My mother, Phyllis Schlafly, had a political career of nearly 70 years, during which she learned the art of civic activism through trench warfare and positively impacted the lives of many. The problems of today can seem daunting, but fortunately we have the experiences of our elders’ available to us.
Here are the lessons I learned from my mom’s life in politics:
It’s never about the last election; it’s always about the next one. Win or lose on Election Day, the day after is the time to learn from your mistakes and evaluate your next move. The same theory holds true for votes in the legislature: Once the votes have been cast, organize for the next issue and the next vote, even if that is repealing the last vote. 1964 was a blowout loss – which depressed many Goldwater supporters, but for my mother, the lessons learned in that election made other victories possible.
A ballot does not contain an “explain your vote” section. People will vote with you for a variety of reasons. Accept their support; don’t criticize their reasons.
Not everyone will support you on every policy. Make alliances on each issue, not a total platform. People rate their issues differently from how you may prioritize yours, so work with anyone who will agree with you some of the time.
Don’t hold grudges. The art of politics is friendliness across the spectrum. If your personality is such that you tend to hold grudges, get out of politics. Your opponent in one legislative battle may be your best ally in another. Stay polite. For example, due to my mother’s kindness and professionalism, her Democratic U.S. senator never failed to wish her Happy Birthday. Stay in continual – and polite – conversations with everyone involved.
Expand your reach by making alliances across religions. Phyllis Schlafly was a Roman Catholic, but her supporters included Baptists, Church of Christ, Evangelical, Latter-Day Saints, Orthodox Jews, and more.
God is on your side, but God has a lot to do. Don’t count on God to stuff the ballot box; that’s your job.
Never apologize for your beliefs or stances, ever. Your supporters don’t need apologies, nor do they want to see weakness in a leader, and your enemies don’t value apologies. In the current political climate, the media is obsessed with getting conservatives to apologize for their beliefs. Their goal is to weaken our leaders; don’t let them win.
Everything you say or do is “on the record.” Never speak, write, email, text, post, or tweet anything that you do not want to be seen on the front page of a newspaper.
Frame the debate to win the debate. Don’t use the language that your opponents use; instead choose words that communicate your side of the issue, such as pro-life or “death tax” instead of “estate tax.” Recently, conservatives have been using the phrase “crony capitalism.” I object; there is nothing crony about capitalism. Cronyism is the elite playing favorites, which is the heart of communism. Don’t sully a good word like capitalism.
Distill your message to 60 seconds. Endlessly repeating the same message is very effective. When the media ask you questions on other topics, always answer with the message you want to send.
Choose your battles. There are countless harmful policies in the world, but not every battle is winnable. Choose battles that can be won. After all, winning is more fun than losing!
Accentuate the positive. Yes, you will lose battles, but they can become pyrrhic victories for your opponents. Barry Goldwater’s loss in 1964 led directly to Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 because conservatives spent 16 years building their grassroots. Learn the lessons of a defeat, but never dwell on the defeat (see Lesson No. 1).
Accentuate the negative. The easiest way to defeat bad legislation is to enumerate how individuals will be negatively affected by the proposed law. Make it personal and relatable.
Focus on the states. Most politicians are eager to get to the national limelight in Washington, D.C. But more action happens in the state legislatures. It’s easier to pass good bills and defeat bad ones in the individual states. Many are wooed by national news and not paying attention at the local level, so there’s a real opportunity for big policy wins. You can also groom the next generation of political leaders, who will remain indebted to you because you knew-them-when.
Thank people. After a vote is taken, most people move on to the next issue. Win or lose, thank those who were on your side. You want their support on the next vote, and honey catches more flies than vinegar.
Thank your supporters. Most people involved in politics are volunteers. Appreciation is their payment. Eagle Forum has given hundreds of Eagle Awards over the years to the volunteers who gave their precious time and energy.
One of my favorite quotes from my mother is, “Politicians usually have more votes before they speak than afterwards.” It is easier to like a candidate before you find out you do not agree with him/her on a particular issue. Get prepared and learn the issues that your particular audience is interested in and be ready to answer questions in a way that won’t lose their support. Plus, short speeches are more effective than long speeches. (Back to No. 9: distill your message to one minute. )
Be available. Don’t hide behind staff or layers of bureaucracy. Answer your own phone and email at any time. Our home phone number was always listed in the phone book.
Smile, smile, and smile again. Be happy and optimistic. Your supporters need encouragement, and your opponents are driven crazy by your joy.
Phyllis Schlafly was a successful grassroots organizer because she exemplified “what you see is what you get.” She believed in what she did, and her authentic voice is a model for all women. Adhering to these rules helped her, and those she counseled, win a lot of important political fights in her day. But these rules transcend time; they are ever-present in our national political scene. The philosophical base upon which they all sit is that truth, tenacity, and tireless effort can take you far — if you are willing to stand on the proper principles and fight your hardest, you put yourself in the best position of winning!
Greens face big challenges as COVID-19 transforms the political landscape – CBC.ca
The Green Party missed out on a golden opportunity in the 2019 federal election. The COVID-19 pandemic might rob it of another opportunity in 2020.
Poised for a historic breakthrough — at times running third in national polling, ahead of the New Democrats — the Greens made only modest gains in the last election. The party won just one more seat than it had going into the vote and increased its share of ballots cast to just 6.5 per cent, still lower than its best result in the 2008 election.
Now, with support for the federal Greens and their provincial cousins either stagnating or dropping as Canadians shift their concerns away from climate change toward the novel coronavirus pandemic and the economy it is gutting, the party faces significant challenges ahead.
Wednesday at 9 PM ET marks the deadline for nominations for the Green leadership race. As of Wednesday morning, there are six candidates officially in the running: Amita Kuttner, Dimitri Lascaris, David Merner, Glen Murray, Annamie Paul and Dylan Perceval-Maxwell.
Murray, a former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister, is the only candidate with elected experience, though all of the others have run for office under the Green Party banner at least once.
The candidates have until September to meet all eligibility requirements. The race is scheduled to conclude in October.
At the outset, the contest provided the Greens with an opportunity for renewal. Elizabeth May, who announced her resignation as leader in November, had been at the head of the party since 2006. But the pandemic has made it more difficult for the campaign to gain any traction.
It also has taken a toll on support for Green parties at both the federal and provincial levels.
Polls by the Angus Reid Institute and Léger published this week recorded national Green support at between five and seven per cent, virtually unchanged from where it was on election night. In British Columbia and Atlantic Canada, where the party holds its three seats, support was lower than it was in October.
The B.C. Green Party — which became the first Green Party in Canada to win multiple seats in an election when it took three in 2017 — had to postpone its own leadership race due to the pandemic. While polls suggest the party’s support is no higher than it was three years ago, the B.C. New Democrats under Premier John Horgan have opened up a wide lead over the B.C. Liberals; Horgan’s handling of the pandemic is getting high marks from British Columbians.
As partisanship drops, so does Maritime Green support
He’s not the only premier to experience a boost in support in recent weeks. Most premiers have — in part because the crisis has encouraged many of them to put partisanship aside and work collaboratively with other parties.
The desire for that kind of politics helped the Greens in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island make their big breakthroughs in the 2018 and 2019 elections in these provinces. But the pandemic seems to be sapping one source of the Greens’ political appeal by encouraging the governing parties to take a more cooperative, less partisan approach.
In New Brunswick, the latest Narrative Research poll found Blaine Higgs’s Progressive Conservatives leading with 48 per cent support, while the Greens trailed in third with 15 per cent. That is a drop of five percentage points for the New Brunswick Greens since February — and those are the kind of numbers that would give Higgs the majority government he was unable to win in 2018.
The poll found 41 per cent of New Brunswickers choosing Higgs as their preferred premier, an increase of 15 points since February. Green Leader David Coon fell four points to 14 per cent over that time.
In Prince Edward Island, where Peter Bevan-Baker’s Greens form the Official Opposition in a minority legislature, Dennis King’s governing PCs have surged nine points since February to 54 per cent support. The Greens dropped six points to 22 per cent, putting them in a tie with the Liberals.
While King jumped 15 points to 53 per cent as Islanders’ preferred premier, Bevan-Baker fell 10 points to 21 per cent.
Though it could be a momentary blip for the governing Tories in these two provinces (crisis-induced spikes in support don’t always last), it should worry the Greens that they appear to have taken a step back in two provinces that once showed great promise for them.
COVID-19 dwarfing climate change as an issue
But the real existential issue for the Greens might be the impact the pandemic has on Canadians’ concerns about climate change.
At the beginning of the year, Nanos Research found that the environment was being cited by 21 per cent of Canadians as the most important issue of national concern. The economy trailed in second with 15 per cent.
COVID-19 has completely dwarfed these issues; 50 per cent of those polled by Nanos in April cited the pandemic as the most pressing issue facing the country. It has since dropped down to 33 per cent, though that still makes it the top issue of concern.
The pandemic’s surge as a political issue has come at the expense of the environment, which is now listed by eight per cent of Canadians as the most important issue facing the country. But while the environment has lagged, concerns about the economy have increased — it is now cited by 23 per cent as the top issue.
It is possible that as concern over COVID-19 recedes (which may not happen soon, given the threat of a second wave in the fall), the environment will rise again as an issue. But the damage the pandemic has done to the economy makes it more likely that most Canadians will be focused on economic matters in the short- to medium-term.
The longer-term picture is harder to forecast. The last time the environment was the top issue in polling was in the mid-2000s, before the financial crash in 2008 pushed it to the back burner again. It took another decade for the environment to re-emerge as the top issue of concern for Canadians.
A survey by Abacus Data for Clean Energy Canada offered little clarity about the likely longer-term impact of the pandemic on public opinion. The poll found that 32 per cent of respondents agreed that the pandemic had led them to believe that the focus should be on the economy and health care rather than climate change. But an equal number said it made them feel that Canadians can and should make changes to how we live and work to fight climate change.
It all leaves the Greens and the six leadership candidates in a difficult spot. The progress the Greens have made over the last few years has been built primarily on two pillars: growing concern about climate change and fatigue with the old way of doing politics.
But the pandemic has shifted people’s priorities and demonstrated that traditional parties can put partisanship aside. Suddenly, those pillars look a lot less sturdy.
60 minutes of mayhem: How aggressive politics and policing turned a peaceful protest into a violent confrontation – CNN
Barr gave the order
Preparations for a speech
A violent advance
A walk to remember
A messy aftermath
“It’s Spiraling Out of Control”: Confronting a Failed Presidency, Trump Plays Politics With the Protests – Vanity Fair
Confronting a failed presidency after 100,000-plus COVID deaths and the protests that are still convulsing the nation this week, Donald Trump is venting to West Wing officials that Democratic governors are allowing civil unrest to rage in American cities to damage his reelection campaign. “He feels the blue-state governors are letting it burn because it hurts him. It’s a lot like how he sees coronavirus,” an outside White House adviser told me yesterday, shortly after audio leaked of Trump berating governors on a conference call about quelling the riots.
Trump’s sense of victimhood, and his view that the crisis ignited by George Floyd’s gruesome death is largely a political problem, have resulted in a shambolic White House response, veering from Trump’s retreat to the bunker as the protests neared the White House to the culmination of police using teargas on peaceful protestors so that he could walk through a park to stage a photo op in front of St. John’s Church. “He’s paralyzed,” a former West Wing official told me.
In private, Trump has told people the street violence would subside if the other three Minnesota police officers were charged with murder, a person who spoke with Trump told me. But, always worried about seeming weak, he made no mention of the officers or police brutality during yesterday’s Rose Garden speech. “When things get dicey and hairy, it usually means he relies on his instincts,” a former West Wing official said. “And he’s decided law and order is going to win the day.”
(The White House declined to comment.)
Trump was already struggling to reboot his campaign when the gruesome Memorial Day video leaked, showing officer Derek Chauvin driving his knee into George Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes as Floyd pleaded for his life. A day after Floyd’s death, Trump promoted two operatives into senior campaign roles, moves that were largely seen as a demotion for Trump’s embattled campaign manager, Brad Parscale. As protests and riots intensified last week, Karl Rove visited the White House to offer advice on appealing to African American voters, a source briefed on the conversation said. Rove’s new role as an unofficial adviser on Trump’s team rankled some in the West Wing and on the campaign. “People aren’t happy about Rove. He’s a Bushie,” the source said. “What’s he going to tell Trump? He’s stale.”
Trump at first seemed to ignore the protests. He didn’t mention Floyd’s name for two days. But by Friday, Trump grasped the scale of the crisis when Secret Service agents rushed him into the White House bunker as hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside the White House gates. “The agents came in and weren’t messing around. It was serious,” Trump later told a friend. “Those guys aren’t going to take any shit.” That night Trump sent out an incendiary tweet threatening that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” and another on Saturday about “vicious dogs.” “Trump is pissed that they’re rioting. That’s just the old guy from Queens who’s offended by this. That’s the Archie Bunker in him,” a Trump friend told me.
Around Trump in the West Wing was a fierce debate over how to respond. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, opposed chief of staff Mark Meadows’s advice that Trump needed to give an Oval Office address to unify the country. “Meadows was close friends with Elijah Cummings. He wanted a different approach,” a former West Wing official said. Kushner argued that Trump hasn’t been successful when he’s spoken from the Oval Office in the past, a source briefed on Kushner’s thinking told me, an assessment Trump didn’t disagree with. “Trump doesn’t like giving Oval Office addresses,” a prominent Republican told me.
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