I’m going to let you in on a little life secret: there are almost always two ways to go about doing anything. One is an effective way to achieve something, and the other is an ineffective way to achieve something.
For example, I have spent a good portion of my life battling my weight. For the vast majority of that time, my “battle” consisted of writing up lists of the foods I should eat and the exercises I should do, and creating little visual boards of how fabulous I would look when I lost the weight, the awesome clothes I would wear, the bikini I would buy…
I forgot one incredibly important detail, though – I didn’t actually DO any of it. Surprisingly – at least to me – my adventures in daydreaming did not magically make the weight fall off. Okay, shouldn’t have been surprising at all. But you get my drift.
It wasn’t until I started working with a trainer and making better food choices that I finally lost weight. Nearly 40 pounds down now, I’ve dropped several dress sizes and I’ve run into longtime friends who don’t recognize me when they see me.
I changed what I was doing from taking ineffective action to taking effective action.
This applies to just about anything in life. If you want to get ahead in your career, you’ll have to buckle down, work hard, and get better at your job in order to see any real progress, rather than just railing about how unfair it is that your employer doesn’t recognize your innate talent and make you the CEO. If you want to keep your car running, you need to do regular maintenance and not ignore the little light on the dash that says you’re leaking oil. If you want to have a comfy retirement, you have to save money now to make it happen rather than spending it all on partying.
This concept also applies to politics.
I have dedicated my life to seeing a restoration of our Republic to the country our Founders envisioned. All of my efforts are aimed at that goal. It is my purpose on this earth.
If I am to serve that goal well, I need to take effective action to reach it.
In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about paradigms as our personal maps of the world:
“Each of us has many, many maps in our head, which can be divided into two main categories: maps of the way things are, or realities, and maps of the way things should be, or values. We interpret everything we experience through these mental maps. We seldom question their accuracy; we’re usually even unaware that we have them. We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be.
“And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of those assumptions. The way we see things is the source of the way we think and the way we act.”
Very few of us would dispute the wisdom of this. The problem comes when we confuse the maps – when we think our values are an accurate reflection of reality.
When that happens, we get slapped in the face – pretty damn hard – by reality.
Things are never exactly the way we think they should be. If we are intelligent and trying to be effective, we’ll adjust our map and try to navigate the world as it actually is, working to make it more like how we think it ought to be.
Unfortunately, there are many folks in the Liberty Movement – the group of Constitutional Conservatives who evolved from the Tea Party – with very confused maps. They have exemplary maps of how things ought to be – maps I share, completely and totally. The principles of our Founding. Limited government. Personal liberty, and personal responsibility. Free markets. Basically, run down the list at Principles of Liberty, and you’ll see 100% of the things I believe in for this country, the things I’m working towards.
The question is, how do we get there from here? To do that, we have to have an accurate map of “here.” And this is where many in the Liberty Movement fall down. I see them navigating according to how they wish the world would be, and not according to how it actually is. Most importantly, because the world doesn’t work according to the model in their heads, they willingly sacrifice and sabotage any political success that doesn’t magically transform the world into what they want to see – they are not willing to take any steps smaller than a 100% realization of their dream.
It wouldn’t be so bad if this was just impractical. Most of us need our maps adjusted to some degree, and the fact that our maps are off base doesn’t really affect anyone else.
But the problem is that these folks take action to stop others from acting. As the self-appointed “conscience” of the Republican Party, they’ve taken on the mantle of the moral regulators, determined to halt and punish any effective action taken by someone in the party who is navigating according to reality instead of wishful thinking.
Worse, it’s actually destructive to efforts to implement the very principles they hold as dearly as I do.
I’ve understood for a long time that politics is a game of inches. We take every victory we can get. Every Republican victory in our state legislature contributes to majorities that we can wield. A Republican governor in 2018 means that we have a chance to redraw the legislative districts in a way that helps advance our principles.
We. Need. Every. Victory.
I don’t know how to stress this enough:
WE NEED EVERY VICTORY.
When I emphasize this to my friends in the Liberty Movement, I get accused of tribalism, of selling out my principles in service to the party. I’ve yet to have one of these obstructionists acknowledge that in the state legislature, majorities mean something. I’ve also yet to have one acknowledge the power of the governor in the reapportionment process, a process that will be vitally important in determining the future of our state over the next decade. And I’ve yet to have one acknowledge – based on the raw statistics in the Principles of Liberty data – that even the worst scoring Republican votes better than the best scoring Democrat, pushing our principles forward when our Democrat opponents won’t.
None of that seems to matter. The only objective appears to be party “purity.” They’re willing to sacrifice Republican seats, based solely on their assessment that the candidate isn’t “pure” enough in their beliefs.
Because the world doesn’t work the way they think it should, they want to just burn it all down.
And that, my friends, is the best way to be ineffective that I have yet found: substitute your view of how the world should work for reality, and then act in accordance with that faulty map of the world, actively shutting down anyone who is acting in accordance with a more accurate map.
If, however, you want to be effective in implementing your values – if you want to actually create change that moves us closer to what you value, to how you think the world should work – learn to be a keen observer of the real world. Learn to think about both where we are and where we should be. Strive to have the most accurate maps possible, so you can navigate in the real world towards your goals. And then take action that produces results in that real world.
If, like me, you believe we need Republican majorities that can be upgraded later if needed, work to get Republicans elected. If, like me, you believe we need to control the reapportionment process as much as possible in order to give future conservative legislation a fighting chance, work to put a Republican governor in office. If, like me, you revere the conservative principles that would make this country great again, support those who support those principles.
Not every candidate will be perfect. Not every race will be run exactly the way we hope. Not every vote is going to be 100% in line with what we believe and value. But if we’re going to make any progress in moving this country towards those principles, we need every hand on deck – from those who agree with us 50% of the time to those who are completely on board.
This is not tribalism. This is not sacrificing our principles. This is serving our principles in the best way we can, one step at a time.