Memo to GOP: More Unites Us Than Divides Us

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According the Associated Press, “The Republican Party seems as divided, angry as ever”. And I can’t say I disagree.

Elections losses tend to bring out the worst in political parties. Finger pointing and laying blame are a regular occurrence following defeats like the one Republicans were dealt in November. And as expected, Democrats and the mainstream media are taking particular pleasure in very visible meltdown that is currently taking place in the GOP.

The GOP’s internal struggles to figure out what it wants to be were painfully exposed after Mitt Romney’s loss to President Barack Obama on Nov. 6, but they have exploded in recent days. The fallout could extend well beyond the party’s ability to win policy battles on Capitol Hill. It could hamper Republicans as they examine how to regroup and attract new voters after a disheartening election season.

I’ve been a GOP activist for almost 20 years. I’ve seen this sort of infighting before.

Some claim the Party needs to change it’s values to win. Others say we need to double down on them and become even more committed them. There are those who say we need to reconnect with our base, while others point to a need for broader communication strategies that will expand our base. And as expected, they all have a plan.

In the end, they all have good points. But they also miss one very important point: More unites us than divides us.

I just celebrated 20 years of marital bliss. And one of the most important lessons I learned early on was that my wife loved me and was ON MY TEAM.

What a novel concept! The GOP is a team. And like any team, we are going to have disagreements. The important part is how we handle those disagreements and the ones with whom we disagree. If we treat them like they are the enemy, then the focus of the argument is to win. However, if we treat them like a member of OUR TEAM, then the focus is completely different; to solve the problem.

I sit on a school board in a very liberal part of Sacramento. Recently, I was elected to be Board President. This will be my third year serving in this capacity. A conservative friend of mine once ask me how I got along with the liberals of the board. I replied “Great!”. She was surprised at this answer, until I explained that most of the choices we make are not between right or left, but between right and wrong. Upon this, we as a board could agree.

Those who follow me in social media may find this hard to believe, but I don’t walk around wearing my Republicanism on my sleeve. Neither do I go around round looking for liberal dragons to slay. Instead, I live my values and let the chips fall where they may.

From time to time those with whom I work will disagree with me; and that disagreement will sometimes be based on my conservative values. In these cases, I enthusiastically advocate for my position, while at the same time trying to keep in mind that the person with whom I disagree is on my team. Whether in community work, on the school board or in our local GOP, we have come together to reach a common goal. They (or I, depending on your perspective) are simply “The Loyal Opposition”.

In politics, we have spent so much time attacking one another that we wind up talking at each other rather than to each other. A few years ago, I advised a fellow conservative blogger to take a look at how much time he spends attacking fellow Republicans. I explained that if he was spending more time attacking Conservatives than challenging liberals on their flawed policies, then maybe he needs to rethink his priorities.

I became a Republican because the values of the GOP were consistent with my own. I got active in the Party because I wanted to see those values exemplified in our elected leaders. My experience has been that most (not all) Republicans agree with me on most (not all) of those values. I recognize that 90%, 80%, heck even 60% agreement does not make them the enemy. They are still on my team and should be treated as such.

We should work together on those things that unite us. And feel free to work separately (and respectfully) on those things we disagree on. I believe in the end, we will find that there is more that unites us than divides us.