(Note: This article is written with great respect to Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”)
Do you remember the movie, “Independence Day”?
Aliens were attacking Earth, so all warring factions and nations united against a common threat. Gone were personal agendas. Gone were establishment insiders perpetuating their power; walling out the little people. Gone also was any talk of standing aside in rebuke of despised leaders. You either united and fought, or divided and ran. No in between. No excuses.
Unite or die.
Coming from the Left, I know their leaders seek the removal of everything we hold dear—the end of America. Like locusts, today’s Democrat leaders feast on America’s waning prosperity, and only your freedom stands in their way. The aliens are already here, my friends.
Looking at Conservatives, do we see a united response? Hardly. Instead, we see anger, foolishness, envy, even dirty tricks (witness Mississippi). Sometimes accurately, sometimes not, each group comforts itself by blaming others—all while aliens position spaceships overhead.
Let me be crystal clear: This is war, and if we’re done making excuses instead of saying what needs to be said, I now offer…what needs to be said.
Four Groups, Four Messages
The following are things members of each group could say to opposing groups within the Right. Since there is no back and forth, each statement will have to suffice on its own. Some key ingredients are:
- Lead with the following 7-Habits-style statement:
“I won’t accept less than a win for both of us, as anything else leads to defeat. This isn’t naiveté; it’s realism. Neither my past mistakes nor yours control us today, so I won’t allow my bitterness—justified or not—to hold us back. Uniting around Individual Liberty—as opposed to the Left’s Collective Control—we can achieve great things. Yes, we’ll differ over how best to protect liberty and win politically, but our differences must teach us, not divide us. We must grow together, or we’ll die apart.”
To make all that short and sweet, just lead with, “We’re good.”
- Next, begin by trying to state the other person’s concerns before stating yours—and do it well. Prove you can do this when others believe you can’t.
- Next, honestly explain your concerns.
- Finally, commit to a mutually beneficial course—one that would allow you to support each other’s candidates this November, while forging a greater coalition in 2015.
“Okay…we’re good. You may think I judge you, or that I force my moral views—driving away votes. But honestly, I appreciate my fellow Conservatives. They don’t freak out when I say ‘Christmas,’ or act oppressed when God’s name is on public buildings. They see those things as part of our heritage—a heritage freeing them to believe what they want. Unlike the Left, Conservatives let me be me.”
“Sometimes, however, they want me to be me silently, hiding my views for political reasons. It seems when I do this, the country just drifts further from my beliefs—and it’s not like abandoning Christian morality has improved America. I hold my views for good reasons—proudly. I’ll support your candidates if they win the primaries, but I ask that you do the same for mine. I also ask to be treated as a fellow warrior for Liberty, not an embarrassment. Remember, I’m on your team—the media isn’t.”
“Let’s work together this November, with the pledge to unite even more afterward.”
Group 2 – Socially Liberal Moderate addressing Christian Right:
“Right back at ya’…we’re good. Truth is, while we don’t hold the same social views, I admire your willingness to risk backlash for your beliefs. That’s refreshing. I see you get mocked in movies and TV, and it’s ridiculous for your taxes to fund schools that teach against you. But they also teach against my political and economic beliefs, so we relate more than you think.”
Our movement lets us both speak freely, but some people belittle me because I’m not religious. Well, I just can’t make myself believe in God, and I don’t mind gays getting married or people smoking pot—but I won’t join the Left in attacking you. The Left wants to control my whole life. You don’t. Enough said.
I too am a warrior for Liberty. Beyond agreeing on that and voting together, I promise I’ll try to speak and listen respectfully. Please do the same. We’re on one team, both in this election and afterward.
Group 3 – “Establishment” Republicans addressing the Tea Party
“We’re good. I know you feel let down, watching a nation stray—and I know you believe I’m part of the problem. Well, my group hasn’t been perfect. Some centrist candidates have failed to draw clear lines between us and the Democrats—a death knell when the Left controls academia, entertainment, and the media. Pale pastels aren’t enough against all that. We need bright colors. We need you.”
“But we must speak to people where they are, not where we wish they’d be. Christine O’Donnell was a fine candidate, but Delaware’s voters had not been moved to where they’d accept her. The problem wasn’t O’Donnell, just as it wasn’t Angle, Buck, or several others. The problem was all of us, as we didn’t move public opinion first so such candidates could win. They were fine; we weren't. And just as moderate candidates have lost presidential campaigns, so conservative candidates—without a prepared landscape—have cost us as well.”
“Our civil war is disastrous. You feel cheated by the leadership—and sometimes you’re right. We feel attacked by Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, Ingraham—people we admire. It’s suffocating. Conservatism should be the Free Marketplace of Ideas, but it often feels like an arena where differing thoughts are punished; mine as well as yours. This has to end.”
“So, no more ‘beating those Tea Partiers in the primaries.’ Instead, I’ll support all GOP candidates—whether I backed them or not. Money must be targeted toward close races, but I’ll gladly share polling data and discuss how best to position ourselves. And in 2015, we’ll build anew.”
Group 4 – Tea Party addressing the “Establishment”
“Fair enough…we’re good. Sometimes I think Republicans have abandoned me; that they’re just like Democrats. I hear a comment from Boehner or McConnell, then see corruption like in Mississippi, but I forget how isolated these are compared to the Left’s all-out assault upon me. The truth is:
- It’s not Republicans mocking me in academia, movies, or on Comedy Central—it’s Democrats.
- It’s not Republicans saying I’m racist and comparing me to terrorists—it’s Democrats.
- It’s not Republicans targeting me with the IRS and EPA—it’s Democrats.
- It’s not Republicans planting people carrying bigoted signs at our rallies—it’s Democrats.
- And it wasn’t 41 out of 41 Democrat Senators voting against Obamacare—it was Republicans.”
“Too often, the GOP feels like a party of elites, not principle, but elitism won’t fix America. Only re-teaching Constitutional Conservatism can turn the tide, and I need total commitment on your part. Help me, and I’ll unite to win elections. I’ll even support moderates in states that won’t elect conservatives, so long as we’re united in making those states more conservative. But I haven’t seen this happening. Maybe I’m unfair, but I get that way when a Republican Chief Justice rescues Obamacare…or Chris Christie mocks the NRA…or GOP leaders discuss amnesty…etc.”
“Here’s my pledge: I’ll work with you, but this can’t end after Election Day. Let’s start fresh in 2015.”
Habit 7: Sharpening the Saw
You may consider those statements idealistic, but tell me this: What else will work? Suppose leaders from each group actually opened a summit by reading those statements. Might they listen more? Might they give unity a chance? As one who has seen it happen time and again in our “Unite the Right” workshops, I know for a fact they would.
So what is the 7th Habit? “Sharpening the Saw” means keeping all the other Habits sharp and fresh. Like exercise and prayer, the first six Habits are done over and over, not just once. Habit 7 is the Habit of renewal, allowing no setback to sidetrack us.
If you’ll allow me a scriptural reference, Proverbs 27:17 reads, “Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Why iron? Because iron isn’t too stiff and brittle; nor is it too soft and weak. Many metals, when struck against one another, either shatter or flop over. They don’t sharpen. They’re not strong enough. And neither are we, if we allow pains of the past to dictate our responses today—or worse yet, if we surround ourselves with like minds that barely “strike” us. In “Sharpening the Saw,” we develop the strength, vision, and wisdom to accomplish the impossible—a life free of addiction, a healed marriage, a growing business in hard times, or even a united Conservative Movement.
To sum up, The 7 Habits work like this:
Habits 1-3 = “I’m Free.”
Habits 4-6 = “We’re Free.”
Habit 7 = “I’m Staying Free. Are You In?”
Here’s the best part: As with bad habits like smoking or losing our temper, renewing the 7 Habits ingrains them in our character. Before long, no amount of meddling by Leftists will tear us apart.
In politics and in life, that day I stop excusing my actions through blaming others--the day I stop empowering their weaknesses to control me—becomes my Independence Day. I’m free. I’m powerful. And if Conservatives embrace this course together, they will share an even greater Independence Day…
…so all those aliens circling above won’t look unbeatable anymore.
Are you in?