…and How Several Years of Successful Coaching Shows Me Why Republicans Will Lose in the Election
I’ve been a Republican since I registered to vote 32 years ago, and though I’ve had my ups and downs with political involvement over the years, I always have been an apt observer. This coming presidential election has especially piqued my interest because it has been amazing – and horrifying and even a bit amusing – to observe the Republican strategy in the race up to the election. This amazement comes from having been a coach of various sports over the years. I have a winning record in all the sports I’ve coached, and have four championships under my belt for my high school roller hockey team.
Not to say that I’m a great coach – everyone has room to improve – but I did learn quite a bit from studying successful and arguably great coaches such as Bill Walsh and Herb Brooks. From what I observed, a huge part of their success was simply teaching what it takes to develop a team with a winning attitude. We could talk about collaboration and cooperation and such, but there’s one thing that I learned as a coach that you never do: Ever mention or plan my game around the word “lose.”
And from that, I don’t mean don’t play the game to not lose, but also don’t play the game to make the other team lose. What? Not play the game to make the other team lose? What’s THAT about, you might say. Basically it’s this: If you plan your game around the mindset of making the other team lose, what you’re doing is projecting onto the other team your own idea of what it means to lose. Ultimately, your mindset will be your undoing. We can’t possibly know what the other team thinks with respect to losing, so if we project our sense of losing onto the other team, we essentially end up focusing on what will make us lose, and ultimately play a game of “not-losing vs. losing” as opposed to winning vs. losing. The best we can hope for in that scenario is a draw.
A good example of this comes from a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Peak Performance” where Data plays a rather arrogant opponent in a game of Stratagema.
When I saw this years ago, the one thing that struck me in Data’s explanation of beating Kolrami was that he was playing to a draw. But I looked at it the other way. Kolrami had projected what his “values” of he believed would make his opponent lose onto Data. Data didn’t just didn’t play the game that way, and though he technically did not win the game, he played it in such a way to force Kolrami to withdraw.
And this is EXACTLY what I’m observing in the GOP right now. They’re playing the election game very much like Kolrami, and frankly, with all the absolutely STUPID stuff the leadership is spouting, such as John Boehner’s repeated claims of the “unconstituionality of Obama-care” though the US Supreme Court ruling completely blows that out of the water, they’re doing a great job of it. We have also had to hear every single Republican representative say in the press, “Our goal is to make Obama a one-term president.” Every time I hear that I have to laugh because that is exactly the kind of rhetoric Obama wants to hear. The GOP has essentially stated their entire strategy, and it’s working in Obama’s favor. His job approval ratings (Gallup) are starting to trend upward. The GOP will state that his job approval ratings are historically low as compared to other presidencies. But the only thing that matters is where they’re at in this current election year, and should they press above the 50% mark, the GOP can kiss the election goodbye.
The net result for the GOP? Since they’re all partaking in the same strategy, the GOP presidential nomination is frankly, still up in the air. Though Romney won Florida, his lead of 31% vs. Gingrich’s 26% isn’t significant enough for him to claim victory. Plus, 31% is not really a number about which to be ecstatic. If the numbers were in the 40’s that would be a different story, but as the numbers don’t lie, it is easy to interpolate that the Republican Party is generally fractured on who to follow. Not good.
And based upon those numbers, I’m apt to yet again vote outside the party. I have zero confidence in Romney, whom I see as simply buying the election with his riches and well-funded super-PACs. I was hopeful that Gingrich would fare better, but he has his own skeletons in the closet to deal with, and makes me seriously doubt his ability to lead the country. As such, there’s really no one in the GOP race that appears to me to be an outright leader. I realize that the number will go up as more candidates leave the race. But I also see that as those supporters settling for the remaining candidate(s). I would much rather see someone who’s garnering support organically rather than through inheritance.
Obama, on the other hand, has been quietly going about his business, and no matter what the hyperbole of the GOP may state, his policies have had success. Do I like the fact that he didn’t act much stronger on the Wall Street executives? Not at all. Do I like Obama-care? I’m a bit on the fence with that, but it has not killed jobs as the GOP keeps touting, and it has cost FAR LESS than what idiots like Michell Bachmann, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin have made so many believe.
I never did dig the bailout, but understand why it had to happen, though I’m hopeful that legislation will pass that will prevent institutions from growing too big to fail. And mind you, those institutions were allowed to grow that big due to the rescinding of regulations under the Clinton and Bush administrations. Obama inherited a shit sandwich, and though I’m a Republican, I have to say that he’s done okay given the circumstances under which he took the presidency.
In any case, I believe that the only way for a true GOP leader to surface among the mediocrity that’s present in the race right now is for one of the candidates – and perhaps the party as a whole – to stop playing the game of “not losing.” They need to start volunteering their leadership on issues that are important to americans – all americans – and not just the financial elite and lobbies. Until they stop playing the game the way they’re playing, Obama has nothing to worry about.
Very pragmatic way of looking at the whole picture. I liked how you used coaching as an analogy. Plus, I gotta respect anyone who can slip Star Trek into their case 🙂
Gotta have the Star Trek references… 🙂