(Note: This article is written with great respect to Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”)
Here comes another November, and once again, the Right is dividing itself out of existence:
• Establishment leaders consider “Tell everyone to shut up and get behind us!” a viable option.
• Tea Party leaders consider “Punish the Establishment by dividing our ranks and staying home!” a
• Social Moderates consider “Publicly disown the Christian Right!” a viable option.
• Conservative Christians consider “Abandon any candidate who doesn’t agree with us 100%!” a
Are these really options? Sure they are. Driving over a cliff is an option. Watching “The View” is an option. Driving over a cliff while watching “The View”—though redundant—is an option. Endless options exist, but many of them aren’t, you know, sane.
The reality is, we must unite or perish. It’s no one’s fault; there are too many Democrats. Like the young couple struggling with their checkbook, Conservatives lack the numbers to indulge every impulse. Without victory in November, our principles have no vehicle to enact them.
Am I asking us to just hold our noses and vote as one? No, that’s too limited. I’m asking us to change the thinking that produced our decline. Built on a shaky foundation of shared anger at the Left, our split coalition was inevitable—and can be remade on surer footing. Impossible? Not at all. Forgive my Empowerment Seminar rhetoric, but it’s time we realized that the sins of others do not dictate our response—WE dictate our response! We can choose a better way; and we can do it together.
For the good of America, the Right must unite. And since the best unity program I’ve seen is Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” my wishful plan will follow Dr. Covey’s steps.
Habit 1: Be Proactive
This means we do not let the words and actions of others dictate our response. WE dictate our response—that guy provoking us does not. WE chart our course. WE own our actions, since blaming others only achieves the goal of, well, blaming others.
Perhaps you represent the established GOP leadership, and are angry over losing winnable Senate seats in Delaware, Nevada, Colorado, and elsewhere with Tea Party candidates. Or perhaps you are a Tea Partier, and are angry over an ultra-corrupt primary in Mississippi, lost presidential elections with moderate candidates offering uninspiring messages, or nasty words from Mitch McConnell.
Then here’s an opportunity: You can lash out, letting the actions of others control your response, or you can free yourself; choosing to learn from—not dwell in—the past. You can be better than the forces attempting to program you. You can create. You can choose better options. You can Be Proactive.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Aiming for nothing, we’re bound to hit it. So now that we’re free to create, let’s start by creating realistic goals, never allowing the foolishness of others (or ourselves) to wreck our focus. After all, what do we really want politically? What’s our endgame? Let’s aim before firing.
For me, the goal is simple: I want Americans to fall in love with America again. I want us all to embrace individual liberty, not collective control; and sadly, this requires defeating a political party wholly devoted to collective control—the Democrats. I don’t want others forced to hold my personal views, but I do want the freedom to hold my views openly—and I want the same for those disagreeing with me. I want government to protect our liberty, not intrude upon it. To sum up all my political beliefs, I want to control my own life, not yours.
That’s my goal, and from what Conservatives of every stripe have told me, it is shared. Alas, the goal can only be achieved through voting majorities, and that requires unity. No other way exists. So, before I act (or “pro-act”), I must arrange my steps away from division that loses, toward the unity that wins.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Dr. Covey used a great illustration here by setting containers of rocks on a table—one with big rocks, another with much smaller rocks, and so forth. He then challenged people to get all the rocks into a final container. The point was simple: When we add the little ones first, the rocks won’t all fit. We must first add the big rocks, letting the smaller rocks and sand sift in as we add them later. Eventually, we fit everything in—achieving far more than we thought possible.
This is true when organizing our lives. Obsessing over smaller things, we realize decades later that the big things remain unaddressed—our lives are too full for them. Thus, we age and die without ever reaching our Habit 2 goals.
Restoring America can’t happen without defeating or converting those who oppose America’s restoration. So, here are some big rocks: We must unite our side and draw others to it—both now and going forward—and these things require a new message and arrangement. I don’t say this lightly, as if everyone’s concerns are minor—we’ll address those with later habits. But obsessing over intramural battles for control of the Right only guarantees success for the Left; and this leaves our goal of restoring America to age and die, because big rocks are still “on the table.”
For example, a Christian like me may see fighting abortion as the only goal (and I think it’s huge), whereas a social moderate might deem skyrocketing national debt to be our great enemy (he too would have a point). Another Conservative might see gun rights as the big issue, while yet another might stress securing our borders, while others still might emphasize energy independence or school choice. But none of these can be addressed with a fractured Conservative Movement that fails to draw converts! Our divided numbers make all other goals unattainable, so we address these big rocks first.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Restoring foundational principles comes first!” Hey, I agree. But the very process of uniting us and drawing others will revolve around foundational principles, while never casting aside the need for political success. Work with me here.
While these first three habits unleash and refocus us as individuals, the next three unleash and refocus us as a group. But don’t skip any steps. We can’t set proper goals (see Habit 2) while still embracing victimhood through allowing the sins of others to control us (see Habit 1). And as goal-less victims, we’ll never arrange our lives toward moving big rocks (see Habit 3), since those will appear immovable.
Victims don’t create; they merely protest, retreat, or plot revenge. Have you ever explained the greatness of free markets to victims? Good luck. Bound in bitterness, they find hope in lowering the bar of success to “all my failures are caused by others.” This is why limiting others becomes a goal in itself, whereas unleashing oneself becomes a pipe dream (quite literally a pipe dream, here in Colorado).
Ironically, we Conservatives--all of us—have begun reveling in the same excuse, and so have become as hopeless as the societal victims to whom we preach. Paralyzed by the actions of others, we gear our efforts toward little rocks (like controlling or abandoning the GOP) with no hope of sustaining big rocks (like restoring America). Eventually, limiting those we despise becomes a goal in itself, as if “I told you so!” after Election Day is somehow equal to “We won!” No big rocks are moved, and the despair within us grows. America spirals down. Hope is lost. By the way, this hopelessness is the entire reason I (along with my patient wife) created The Party Of Choice.
My friends, we aren’t victims. We are Conservatives. We are bigger than the problem, and the only thing preventing us from conquering it is our choice not to do so. That can—and must—be fixed. This first half of my message was for re-orienting us all toward a winning mindset. The second half will apply that winning mindset toward a winning strategy.
I’ll see you then.