The term “loyal opposition” was born in the parliamentary government system, meaning that those out of power, while still having many disagreements with the party in power, were still loyal to their country and the need for the government to get things done for the citizens they–all sides–serve. In any governmental system, including ours here in the US, opposition, if it is loyal, can be a huge plus. If the opposition is disloyal, it can be an equally huge minus.
That’s the subject of today’s 10-minute podcast.
Both Republican President Lincoln and Democratic President Roosevelt were justifiably well known for using a “Team of Rivals” as their Cabinets and senior advisors. Churchill did the same when he became Britain’s Prime Minister in 1940. He appointed the most two senior members of the opposition Labour Party to his 5-man war ministry. One of the two was Neville Chamberlain, then Prime Minister when disgraced himself by capitulating to Hitler with his infamous, “We shall have peace in our time” claim after giving Czechoslovakia to ‘ol Adolph in exchange for a piece of paper promising peace. Hitler attacked, starting WWII a few months later. These American Presidents and the British Prime Minister knew they could rely on their opposition to be loyal to their countries and meet their countries’ needs–despite their political differences.
Lincoln, Roosevelt and Churchill chose the team of rivals approach because it best served their nations. It had to be much harder to have dissenting voices in their inner circles, but all ideas were heard–to everyone’s advantage. And the citizens in the countries had to be comforted by seeing that their leaders were working together for their benefit. As World War II approached, Democrat Roosevelt appointed new individuals to key positions. Frank Knox, the 1936 Republican vice presidential nominee, became Secretary of the Navy while former Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, another Republican, became Secretary of War–key positions, especially in wartime. Both men performed admirably under Roosevelt, and as part of a Democrat/Republican Team of Rivals.
President Lincoln’s cabinet included all of his major rivals for the Republican nomination for President in 1860—William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Simon Cameron and Edward Bates. Some of these men had been effectively promised positions as part of the negotiations that led to Mr. Lincoln’s nomination at the Republican national convention in May 1860. Many of them objected to the inclusion of each other in the cabinet. There were worries about both geographic distribution and balance between former members of the Whig and Democratic Parties. But it worked, and worked well.
Politicians today are too busy accusing each other, including competing members of their own party, of everything from being idiots to being traitors, that they are unable to take advantage of individual strengths, regardless of party, as part of successful teams that deliver for America. In the US, most politicians seem to have taken an oath to be the disloyal opposition. Quite the opposite of a team of rivals, the current approach is to make anyone who disagrees with them the enemy. The actual enemy. “Resist.” Either by openly resisting any and all action by the other party, or by supporting those who walk around openly and angrily resisting.
Politicians know the advantages of a team of rivals approach, but those advantages accrue mainly to the country and its citizens–not to them and their party. So that’s out. We voters are also guilty. We have allowed ourselves to be so deeply influenced by the us-vs-them approach to life in general and politics in particular, that we keep voting for “My team is the only team” politicians. On both sides. And the media actively support this dysfunctional way of doing business.
When we talk about teams of rivals, when we talk about mixing parties, mixing in different political views in order to achieve success, the word “compromise” comes to mind. Let’s talk about that for a moment. Compromise is often held up as the intelligent, emotionally stable way of reaching an agreement with another while preserving–or even enhancing–the relationship. In a heated disagreement about who washes dishes, we are often steered to something like, “Let’s be fair; you do them one week, and I’ll do them the next.” Or take a small business deal where you want to buy a successful enterprise from the retiring owner. Meeting people halfway through compromise assumes that halfway will always lead to a good solution. If you think that you are meeting someone halfway, I can guarantee you they feel that you are falling well short of that goal, while feeling they are doing far more than their half. From their perspective, your idea of half looks much smaller–perhaps just a token gesture. So, instead of 50/50, let’s try 75/75. Yes? Won’t my 75% look like at least 50% to the other person? Maybe, but let’s take it up another notch; take 100% responsibility for finding a solution. What? One hundred percent? Q. What is the other person’s responsibility if I’m doing 100%? A. They read this blog, and take 100% responsibility also.
Drop “split the difference” compromise (“An agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions, and both sides are likely unhappy.”)–both the word and the thought process–from your thinking. Replace it with creative solutions that enhance everyone. A win-win or no deal approach. This approach works. But nothing works until you do it. Try this and let me know.
Today’s Key Point: The Team of Rivals approach is the only method that both finds the best solutions and gives comfort and a feeling of security to those governed. Oh, and it works in business and our personal lives as well.
Segueing from the specifics of today’s topic to overall principles, the core, driving principles at Revolution 2.0, are:
And do it all in love; without love, these are empty gestures, destined to go nowhere and mean nothing.
If we apply those two core principles, personal responsibility and brother’s keepers, simultaneously, never only one or the other, we will always be on the right path. Depending upon what we face, one principle or the other may appropriately be given more emphasis, but they are always acted upon together.
The Founders, Revolution 1.0, were declared traitors by the British Crown, and their lives were forfeit if caught. We risk very little by stepping up and participating in Revolution 2.0™. In fact, we risk our futures if we don’t. I am inviting you, recruiting you, to join Revolution 2.0™ today. Join with me in using what we know how to do–what we know we must do–to everyone’s advantage. Let’s practice thinking well of others as we seek common goals, research the facts that apply to those goals, and use non agenda-based reasoning to achieve those goals together. Practice personal responsibility and be your brother’s keeper.
Let’s continue to build on the revolutionary vision that we inherited. Read the blog, listen to the podcast, subscribe, recruit, act. Here’s what I mean by “acting.”
Revolution 1.0 in 1776 was built by people talking to other people, agreeing and disagreeing, but always finding ways to stay united and go forward. Revolution 2.0 will be built the same way.
Join me. Join the others. Think about what we are talking about and share these thoughts and principles with others. Subscribe, encourage others to subscribe. Act. Let’s grow this together.
And visit the store. Fun stuff, including hats, mugs and t-shirts. Recommend other items that you’d like to see.
Links and References
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the blog with comments or questions about this podcast or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And you can subscribe to the podcast on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google, or Stitcher.
Now it is time for our usual parting thought. It is not enough to be informed. It is not enough to be a well informed voter. We need to act. And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.
Know your stuff, then act on it. Knowing your stuff without acting is empty; acting without knowing is dangerous.
Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.