The modern idea of a politician's job is (in part) that (s)he ought to develop and propose improvements, to build a better government for the people. The idea is that this convinces additional voters and enables the most useful politicians to gain and hold political office.
Politicians even in modern democracies rarely follow this desirable pattern, though. Instead, they spend a substantial share of their energy especially during election campaigns on "firing up" pre-existing followers. The build-up of the political base is often considered to be less decisive than the mobilisation of the already existing political base.
This is very interesting even in a blog as this, for there are similarities to warfare. The modern idea of warfare is that forces shall be built up for (or preferably against) warfare. This sounds self-evident, but it wasn't always so. Up until medieval times, many kings weren't really able to build up forces. They had their vassals and vassal's vassals and the latter's servants. Preparations for warfare were often not so much about improving their equipment, horses, training or quantity as about ensuring their loyalty so enough would join the banner when the king calls.
This was even more extreme 2,000+ years ago when such codified leader-follower relationships didn't really exist. The leaders had to convince other men to join for a campaign, and had likely zero influence on which kind of equipment they brought along, or what kind of training they had. Leadership back then wasn't about building strength; it was about firing up the base in order to mobilise enough supporters for the moment of decision.
Just as in modern elections.
It's noteworthy that even as of today, the old warband model and the old behaviour patterns are still relevant. The rebels in Syria did not follow a pre-existing feudal model or were based on pre-existing government institutions. They developed bottom-up, and I suppose a close study would reveal patterns known throughout almost all known history. The very same patterns might also be of great utility not only in understanding what's going on elsewhere, but whenever we ourselves face great organisational challenges.
2009-12 Natural, self-organised units?
2010-10 Self-organization; Online gamer clans and Germanic warbands
2012-08 More on self-organisation