If you're gonna' fight, do it right!
Like it or not, confrontation of some type is a necessity in politics.
Instead of maintaining a defensive posture, we must seek out issues
where our opponents are vulnerable and be steady and unrelenting in the
promotion of our agenda.
So what are the attributes that are essential for more effective and successful confrontation?
We have reviewed some of the details previously, but I thought it would be good to put these ideas and links in one handy place.
With that in mind, here they are:
Effective confrontation requires a positive attitude.
Even though you may get dismayed (rightfully so) about the condition of our nation and society, you can’t let that keep you from staying positive.
Remember what you’re “selling”. You’re advocating your principles, and negativity isn’t going to help you “sell” them, because humans are naturally attracted to positive energy and excitement. They want to be a part of it.
People buy in to hope, (many times without thinking... see Obama, 2008). Despair they can get on their own.
As the saying goes, put on a happy face!
Public policy is all about politics…and politics is people.
Don’t rely solely on the legislative process and politicians to get accomplish your agenda. You have to engage the public. Specifically, you have to engage and activate those who are already predisposed to care about your issue.
Remember, that's why it's called "grassroots" lobbying...because you let others know about the issue and encourage them to bring pressure on their elected officials.
But that only works if you speak out and let them know about it.
(Check here for Six Tips for Grassroots Lobbying)
When you’re pushing an issue, don’t give your opposition time to breathe.
The more you maintain activity, the more you keep them in a reactionary mode.
Don’t let them collect their thoughts and figure out how best to derail your plans because you’re constantly ramping up the pressure…announcing new supporters…doing press releases or op-eds pointing to personal examples that show the logic of your position, or polls or petition announcements demonstrating its support.
All of this activity helps bolster your momentum - and keeps the opposition off balance.
The more time they spend reacting to you, the less time they have to go on offense themselves.
It’s a basic principle of negotiation in business that you should never to be the first one to name a price. Usually, that person loses.
When you throw out the first offer, you’ve given away valuable information and may be underselling yourself.
You can apply the same principle to the political arena.
Never be the first one to compromise. If you are, you’re probably losing something - and you're letting the opposition know how weak or strong you are. They will also know what you’ve got to give up, and then they’ll want more.
Take your time.
Gather information and carefully asses your strengths and weaknesses. Then see what they’re willing to put on the table.
The aggressor usually shapes the debate.
Whether you like it or not, this is just the way things are. This means that it’s generally best to be on offense so you can advance your agenda in the way you choose.
It’s even better if the opposition doesn’t know what’s coming. The more unprepared they are to respond, the less effective their response will be...meaning you're more likely to keep them on defense.
In American politics, liberals are usually the aggressor
Generally speaking, it's liberals who want to change the pre-existing, more conservative norms of society and government, (you know, "hope-n-change").
This fact has several ramifications:
“Framing the debate” is a strategic way to present issues in terms that help shape the debate in your favor.
Looked at another way, it's a way of controlling the ground you fight on. For conservatives, the best way to do this is to “get to the heart of the matter”, which is usually the liberal's Achilles’ heel.
Going on offense
When going on the offensive, if you fail to get to the heart of the matter, you’re likely to get sucked in to a debate that is centered on the liberal world view. In other words, you end up fighting on their terms. For example, on the issue of abortion, conservatives should always frame the issue on the heart of the matter: the life of the unborn child and its right to life.
Previously, we looked at the importance of confrontation, now we'll start looking at some tips on how to do it effectively.
Step number one: know yourself and your opposition
Over two thousand years ago, the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu wrote in the Art of War, "Know thy enemy as well as thyself". And it’s just as true when it comes to political activism as it is to military operations.
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