And how to help them do so before it's too late. by John Armstrong
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Note: Most of this Article was originally posted in December under the Title "All the Money in the World Can't Buy Friends: Why Real Republicans Don't support Ron Paul." I have left it in its original form with minor typo corrections, but the message is more important now than ever as Hickory Hendrickson's Article reminded me, which is why I reposted it today. Just as we ask people to not throw away the message because of the messenger; I am not writing this in an attempt to be "right" or speak for all of us. I just want to offer some advice I learned in the real world when it comes to influencing people. Please don't throw away the message because of the messenger. The article begins below.
Ron Paul supporters have a bevy of claims as to why the Polls aren't indicative of the campaign's true strength. Here are some of the claims they use to dispute the results of scientific polls or attempt to prove the true strength of their candidate:
The Polls only call people with landline phones, and most people under thirty don't have landlines (which seems to be one of the demographics where Paul fares best).
The Polls only call people who are "likely republican primary voters." This means they voted last time around in the Republican Primary. Since President Bush was basically running unopposed last election, the number of people who actually voted in the primaries was a historically low 6-8%. Obviously, they claim, this misses a lot of Republicans and all of the independents.
They also point to the fact that the Republican base has shrunk due to the displeasure with the Iraq situation and point to the sweeping Democratic victories of 2006 as evidence for this.
They also point to their online success via meetup groups and campaign volunteers. The problem with this is just as landline phones mainly measures the support of older people, online support mainly measures support of younger people. And young people have historically been very unlikely to actually show up on election day.
They point to their success in straw polls, but if the landline polls are inaccurate because of the sample size the straw polls are even more so.
They point to the former apathetic voters who have been attracted to the campaign. How likely are these voters to actually trudge through the snow in Iowa during a BCS football game?
They point to the 100,000+ individual donors and the $15,000,000+ that have been raised this quarter. This is impressive, but there are more people who watch Bill O'Reilly nightly than who have given to the Ron Paul campaign in the entire quarter. And this is the Republican Base.
So if the polls say that Congressman Paul's support is in the single digits among the people who are most likely to vote (although it is rising), why is this? As Bill Parcells says, "You are what your record says you are." You can come up with a bevy of reasons and excuses for your record, but at the end of the day you are what your record says you are. So I'm not addressing the "total" support of Ron Paul (I'm starting to believe that may be impossible to do), I'm addressing why it is that more of the mainstream Republicans don't.
So why doesn't Ron Paul poll higher among Mainstream Republicans that he very much needs to capture the GOP nomination?
The issue is certainly not the message itself. If Republican voters truly understood Ron Paul's views, they would understand that he is the truest conservative in the race, is the most honest, would protect their religious freedoms more than any other candidate, lower their taxes, and actually has a plan to truly win the War on Terror while strengthening national security. All of his supporters know this, and it is why they are so vociferous in terms of espousing their opinions. So why isn't the message reaching the Republican Party Loyalists? We could blame the "Mainstream Media" or the "Mindless toeing of the Party line" but instead, let's look at it from their point of view.
Let's start with his supporters (of which I am one if you couldn't tell). If you read this from Dale Carnegie's famous book called How to Win Friends and Influence People, you will quickly notice afew of things we are doing poorlywhen reaching out to this group of future Ron Paul supporters. The two biggest are--Never Criticize, Condemn or Complain, and the second is-- Show Respect for the other people's Opinions--Never tell someone they are wrong. There are others as well, and if you read the link, you'll be quick to notice them. Remember that the Republican Base is not our enemy. If Dr. Paul has a chance of winning the GOP nomination, we need to INFLUENCE them.
Think about how you feel when you someone calls you a "Paultard." Don't you immediately close off and want to attack? Has anyone who ever used this term had any influence in the way you think other than strengthen your resolve to defend what you already believe? When Dr. Paul addresses the issue of "how would we feel if China were building bases in Texas" to explain his non-interventionist foreign policy, we applaud. What's the difference between this example and what we do when we attack our fellow Republicans (even if it makes you cringe to think of yourself as a Republican, you are one now if you plan to vote for Dr. Paul--and if he wins and shows people what a Republican actually stands for, you'll probably stay one for life)? How do you feel when they attack you?
Whenwe call someone a "Neo-Con",stupid, or any other derogatory term, we isolate them immediately. These people love America, too. They aren't trying to destroy our country. Imagine a little kid trying to help its mom do dishes. It really wants to help, but keeps breaking dishes. What's more imporant--a broken dish, or yelling at the kid, breaking its spirt, and making it never want to help again. No matter how many dishes our current politicians have broken, they really were trying to help. There isn't a single law they passed that didn't have good intentions--regardless of whether or not it they had the Constitutional authority to actually pass the bill.
Try to understand where they are coming from. People absolutely hate to be wrong or feel stupid. While you may not agree with them, try to empathize first. From a decade and a half of very successful professional sales experience and dealing with tens of thousands of people, I can tell you without a doubt that it is better to start out by saying "I understand your concern" or "help me understand how you feel" (as in, "I understand your concern, help you understand how you feel that bringing the troops home to be with their families means Dr. Paul doesn't support them" or "I understand your concern about whether or not Ron Paul is a Real Republican, but help me understand how someone who has been a Republican for 30 years, and a libertarian for one yeartwo decades ago isn't really a Republican" or "help me understand how you feel that bringing our troops home from all over the world and back to the United States would make us less safe or bringing our National Guard home would hurt our National defense" or "I understand your concern that we need to win the war, but help me understand how we will know when we have actually won? Didn't President Bush declare 'Mission Accomplished' a few years ago? Please help me understand" than it is to start out saying "You are an idiot and your apathy and mindless following are destroying our country."
Nobody wins an argument. While you may get to feel smart when a ton of other Ron Paul supporters come to support you on the message boards and bash some "neo-con idiot", in the end this is just one less vote for Dr. Paul because we turned them off. For an example of statesmanship, just look at what Ron Paul himself had to say when asked about Mitt Romney's religion and his own personal faith. Just as Dr. Paul asks people about how they would feel if China was in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico setting up bases, you have to ask yourself how you feel when people attack you as a Ron Paul supporter to understand how our future GOP friends we will influence feel when we attack them.
Remember that most people in America still don't know who Ron Paul is. Heck, for that matter, they don't even know who Barack Obama is. By the time next November rolls around, only 50-60% of eligible voters will even bother to show up and vote at the General Election, much less primaries. The Republican Constituency that will vote doesn't understand Dr. Paul's policies; and if we turn them off to him, they will never bother to find out about him.
As I was watching the GOP debate on PBS the other day, I noticed that when Dr. Paul was talking about the war, his support graph reached its lowest point. Why would this be? Well, most of the politicians the mainstream GOP'ers are used to hearing talk about the war are Democrats (who actually weren't against the war in the beginning, but are now that it is politically convenient to be). They have never watched this YouTube video of an interview with Ron Paul BEFORE the Iraq War. If you asked most Republicans Party Loyalists (let's call them RPL's--Ron Paul Latecomers--for short) if they would have supported the war in 2002 if there had been absolute certainty that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction and that Saddam Hussein posed no threat to our national security, many would say no. You could then point them to this video to show that Ron Paul's opposition to the war isn't based in political convenience but in research and commitment to the constitution while many of the Republicans based their decision in fear of going against the President. The people who won't support Ron Paul because of the war believe that not supporting the continuation of the war means that we would be less safe, un-patriotic, or that they don't support the troops. If they weren't turned off by our rhetoric, they may be willing to seek information and understand that the opposite is true (like I did, and likely many of you did).
Another thing to realize is that most people don't believe that the sky is falling. As my RPL friend texted me after reading one of my articles the other day, "I'm just hoping the barbarians don't climb over our city walls and ruin our empire just yet." They don't have a problem with the Patriot Act because (well, it is called the Patriot Act and it makes sense that you would support it if you are a Patriot) and if it helps catch terrorists, then it must be a good thing. They personally don't have anything to worry about because if they talk about things like picking Bobby up from soccer practice the government isn't going to come raid their homes. They don't have a problem with the War on Drugs, because locking up drug pushers is a good thing. They don't have a problem with fighting terrorists abroad so that we don't have to fight them over here. They don't understand the issue with the dollar eroding. They've heard politicians talk about lowering taxes forever and are immune to that. Just as a mom may recognize a slight aberration in her baby's eating pattern and due to that recognition take it to the Dr. and prevent a major problem due to early detection, we recognize that the issues that the average nonplussed voter isn't bothered with today portend greater problems to come. Most of the voters we are discussing are sitting around saying at best "Yeah, the baby's not eating tonight; it's probably just not hungry." If these people realized that the baby was actually their baby, they may at least go listen to the "Dr.'s" advice. This is the importance of appealing to each of these future Paul-Bots at an individual level.
It's important to remember this when talking to our RPL friends that extreme fervor has been associated for so long with liberal democrats (which Dr. Paul is the antithesis of), that when we sound like one (and if you are a liberal democrat who supports Ron Paul, thanks, but can we tone it down just a little for the polite, genteel, church-going crowd for just a little while, please), it makes it even harder for these people to associate with us. Remember the Howard Dean "Scream"?
Instead, let's use our knowledge of issues to present them in a way that appeals to each RPL as an individual (after all, isn't this what the campaign is really all about and why all of us are so fired up? We believe that each of us as an individual really matters). Instead of talking to these RPL's about how the war in Iraq is wrong because we were lied to (by the people the people the RPL's ardently support in part because he has been attacked so much--not unlike why we support Dr. Paul more fervently when he is attacked) and because soldiers are dying (most RPL's would tell you that, while it is tragic, it is part of their job description and that they died doing what they wanted to do--serving their country with honor), ask them what they would buy if they had $13,000 extra for Christmas (which is how much the estimated $1.2 TRILLION the war has cost so far divided by the number of tax returns filed where the family actually paid taxes--and keep in mind this is for tax returns--not individual tax payers, while the amount each individual would owe varies based on income, it still provides a good metric). Ask them if they had $13,000 what kind of home security system they could buy to protect them from terrorists. Ask them if they'd consider sending any of that extra money to the families of the troops who have died for them since the troops themselves wouldn't be able to personally support their families anymore. This brings the issue home a little more.
Let them know that you don't believe that war is wrong in principle (meaning to defend our nation), and that Dr. Paul would support a war if it were justified. Tell them he proposed a motion that would have allowed for a formally declared war on Iraq that would have solved all of these funding for support of the troops and really allowed us to win, but nobody in Congress wanted an actual up and down (Constitutional) vote on the war resolution.
Instead of talking to our future friends that we are influencing about how drugs should be legalized, ask them if they would write a check for $600 (the amount so far this year) that would go to provide free housing and food for drug dealers and ensure that our law enforcement officials would be faced with life-threatening situations on a nearly nightly basis. Frank Luntz does this all the time. It's how you phrase the question. Ask these RPL's if they could give that $600 to their church instead how much that would do to help keep people off drugs and help people who were already addicts or their families by increasing missionary outreach programs. Ask them if they or their kids would use drugs even if they were legal. And if they say they are worried about the "other" people, ask them at what point they decided that the Federal Government should replace churches in instructing people how to live their lives; and again if that money went to churches instead of the federal government, wouldn't it be better used? Or better yet, don't talk about the War on Drugs at all. It's not worth discussing with the audience we are discussing here unless they bring it up.
Instead of talking to our RPL friends about school vouchers, ask them if the $773 they spent last year on other people's kids to go to college, to promote bilingual education, administer a national test that makes kids less motivated to do well and learn in class because if they pass the test they pass the year, and pay for people to sit in Washington and decide whether or not their school should give out free condoms and teach evolution would have helped them buy school supplies or pay for a private school.
Ask our RPL friends who will help us win Super Tuesday (if not Iowa and NH due to time constraints) how they feel about banning school prayer and not being able to display the Ten Commandments in courthouses; then show them this liberal article bashing Dr. Paul for supporting those things. Ask how they feel about abortion, and show them this. Issues like this may not matter to a lot of Dr. Paul's supporters, nearly as much as let's say the destruction of our dollar, national sovereignty or following the Constitution and restoring our liberties, but they are paramount amongst the people we used to call "neo-cons." Isn't RPL a much better dual meaning euphemism?
Remember that one of the Six Ways to Make People Like You as stated in Dale Carnegie's book is to "Talk in terms of the other man's interest." I think all of us already on the Ron Paul bandwagon have agreed that there are some issues on which we don't agree with him. But I also think that we all agree with him on the biggest ones that really matter and firmly believe that he would uphold his Oath of Office. If he were elected and we didn't support something he proposed or vetoed, we'd know it was for good reason based on our Contract With Our Government (popularly known as the Constitution) and not to satisfy a special interest group. Let's not let the little issues (to many of us) get in the way of nominating the right man for the job.
We are about to ride a big push in publicity caused byDecember 16th's Tea Party. This publicity will cause a lot of people to "Google" Ron Paul. I strongly urge all of my fellow Ron Paul supporters to do what you can to really help promote the cause of liberty instead of running around and trying to make RPL'sfeel like idiots for believing what they have believed for a long, long time (for some of them their entire lives). Remember that it's been awhile since politicians actually did their job--everyone knows this; but most people don't think that there's anyone who is truly different.
Our job should be to help our GOP brethren remember what the true job of politicians is (upholding the Constitution in order to secure our liberty) and then get them to help us nominate the one man who has a 20-year track record proving he will do it without fail. Let's use this opportunity to truly Win Friends and Influence People. If we don't use this incredible opportunity properly, we would have been better served spending the money we used for "Tea" on our families' Christmas presents as well.
Your Fellow American,
P.S. While we must do all we can to elect Ron Paul, even he would likely say the bigger issue is making people aware of the very real issues we are facing as a nation. Maybe Ron Paul can be our keyword search long after he is gone. I'll let smarter people than I decide that, but we need to stay focused on the issues. If you see an article that makes sense, send it in to your local newspaper. Edit it if you like. Say you wrote it (if it's one of mine, I don't care--I don't do this for money or recognition). Print it and send it to people who don't use email. Make copies for your meetup groups to hand out. Whatever. Just spread the word like some other Patriots spread Thomas Paine's Common Sense pamphlets back in the day.
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Very good advice for the over excited but well intentioned supporters. To bring the message to the people, the messenger must look and feel credible to the people, otherwise the message will not get through. Some corporate training in salesmanship and communication is essential for any sales job and political message is no exception.
Posted By: Dirty Little Secret
Date: 2008-01-13 06:05:52
Very poignant. Sort of like being an atheist about an omnipotent, omniscient, and all-loving god. The facts of the world tell you clearly that the odds of such a god are quite small, yet 90 plus percent of society tell you that you are the one who is the nut. Paul is a great man with a great platform (um, it's called the Constitution), but the chances of the other 90% of Americans getting it are like an atheist's chance of converting an evangelical church to atheism. Most people want to believe in an all-loving, all-powerful god with universal happy endings. Most people would rather believe the terrorists hate us because we're free. Most people would rather get bennies from the Federal Government. Most people would rather think the War on Drugs is winnable. Most people don't realize they are dumb. Best hope at this point for the Constitution is either a) Paul breaks off and runs independent having announced it at a really well-broadcasted opportunity (e.g. in the middle of a GOP debate, walking off stage?) or b) Paul inspires some younger leaders who look and talk like Barak Obama or Mitt Romney (i.e. polished, with a good suit) and we take this up again next era. Short of these two courses, this campaign looks permanently stalled to me. Life is life.
There is a tactical point here that eluded me until just now after reading this article and the links. The goal in the short term is for Congressman Paul to obtain the GOP nomination. The goal in the longer term is for Ron Paul to be elected President. There is a tension between these two goals.
In order to get the GOP nomination, it's necessary to appeal to those who currently identify themselves as Republicans. But the GOP 'tent' is sharply divided between the apparent majority at the moment and for the past few years whose understanding and demographics are in their essence socially conservative in thought, word and deed, and fiscally conservative or constitutionalist as an afterthought, and those increasingly in the minority since Robert Taft's day, who are constitutionalist and fiscally conservative in thought, word and deed, and socially conservative secondarily or even socially liberal. The foreign policy preferences and consequently the views on the war tend to split along the same divide, although I'm still unable to understand quite why this is so. One might rightly say that this is not your father's or your grandmother's GOP.
Not only is there a split within the GOP between the historical conservatives (who include the small-l libertarians within the GOP), and the 'new' conservatives, but the leadership of the latter have done everything in their power to marginalize and demonize the former, while trying to fly under the 'conservative' banner. (Not unlike the way that many classical liberals assert the term 'liberal' was hijacked by socialists in the 30's and afterward.)
While in some venues independents can vote in primaries or non-Republicans can cross over, mostly it is the current Republicans who are doing the voting and who will bestow the GOP nomination. So as the article implies to get past the first hurdle, it is necessary to appeal and find commonality with a group whose majority at the moment in terms of priorities and style, is out of step with its historical roots. WE who support him understand why Paul is a Bob Taft/Barry Goldwater conservative, but THEY who don't yet support Paul are puzzled by it. While this is sad, it is also reality.
The reality forces us to emphasize for purposes of the nomination the points where there is both stylistic and substantive congruence between Ron Paul and the current majority within the GOP. And the problem is that in some cases those points are the very points about Ron Paul that gall the socially liberal constitutionalist minority within the current GOP as well as the socially liberal folks outside the GOP.
My point is that the very things which might make Paul more appealing to the GOP as it is currently constituted will be the biggest liabilities to a November election victory once the GOP nomination is secured.
Only by using our Constitution as a template is it possible to reconcile without hypocrisy, the acceptability of Ron Paul to both the GOP in its current incarnation, and to the American electorate as a whole. And that is a very abstract argument to make in an era of soundbites, particularly when the opposing forces on all sides (within and outside the GOP) have no compunction about using misrepresentations, smears and dirty tricks to derail the Paul campaign.
In my own case, I personally don't have much personal contact or involvement with Republicans of the 'new conservative' stripe, only with Bob Taft Republicans, libertarians and liberals. At this stage it is a tough sell with the liberals who choke on a few of the positions Paul prefers, such as his identification in a very special way that is not (but superficially sounds like) the conventional position of the pro-life faction.
But the key thing at this point is not to win the hearts and minds of the others outside the GOP. I myself have been jumping the gun. I think we all may have been. At the end of the day, the only person with whom any of us agrees 100% about everything is ourself.
I voted for Ron Paul in 1988 and have sent contributions to his Congressional campaigns many years since despite a handful of differences that stuck in my throat then and now. Probably the same kind of process accounts for the mutual admiration society between Congressman Kucinich and Congressman Paul. Not for reasons of cynicism, but for reasons of fundamental agreement on certain key urgent things and a willingness to address the areas of disagreement only after the urgent commonalities have carried the day, it is possible to reconcile the disparities.
The challenge for the short term is to forge a similar understanding within the GOP of the commonalities between the two factions. I've seen Ron Paul attempt to do that and be rebuffed so far [most disappointingly with Mitt Romney when Paul wisely noted that one's religious denomination is outside the purview of political debate, and Romney failed to even be courteous in return]. In the GOP of 2008 there exist few credible would-be 'fusionists' like the late Senator John East (NC), and their presence is sorely missed.
One more thought: It would be a startling shakeup if Senator East's former colleague Senator Helms, who in retirement still has great credibility with the GOP majority (or some other elder GOP figure held in similar esteem by that group) were to weigh in with a bridge-building gesture toward the Ron Paul wing of the GOP.
Sadly, everyone active inside the republican party (and the democrats as welI) has a hand in the cookie jar. Almost by definition, the politically active American has a vested interest. Almost all those interests conflict with RP's platform - the US Constitution. Therefore, most of RP's support has come and will continue to come from outside the political party machines.
In America today, that may make Dr. Paul unelectable, unless some unexpected (unplanned) crisis in the next few months forces the hand of the American people into a huge backlash against the government's business as usual.
IMHO, an independent run by Dr. Paul under business as usual conditions would be about as useful as Perot's, and with the same effect.
The only way to awaken the American people to our incredible opportunity of electing a constitutionalist president in 2008, is to tip the hand of the ruling elite, and that can only happen in a genuine and hugely serious crisis, that evokes martial laws and the complete suspension of habeas corpus.
John, you've hit a number of nails on their heads.
Thus far, Paulites have placed far too much emphasis on poll watching, boycotts, battles against the MSM, etc. I believe this is a negative resultant of a decentralized campaign - the grass roots need a bit more direction and focus. We see that the RP campaign committee is now beginning to step up to the plate in this area.
Initially, our main priority was boosting Dr. Paul's name recognition. While that will always be on the agenda so long as the MSM intentionally ignores him, we have generally failed at focusing on the most important aspect of campaigning - effective voter conversion. The timing of your article is indicative of this problem as this task should have been pushed as a priority months ago.
To say that it is too late to do so would be pessimistic negativity, but the realist in me must acknowledge that this mistake could cost us the difference between victory and defeat. We (the grass roots) simply must invest a little of our time learning how to become better "sales people" before we hit the streets. With regard to that endeavor, your suggestions are right on target!!! Your analysis is spot-on and the lack of taking such an approach is probably what has prohibited the growth of our ranks to that which we had all expected.
I will be posting a link to your article throughout the "Ron Paul World".
Bad Manners have been rejected and condemned throughout milleniums. While I do enjoy the enthusiasm and awareness that Ron Paul's message has awaken in people generally in apathy about politics and to see young people this excited, for me is a delight. But that enthusiasm has been crossing the bad manners too often and as always, creates bad will. This is why Public Relations go a lot further; it handles instead the human emotion and reaction while molding public opinion.
There's a thing called "Necessity Level" and it's very true that it exists and in fact we're looking at it with the complacency you laid out in your article. "Necessity Level" is defined as "that ammount of urgency necessary in the environment to get motion in present time". The people that don't see much wrong with the Patriot Act, Real ID, HR 1955 etc. as you explained, do NOT have the necessity to oppose it nor do anything about it. "Things aren't that bad at all" and we'll continue to drive our SUVs, and life goes on.
Back in 1776 when they were sitting at the table writting the declaration of independence I can swear that things were a bit worse than they're now. Your worst thoughts today (even if legitimate) were a reality back then. They had to act. The necessity to change things was there to cause the motion for the revolucionary war. BTW, not everyone agreed with the revolution; didn't share the same reality and there were those who sided with the British!! familiar?
My point is that manners are very important and strategic. Has to be observed while we pour the coals to spark a bigger fire towards a constitutional america, once again. It may be some time and it make take some doing but the bottom line is people need to be educated (thanks to the Dpt. of Education a lot of people can't read) on what is america and hope that we don't have to wait until your home is raided by contractors before we do something about it.