In the bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the late Stephen Covey writes that habit #2 is “Begin with the End in Mind.” You can read about all seven habits here, and about the eighth habit (yes, there was a sequel) here.
We began last time by talking about the two main political problems we face in America. Number one is the sad fact that too many conservatives think that they don’t have any responsibility when it comes to street level politics. That dirty work is for others. Many of them stay informed and vote — but that’s only part of their job as citizens. Here’s George Washington:
It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn.
Here’s Patrick Henry:
Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.
The second political problem is that too few Americans understand what exactly has to be done in the public policy arena to keep the country from coming apart at the seams. Thus, we need to solve problem number one and get millions more conservatives making Founding Fathers George and Patrick proud by doing their part to greatly lower the number of low information voters.
The list of ways to do so is almost endless, beginning with doing what you can to tactfully share your views with family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. If they’re offended, too bad. If the extreme left wing can evangelize everywhere from the grade schools to the TV dramas and comedies, then those finding offense need to get a grip.
Volunteering on political campaigns is, of course, an easy way to pitch in. Increasingly conservatives have formed local and regional groups that seek to rally people into action. There is no better example of that then the proliferation of Tea Party groups in all fifty states.
The “end,” however, is not just forming a group. Nor is creating a website or growing an email list. The purpose is not to have regular meetings of the faithful. The goal is supposed to be outreach to the uninformed and misinformed. Your neighbors. The people on your street and in your town.
It’s my contention that this is the biggest shortcoming of the Tea Party movement. Too many good people thought that they need only build it and those in the dark would magically become enlightened. You can hardly blame these good conservatives for this failure — they certainly didn’t have an example to follow within their local Republican Party organizations.
The GOP has failed in habit #2 along with all of Stephen Covey’s other suggested habits. Next time we’ll start looking at what the local chapters of the Republican Party can and should be doing — but most are not.