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How loose lips sunk Uppy’s campaign

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Upton Sinclair, best known for his muckraking books The Jungle and Oil!, had such a winning personality that he ran for governor of California in 1934. But it soon became apparent that what made “Uppy” a great man did not make him a great candidate for the Democratic Party.

Here’s what we mean:
  • He wrote too much. All Sinclair’s foes had to do was look through his 80 books to find an endless supply of quotes that they could use to attack him.

  • He forgot that his words could be taken out of context. Sinclair had proposed a far-reaching social program called “End Poverty in California.” As the election neared, Sinclair boasted that the program would be so successful, “half the unemployed people in America” would move to California if he were elected.

    That comment sealed his fate: He lost by 220,000 votes.
The lesson: A leader’s words carry more weight than other people’s do. Take care not to have them taken out of context.

—Adapted from Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair, Anthony Arthur, Random House.

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