. They are bold, energetic and fearless. Unfortunately, this month all of these qualities are not very useful. Please heed my advice and save your energy. You are being called to make your list and check it twice. You must stop and look at the map or the plan or the process. Ask for proverbial directions. If you aren’t good at the details, find someone who is and ask them to check things for you. You will be glad that you did and more efficiently reach your goals. Yes-you can go faster if you slow down this month.
Apr 21st- May 20th
“Fun in the salt mine”
Typically the first three weeks of August are never your favorite because Leo squares your sun. Everything will always get better for you when Virgo hits on August 24th. August of 2018, however, should be a lot more to your liking. You may feel tired and drained and quite frankly annoyed by the monotony of other people. But unlike the other signs, your productivity will be off the chart. In other words, keep your head down and produce. You can pile up results, money, strategies and clear goals. Evaluate your real estate. It may be time to sell. You also have the favor of your boss or authority figure.
May 21st- Jun 21st
“My future’s so bright…”
You may not make much progress this month towards your goals but you will have a clearer vision than you have had in a while as to where you can go. You see potential like never before. You just can’t run very fast towards your horizon. That’s ok. It’s time to plan, take stock and make a vision board. Half of the ingredient for success is being able to see where you want to be and who you want to be. Have conversations with your future self. KNOW that you will get there. Enjoy being outdoors and get some sun. The Leo summer weeks are illuminating your dreams, enjoy it while you can.
Jun 22nd- Jul 23rd
“Pot boiling over”
Not only are the retrogrades effecting you this month, they are SQUARING your watery crab sign. That means that you may feel like you are running into a brick wall constantly in lieu of making progress. This will make you very ANGRY. Especially as it pertains to Mars in retrograde in the sign of Libra. To help you cope let’s take inspiration from your spirit animal the crab shall we? Crabs are best at camouflage. They blend in and move quickly. They are quiet. They are stealthy. They are brilliant at succeeding while no one is really looking. Crabs are NOT at their best when they feel cornered and stand to attack. Have you ever seen a crab angry and trying to wave its claws to intimidate? It’s almost funny. It certainly isn’t effective. Do what you do best this month and don’t be pushed into making a fool of yourself. No angry displays, please. You can however win against your competitors with cunning hidden strategy.
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.