Couldn’t help but ponder the quote on a bumper sticker, stuck on the back of gray Prius.

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I was imagining the driver under the influence of a NPR news report, contemplating her sustainable garden, taking a sip from her fair-trade coffee and making a mental list of organic, veggie ingredients to pick up from the co-op market.

Before you can scream, “stereotype,” I could also envision the same bumper sticker affixed to the back of a truck with mud-flaps, gun racks with the driver listening to Rush Limbaugh and contemplating stopping off for barbecue beef brisket or chipotle pork ribs.

So what am I babbling about? My point is that many of us claim to celebrate diversity, but only as we narrowly define it. “Diversity” usually includes gender, ethnicity, creed and sexual orientation, but what it doesn’t include for way too many people in way too many instances is a contrary political point of view.

We may extol the virtues of a “marketplace of ideas,” but then we may choose to tune out commentary that does not agree with our own. Think of it this way, millions of dollars are being made by polemics (e.g. Limbaugh, Rachel Maddow, Glenn Beck, Bill Maher, Ann Coulter and until recently, Keith Olbermann), throwing raw red meat to the devoted by savagely pillaring the other point of view and resorting to name calling of the disciples that dare preach the alternative gospel.

This past week, we all know people who tuned in for Barack Obama’s State of the Union, and then switched channels when Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) delivered the official GOP and Tea Party responses respectively. And before that, the metaphorical shoe was on the other foot as Republicans tuned into George W.’s State of the Union, but tuned out the Democratic response. This all brings up some simple questions:

What are we afraid of?

Didn’t we learn in school that “sticks and stones may break my bones….?”

Many of us decry the loss of civility in our society, and yet we have our own responsibility for this state of affairs by refusing to even acknowledge that the other side has any merit whatsoever. In some cases, we adopt an elitist attitude resorting to calling people “dumb” and “stupid” if they don’t share our own particular wisdom…pass the sandbox shovel please.

One of the few things that I learned in public relations is to take the time to carefully study the messaging of the competition in a business setting or the other side of the aisle against a political backdrop. By appreciating the other point of view and where the other side is coming from philosophically, you can better anticipate their rhetorical thrusts and conversely conceive the best and most credible way to counter these arguments. You are just better at your own job. bubbatruck

Sacramento was a lonely place for a Republican constitutional office holder in the 1980s, in fact there was only one, my boss, Governor George Deukmejian. The Democrats held all the other constitutional offices (Lite Gov, Secy of State, Controller, Treasurer…) and to make things worse for us they held huge majorities in the State Senate and State Assembly, the latter run at the time by the all-powerful and incredibly articulate and skillful “Da Speaker” Willie Brown.

So how did we get anything done?

The answer is that our position was difficult, but not impossible. We had the bully pulpit of the governorship. We had GOP caucuses that were big enough to sustain gubernatorial vetoes, but we also had something else that was valuable…an understanding of how the other side thought and behaved. If we were to secure legislative passage for anything that we wanted, we had to convince Willie Brown and the Democrats on how they could declare victory. As the old saying goes in Sacramento: “When in doubt, declare victory.” We knew how we could declare victory, but how would the Democrats declare victory? And if both sides cannot credibly claim victory, then you have no deal on anything, on any given day.

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We literally sat around for hours into the night, debating among ourselves as Republicans how Willie, a Democrat, could declare unmitigated and unadulterated victory. Some of the suggestions that we batted around the room did not pass the giggle test. Ultimately we had to convince Willie, particularly with arguments he could use himself, because he in turn had to sell his caucus, a caucus that was philosophically predisposed against us.

In many cases we simply could not make the sale, but in others we succeeded when the majority of the votes were stacked up against us. I am not talking about compromising your principles, and we certainly did not retreat when it came to not raising taxes and insisting on a balanced budget with a $1 billion reserve for emergencies (almost sounds quaint in these days of record deficits, doesn’t it?). But we did go out of our way to understand Willie and his caucus and we were better off for doing so.

Almost DailyBrett note: The “Closed Mind” bumper sticker brings back memories of three of Dan Quayle’s most repeated quotes: “What a waste it is to lose one’s mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.” Almost tops, “The future will be better tomorrow” and of course, “If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure.”

http://paulryan.house.gov/

http://bachmann.house.gov/

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/ns/msnbc_tv-countdown_with_keith_olbermann/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Brown_(politician)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Deukmejian

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Quayle

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